When she was a little girl, Lauren Brown, percussionist with Los Angeles duo Kolars, was about to go on stage for a dance recital, but her young dance partner, with whom she’d rehearsed the routine, panicked at the last minute and couldn’t go on.
“She started crying,” Brown remembers of the fateful performance. “I was thinking, at 8, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ I still had to go out there.”
Brown did the whole routine solo, learning one of the most fundamental rules of show business: The show must go on. It’s a principle she remembers as a professional musician to this day, whether performing for 10 people or a thousand, she says.
I’m talking on the phone with Brown and Rob Kolar, singer and guitarist in Kolars, from SXSW in Austin, where the musicians are set to perform.
On March 28, Kolars returns to Eugene in support of their 2017 self-titled release. Last year, the band shared a stage with Shakey Graves in a sold-out show at McDonald Theatre.
Kolar and Brown have been friends for a while, playing in a variety of music projects. They even dated briefly. Kolar remembers the minute he met Brown.
“Lauren rolled in in a leather jacket and started whipping everyone’s ass at pool,” Kolar says. “Who is this girl?” he thought. “That was the beginning of the friendship.”
The pair played together previously in the indie-folk band He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, and it was in this earlier project that Brown developed her unique “tap dancing” style of playing drums.
“The way Lauren plays drums lends itself to being a front person,” Kolar says, describing Brown’s approach to her instrument as a mix of Mo Tucker from the Velvet Underground and Fred Astaire.
As guitarist and singer, “it isn’t like I’m the front person” in the band, Kolar says. “We share that duty.”
While Brown got into music via dance, Kolar at a young age fell in love with the music of Bob Marley, Elvis, Eddie Cochran and punk. “I wanted to sing,” he says, “but didn’t have this pure singing voice. Punk gave me this ability to express myself.”
After a protracted break from performing, Brown and Kolar decided they wanted to get back at it, this time as a duo. “It was a little daunting at first,” Kolar says. “Only the two of us — will we be enough?”
“In other bands, we were looking to the past,” he says, and while Kolars does incorporate modern technology and production value in what they do, they also keep “that live rock ’n’ roll flare that we love,” he says — a kinetic, sometimes instrumental stew of swinging rockabilly, classic country, surf rock and ’60s kitsch. It’s an arithmetic that, a little like The Black Keys, manages to be both retro and thoroughly modern.
“Our goal was really to have fun,” Brown says. “Musically, we don’t want to be locked into any one genre. Let’s not put any kind of label on it — let’s combine everything we love about music. What can we do to create something new?”
with Alex Lilly
Thursday, March 28, 8pm
Wildcraft Cider Works
$10 advance, $12 door, 21-plus