Brothers Lazaroff meld St. Louis sound, Austin influences on latest CD

The Brothers Lazaroff

By Dan Durchholz, Special to the Light

For their latest album, “Give ‘Em What They Need,” the Brothers Lazaroff have brought it all back home.

In part, that’s meant literally. Not long ago, David Lazaroff moved back to St. Louis from Austin, Texas, his home for the last 13 years, to join his older brother Jeff and end the band’s peripatetic existence.

But it’s true figuratively as well. The album reflects influences and attitudes the Brothers gleaned from the St. Louis music scene, which is in some ways more expansive than Austin’s emphasis on roots-music styles.

“There’s a little bit more diversity of music here, ” David says. “There’s an openness.”

“The guys we play with here, they have their backgrounds in house music, acid jazz, neo-soul and funk,” Jeff says. “It’s a cool combination.”

Indeed, the guys Jeff refers to represent a new beginning for the band as well. “Give ‘Em What They Need” represents the first time the Brothers Lazaroff have recorded exclusively with St. Louis musicians – drummer Grover Stewart, bassist Teddy Brookins, and keyboardist Mo Egeston. The Brothers’ previous efforts – 2006’s “Pure Delight” and 2009’s “American Artifact” – were made with sidemen from Austin and Chicago.

The band recorded the new album in St. Louis, using a somewhat unusual method that the Lazaroffs insist keeps the music fresh and fun to play.

“David and I write together and we like to not over-rehearse it or even show it to the band until we get into the studio,” Jeff says. “We feel that gives the songs a first-thought-best-thought approach.”

“It feels like you’re getting the birth of the song,” David adds, noting that the band is usually able to nail the performance on the first or second take. “We have a lot of trust in our guys.”

The brothers grew up in an unincorporated area between Chesterfield and Creve Coeur and started playing together when David was in high school and Jeff (five years his elder) was in college.

“We would hang out and play old rock songs and old roots music songs, country and bluegrass and stuff like that,” David says.

Eventually, they began writing their own tunes, sharing in the work.

“We share everything,” Jeff says. “One of us might come up with a song title and say, ‘Hey, this would be a good song,’ and we’ll flesh out the lyrics from there, or maybe one of us will come up with a riff or a chord progression.”

Their partnership continued even after David moved to Austin. They’d write songs by phone and over the Internet, and Jeff would travel to Austin for performances. Eventually, they decided to work out of St. Louis permanently and set about putting their current band together.

The Brothers’ roots influence remains strong on “Give ‘Em What They Need,” but it’s accented with electronica, drum ‘n’ bass, and other, more experimental sounds.

“We feel like everything is connected,” David says. “We like the roots music and we like experimental and we love noise music.” And in terms of the musical styles the band members might contribute to the mix, he says, “We’re not into micromanaging people.”

Nor are they into controlling one another. Unlike other rock and roll siblings, the Brothers Lazaroff emphasize playing off of each other’s strengths, not exploiting their weaknesses.

“We’re really open to each other in the creative process,” Jeff says. “If you look back at the Kinks or the Louvin Brothers or almost any other brother band, they almost all hate each other. We said to each other a long time ago, we’re not going to be the Everly Brothers. We’re going to remember what’s important. And being brothers is more important than being musicians. We keep our ego in check and put family where it belongs on the priority list.”

“Give ‘Em What They Need” is available at St. Louis music stores and will soon be available for digital download on iTunes.

Storytelling/family music event coming up

A storytelling and family music event featuring Randy Kaplan and Laurel Snyder will be presented at Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue, starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5

Kaplan is a roots, country and blues artist and comedic storyteller whose recent children’s CD is “The Kids Are All Id.”

Snyder is children’s book author, poet, a writer of nonfiction and contributor to NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

A post-concert chat about December dilemmas for adult will conclude the event. Tickets are $5 per individual or $10 per family and can be purchased at the door.