Five years ago, the twenty-seven-year-old brotherly duo of Evan and Jaron Lowenstein made a dirty habit out of visiting their local radio station in Atlanta to help a friend answer phones for the late-night request line. “Listeners would call up,” Jaron says in a fairly innocent she, “ask us to play some Green Day, and we’d be like, ‘Green Day? That’s really cool you just said that because Billie Joe from Green Day is right here in the station.’ Then Evan would go, ‘Hey, this is Billie Joe. I’m just hanging out with Evan and Jaron. Love their new record.’ ” Wiseasses? Shhh-yeah. Wiseasses with just enough chutzpah and promotional savvy to survive in today’s world of heavily choreographed and recycled boy bands. And enough talent to ride the MTV hit “Crazy for This Girl” to Number Four on the Billboard charts.
Evan didn’t get serious about music until the age of seventeen when a close friend saw an unused acoustic guitar sitting in the corner of his room. “My mom bought the guitar for my dad’s fortieth birthday,” Evan says, “so when my friend started looking at it and asked to have it, I figured I should keep it. He taught me how to play ‘Lola’ the same night, and that was it.” Jaron likewise started teaching himself to play shortly thereafter, and a brother act was born.
Despite the help they received from Jimmy Buffett in getting signed to their first major record label –– he spotted them at a Florida nightclub and recommended them to Island Records –– Evan and Jaron reserve the right to stamp themselves self-made. Between the two of them, Evan and Jaron became not only the talent but their manager, publicist and booking agent. “We would use Chevy Chase’s names from Fletch to book all of our gigs,” says Evan, “then tell people we had this awesome booking agent who could get us in anywhere.”
These days, however, their music does most of the talking. Often compared to the assembly-line boy bands crowding up the music scene, Evan and Jaron would rather be seen as singer-songwriters. “To be honest, the longer artists like Jaron and me are making our own music, the longer catalogs for stuff like Jackson Browne and James Taylor are going to sell,” Evan says. “People always ask us where we got our music from, and we’re like, ‘What do you mean? We had so many musical influences growing up! My parents had everything from Simon and Garfunkel to Elvis Presley, my brother was playing AC/DC and Ozzy, my sister had her Billy Joel and Elton John. So we kind of came off of all those different influences. I don’t think Britney Spears or ‘N Sync can even answer a question like that and explain where they got their music.”
Combining that musical breadth with business smarts has been, so far, an unbeatable combination. “It’s important to understand the music industry really well or you can get screwed,” says Evan. “The more you understand it, the more you can protect your art. Before you know it, other people are gonna start creating an image for you. And if my career gets messed up, I want to be the one to do it.” Amen, fellas.