July 5, 2001
Crazy for These Guys
Evan and Jaron Lowenstein aren't your average rock stars. The identical-twin heartthrobs are Orthodox Jews whose contract includes a Sabbath clause. Their latest album, "Evan and Jaron" (Columbia, 2000), features the top-20 single "Crazy for This Girl" and the new release, "From My Head to My Heart." People Magazine included the duo on its 50 Most Beautiful People List in May. They have appeared on the "Today" show and in the magazines Rolling Stone, US Weekly, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Seventeen.
Originally from Atlanta, where they attended Yeshiva High School, the 27-year-olds settled in Los Angeles in 1999. Journal Singles columnist J.D. Smith caught up with Evan last week before the brothers' concert at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles.
Jewish Journal: It seems like you just arrived on the scene, but you've been doing this for nine years. What were your "40 years in the desert" like?
Evan Lowenstein: I don't know if it was as big a struggle for us as it was for the [Jews]. It's been a lot of fun. It's a lot of hard work. We really enjoy what we do. We get to share our creative side [making the album], and from then on we become salesmen, running around the country. This album came out last September, and we started setting it up last July. It seems like we just came out of the blue. Evan and Jaron, for most people, have been playing in a band for a year now and they came out with a song "Crazy for This Girl," and that's all they've done.
JJ: Does keeping the Sabbath affect your touring?
EL: Sure. It affects us in a positive way. The most unbelievable thing is to have a consistent day off, just on a physical level. We know there's no phones, I don't do interviews or radio, no shows. On a mental level, it's nice -- after answering questions about ourselves all week -- it's nice to step down, take the attention off us and focus somewhere else. It's very easing on the mind.
JJ: Do you try to get to services on Friday nights?
EL:: I try, but we're not always near [a temple] in some of the cities we've been in. The hotels have to be near the venue because when Shabbat's over on Saturday night we have to be onstage right away.
JJ: Can we expect some more bad rock star behavior?
EL: The industry paints pictures of people in broad strokes. There are definitely sides to us that the press has not picked up on, and when they do, they're going to say, "Oh, they've changed." The fact that we observe certain things in our religion does not mean we run around saying we're Orthodox. We've never run to the press and said we want to talk about Judaism, or come across saying we've got this wholesome image [because the industry press] want to bring it to a younger crowd. We're normal guys.
JJ: Did you ever think that you'd be poster boys for an entire religion?
EL: I thought that would happen a lot more than us being involved with the younger market. For six years we toured 21-and-over venues. Our crowds were always adults. We've been doing this for nine years. I think our music, the content, is much more mature than the pop acts. Up until a couple years ago nobody ever, ever asked me if we play our own instruments because the only way you could ever see us was in a live show. The music industry is feeding kids pure candy. You don't have to teach a kid to like candy.
JJ: How has religion influenced your songwriting and your music?
EL: Songs are an amazing feeling you let out. Our songs are influenced from things in our life so, sure, there's stuff in there from maybe more pure places and maybe less pure places. It reflects our lives, the lives of those around us. We're certainly not preachers. We have no interest in that. I grew up with a belief of, "Show me, don't tell me." We're not here to tell the Jewish youth what they need to do. Kids know what they need to do. We're not role models, we're artists. I like to jump out, I like to take chances. It's hard to take chances when you're a role model.
JJ: Does it blow your mind to appear on the same bill with musicians you admire?
EL: We did the Brian Wilson tribute show with Paul Simon and Elton John and Billy Joel and ... we're putting ourselves in that kind of environment. It's absolutely incredible. Elton John called us up to his room and says, "You must be so excited. It was a great show." It's really cool. It's nice to be appreciated by the artists we go gaga over.
JJ: What happens now?
EL: We're producing a track for a movie soundtrack tomorrow. Thursday night we take a red-eye to D.C. We have a show in D.C. Friday afternoon, and we do a bunch more radio shows, Sunday in Annapolis, then I have some time off in July. I'm dying to take a honeymoon with my wife [Evan got married in November, Jaron is single] and spend some time with her.
JJ: Are Jewish mothers offering their daughters to you guys?
EL: More Jewish grandmothers. Jaron recently got a letter, an e-mail, someone said: "I'm taking a chance -- here's my picture. Won't you write me back -- I think it might be beshert. So the picture didn't open up and he wrote back, "I think it was beshert."
JJ: Any chance we'll see you on the Chabad telethon?
EL: You know, I'm a little upset we haven't got that phone call yet.