Summer Twins

Limbo (Burger Records)

Contact Jacob Daneman about Summer Twins

Sisters Chelsea and Justine always knew they wanted to be in a band. For them, the vision came first; the songs came later.

 

They are the core members of Summer Twins, who weave together modern pop, ‘50’s sock hop melodies, and wild ‘60’s garage rock, topped with dreamy harmonies and a tinge of psychedelia. Chelsea plays guitar and Justine’s behind the drums, with Michael Rey on bass and Andy Moran on guitar and keyboards.

 

The Brown sisters were born and raised in Riverside, California, a cultural outpost halfway between LA and Palm Springs where the sun never stops shining. Growing up, The Kinks and The Beatles reigned supreme in their parents’ household, and formal piano and violin lessons were enforced in the early years. By the time they were teenagers, it was punk bands like The Ramones and The Donnas – and the kinship and attitude that oozed from these bands – that inspired them to ditch the lessons and create their own gang of musicians. Chelsea picked up her dad’s guitar and learned the chords to “Blitzkreig Bop.” Justine received a scrappy drum kit for her birthday. Mimicking the beats of their favorite Buzzcocks songs, the girls taught themselves to play punk rock in the family basement.

 

The two sisters, with Mia Anderson on bass, became The Scandells, and played shows at their high school and local coffee shops. They were the weirdos in their school and, in the rock ‘n roll tradition, the girls turned awkward experiences into song lyrics. Soon graduating to bars and clubs, they opened for established bands like The Thermals and Thee Makeout Party (Burger Records founders Sean and Lee’s now defunct pop group). In 2006, The Scandells recorded an album, of which only 100 copies were released, and they broke up soon after.

 

Now on the verge of adulthood, the sisters questioned whether the band was just a phase. Attending community college and working restaurant jobs, Chelsea continued to write and record demos on the side. In 2008, the sisters found themselves in Florence, Italy through their local college’s study abroad program. Listening to the demos over and over on train rides through Europe, a spark was lit – a yearning to make the new songs come to life. Returning to the states, they enlisted friends to play guitar and bass and Summer Twins were born.

 

The band recorded their first EP in 2010 in a friend’s bedroom, with Danny Delgado on bass and Ivan Aguirre on guitar. The six-song collection, “The Good Things,” was burned onto CD’s one at a time. Like an awkward crush that’s new and exciting, the EP marks the search for a new sound, exploring personal themes of heartbreak and innocence lost.

 

Inspired by the emergence of Fullerton-based DIY label, Burger Records, and a handful of Orange County garage bands that were making things happen for themselves, Chelsea and Justine handed out demos, wrote to promoters, made their own music videos, and played any show they could get. They invited the Burger boys to hear their band gave them a copy of “The Good Things.” Sean and Lee liked what they heard and agreed to release 250 cassettes. As their band gained recognition, Justine and Chelsea continued to commute from Riverside to gigs in LA and Orange County.

 

In 2011, armed with a batch of Chelsea’s new songs, they joined engineer John Dust and producer Don Bolles (legendary drummer for the Germs and 45 Grave) in their new analog studio in LA’s industrial district. With Danny Delgado and Marcio Rivera contributing, they assembled the long player entitled simply “Summer Twins.” The eclectic album of 12 songs referenced power pop, ‘50’s R&B and Spector’s wall of sound, with touches of Polynesian, psychedelic and even old world waltz music. The emotional tone was equally sprawling, contrasting melancholic moods with themes of ecstatic love and bold self-reliance. The 2012 release on Burger Records was followed by tours across the U.S. opening for rock ‘n roll veterans, Peter Case and Paul Collins (The Nerves, Beat, Plimsouls), and Matthew Sweet. An additional overseas release on IRMA Records led to a dream-come-true tour of Japan.

 

In 2013 Summer Twins released a third collection of songs, the self produced “Forget Me” EP, accompanied by bassist Michael Rey. Four striking Chelsea Brown originals are followed by an Everly Brothers cover. (All I Have To Do Is Dream).

 

With their meticulous DIY ethic, the sisters continue to dream up music videos and crafty photo sets, inviting fans to escape to a carefree world in which worries seem to melt away. Still, now in their mid 20’s, life isn’t all roller skating and balloons. The reality of adulthood, and the struggle to balance art with making a living are themes that appear in their latest songs. For ten rainy days in the winter of 2014, Chelsea, Justine, and producer Chris Woodhouse (Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees) holed up in an isolated Sacramento studio and created “Limbo”. (Burger Records, October 2015) The seclusion and the intensity of the sessions are revealed through the album — this is Summer Twins music with a new bite to it. Also new is the greater role played by Justine as she shares the bass duties with Michael Rey, and makes her songwriting debut on two new songs (singing and playing all the instruments on both “Florence” and “Helpless”).

 

Justine and Chelsea now live in Los Angeles and continue to push the band forward, while working retail jobs on the side. With over 11 years of playing together, the sisters’ enthusiasm has not diminished; on the contrary, they maintain an effortless optimism that is rare and inspiring. They are more excited than ever to share their dreamy vision and sweep the world up with it.

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