- - Sunday, July 10, 2016

No one could sing like The Everly Brothers, those purveyor of the angelic two-part harmony that influenced everyone from The Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel. So it comes as no surprise that I was more than a bit skeptical when I was pitched an interview with The Bird Dogs, an L.A.-based duo composed of singing brothers Dylan and Zachary Zmed (sons of “T.J. Hooker” star Adrian Zmed,) who pay tribute to the famous brothers — especially since the younger band’s members weren’t even alive in the Everlys’ heyday.

Then I heard the music, as the pair lovingly recreates the genius of Phil and Don without using gimmicks. The end result is somewhat magical. Ahead of The Bird Dogs’ appearance at The Bichmere in Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday, the brothers discussed the brilliance of the Everly Brothers and what is was like to grow up Zmed.

Question: Why The Everly Brothers?

Zachary Zmed: I think that both of us feel — at least I do — that they are kind of overlooked by our generation in terms of their contribution to music.

Dylan Zmed: There are many different facets in which we could answer the question, From historical to personal.

ZZ: Plus the genetic part for us, and the fact that their music has brought us closer as brothers. So much of their songs, especially the ballads, You can’t sing like that and not be connected.

Q: How did you discover their music?

DZ: We got the bug of that era traveling with our dad when he was doing “Grease.” At a young age we were hearing ‘50S music playing before and after the show. We used to sit in the pit with the band and watch them play. All the “Grease” songs and other songs from that era with other lyrics.

Q: When did you two start making music?

ZZ: I was doing music for a while. We didn’t really start playing music together until he graduated from college five years ago. It wasn’t until two years ago that we started singing in two-part harmony.

DZ: We were thinking what songs could we sing that would really help us work on our two-part harmonies.

ZZ: Graham Nash and David Crosby stuff. Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel.

DZ: In all that research we found that Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles were all standing on the shoulders of their heroes, The Everly Brothers.

ZZ: So we started doing their songs at these long bar gigs, and people responded to us doing songs like “Let It Be Me.” They came up and said, “I love that song! Who is that?”

Q: How did you decide to do an Everly Brothers tribute show ?

ZZ: We’ve got a bunch of friends that are in Beatles tribute acts. So we were aware of that world a little bit. We wondered if anyone was doing an Everly Brothers thing out there. It just seemed like there was a void in the States. No one is doing it.

Q: It’s a tribute show, but you’re not pretending to be Phil and Don Everly?

DZ: No. Not at all.

ZZ: To me, that would actually cheapen what they were. They were so classythat to impersonate them would be a disservice.

DZ: What we’re doing is bringing as much of a genuine aesthetic of what they were: two brothers being brothers and singing as best as they could together. We try to take what they did and pay homage.

Q: Because you are brothers, is it easier?

DZ: Absolutely. Both the poisonous and the celebratory aspect of being brothers. It’s all part of it.

Q: How do you decide who sings what parts?

ZZ: I’m doing all Don’s parts.

DZ: I do Phil’s. I’m the younger brother; Phil was the younger brother. The timbre of my voice is naturally in a higher register than Zach’s. It all kind of just works.

ZZ: Don took all the leads. We’re just completely modeling it after what they did, and it makes things really simple.

Q: Do you each have a favorite song to perform?

DZ: “Let It Be Me.” There is just something to the lyrics and the actual swing of how you sing the vocals together.

ZZ: I love that song. I love doing all of them.

DZ: They knew how to pick em. Every song that they did, even the deep cuts, were amazing.

Q: When you were growing up, did you realize your dad was the famous actor?

ZZ: By the time we were really old enough to be socially aware of what was going on in regards to his fame, “T.J. Hooker” and the films ….

DZ: “Grease 2.” “Bachelor Party.”

ZZ: “Dance Fever” and all that stuff were kinda done. He had gone back to Broadway theater.

We were in New York with him, and it was pretty constant — him getting stopped and asked to sign autographs and pose for pictures. We knew that something was up. But back in L.A. it was a little more peripheral. There are niches. Some people find out who our dad is and go, “I was in love with your dad!”

Q: Was it cool to be around showbiz at that young age?

DZ: We didn’t realize it, but being around him, we were learning how to sing. Before he would go on, he would be doing vocal warmups, and we would be making fun of him. “Ma Ma ma me me me!”

ZZ: We were doing vocal warmups with him not knowing that.

DZ: We were trying to match the timbre and the tone. That’s the standard that was kind of set for us.

Q: Did he give you any advice?

ZZ: He will always talk about preparation. Vocal warmups.

DZ: He is always there for us as a counsel. If we have vocal problems, we can call him.

ZZ: I’ll says, “Dad, I think I have a node.” He’ll say, “You don’t have a node!”

DZ: “Drink Pineapple juice! You’ll be fine!”

“The Bird Dogs Present The Everly Brothers” will be at The Birchmere Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 by going to Ticketmaster.com


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