Evan and Jaron
by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2003-09-23
Evan and Jaron
There arent many pop stars in the world who keep kosher on tour, go to shul on Shabbat, and refuse to play shows on Yom Kippur. There are even fewer who would turn down the chance to support Oasis because it coincided with Rosh Hashanah.
Evan and Jaron Lowenstein, on the other hand, can happily admit to having done all of those things for while the twin brothers from Atlanta, Georgia, may be one of the hottest new acts around, they refuse to let a little thing like their music career stand in the way of their reputation as nice Jewish boys.
The sexy 27-year-old identical twins werent always destined to go into music though. They began their career as semi-professional baseball players until Evan discovered his passion for music and Jaron followed. They played their first gig in an Atlanta club in 1993 but it was only when their self-titled album was released in 2001 that their career really began to take off.
The albums first single, Crazy For This Girl, became a huge hit in the American charts and was heavily featured on the soundtrack to the TV show Dawsons Creek. The pairs identical good looks and catchy harmonies have assured them a huge female following overseas although theyre keen to shake off the boy band tag which they seem to have been given.
"Don't get me wrong - we appreciate the exposure - but we are not a boy band, Jaron is quick to point out. We play our own instruments. We write our own songs.
In 1994 Evan and Jaron started A Major Label Records (inspired by the fact that radio stations had told them they wouldn't play anything that wasn't on "a major label") and released two albums over the next four years. Shortly afterwards, Evan and Jaron were signed to Island Records who released another album We've Never Heard of You Either in 1998.
Buoyed on by the success of Crazy For This Girl, their latest album has been well received, with their musical diversity demonstrated by such tracks as the poppy Outerspace, the folk-inspired On The Bus, and the haunting I Could Fall, described by Evan as a very personal song about trust.
For all their success, however, they admit that their insistence on sticking to an observant Jewish lifestyle can have a negative effect on their careers.
"It definitely hurts us," admits Jaron. "We had to turn down a tour with Stevie Nicks this summer because we couldn't play Friday nights."
And not only do the two refuse to play shows on Shabbat, but interviews and meetings are also a no-no. They also turned down the chance to support Oasis in 1996 because the tour kicked off on Rosh Hashanah.
"Automatically we said we can't do it," says Evan. "And the day before the show, they cancelled. Can you imagine if we had given up everything we believed for that one show? How stupid we would have looked?"
Their observance, and their insistence on having a Shabbat clause written into any record contracts didnt stand in the way of them securing their first major deal with Island Records (they signed to Columbia last year) helped by the fact that the companys founder, Chris Blackwell, is also from a Jewish background.
The first time we met with Chris Blackwell, Jaron recalls, our manager called him and said, 'Listen, the guys would love to meet with you, but they have dietary laws," 'They eat kosher only.' Chris said 'Absolutely' and sat down and told us about how he grew up Jewish and his family founded the first synagogue in Jamaica." Blackwell told the pair if they were as committed to their music as they were to their faith, the label would be happy to have them on board.
Despite all this though, theyre keen to be seen as musicians who happen to be Jewish, rather than Jewish musicians, and steered clear of doing Jewish press initially to avoid being pigeonholed. "We didn't want everything to be focused on that part of our lives, " Evan explains.
"It's like Seinfeld," says Jaron. "He's Jewish, but it's not a Jewish show. It's the same thing with Evan and Jaron. We don't make any statements. Were just two Jewish guys who happen to take it to the next level."
That said, the pair dont deny the influence Jewish music has had on their lives they grew up listening to everything from Jimi Hendrix to traditional Hebrew songs and the Jewish influence in their work is evident from the name of their publishing company, Tzitsis What We Do (taken from a friends misunderstanding of Hebrew) to such songs as From My Head To My Heart, which subtly questions religion and identity.
"It serves as a great blueprint for my life and I have found success in it," Evan admits, "but I do not find religion handcuffing. I don't wear my religion on my sleeve, but I do wear it in my heart.