If He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister (HMBSMS) members Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown started a utopia, it would be lively and colorful, with a communal and Bohemian spirit. “It would be really nice to incorporate various shapes and colors — a festive and fun-looking place,” said Kolar of the hypothetical paradise, which would have its own debt-free exchange system of commerce and an animal sanctuary.
“I love a cute goat,” Brown said of what the Edenic animal enclosure may contain. “When you think about the climbing that goats do, one foot in front of the other, that’s some good symbolism.”
Though a few members short of a full-on society, He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister creates something akin to that utopian spirit onstage. Each show is a festive, fun-feeling circus, with heartfelt harmonies belted and brayed skyward, drums played wildly and freely with each and every limb, and a top hat or two. Case in point: Among their very first shows was one performed to a vagabond hitchhiking encampment.
There’s a reason the L.A.-based, gypsy-folk-rock-punk-pop band, with its freewheeling, adventurous, and party-starting spirit, is such a Santa Barbara favorite. With one member, Kolar’s sister Rachel, hailing from Ojai, there’s more than just a sonic kinship to the sun-stoked folk feel of our coastal region.
Fortunately, the fond feelings are mutual. Kolar and Brown married at Zaca Lake, and Santa Barbara holds a special place in the band members’ hearts as a fortuitous locale. Their SOhO performance in 2012 was their first-ever sold-out show, and it precipitated the start of a flood of praise and attention for the band. “Santa Barbara is one of our all-time places to play,” Brown said, calling that show a “good luck charm.” “The beginning of the band started with that show,” Kolar said.
After a packed pair of years spent mostly touring on the road, the band has scaled back the scope of its stage time and retreated to the studio. Kolar said the new material is a little less retro ― “a little more contemporary” ― with a recording style that is “a little more live and loose.” In accordance with the band’s declared abandonment of strict labels, he resisted imposing a genre to the new works. They are willing to reveal, however, a new song, “Live In a Dream,” posted here. Listeners can purchase the song from Bandcamp to benefit EARTHWORKS, a charity protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of energy development.
With a lighter touring load, the band’s newfound downtime has granted the members opportunities to explore their other creative passions. Brown just directed a one-woman show with friend Tamara Yajia called Cumming of Age. The play was a proud step for the NYU theater major, who feels L.A. has a relatively lacking and uninspired theater scene. Kolar, meanwhile, just put the finishing touches on the music for a PBS series created by Jason Jones and Samantha Bee, which will feature music by HMBSMS.
The band will keep things live and loose when they come to SOhO on Friday, and who knows? There may be goats.
He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister plays with Kera & The Lesbians and Danny Boy Wright at SOhO on Friday, September 18, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for more information.