Best buds Nick and Jesse from Sydney know a thing or two about musical duos, being the sole two legends behind killer punk rock outfit Us The Band. Ahead of their debut EP ‘But Where Do They Go’ coming out February 19, we caught up with the guys to find out who they reckon the best musical duos of all time are, and boy, are there some doozies.
Probably the first time I realised a straight up two piece band could exist. The De Stijl-White Blood Cells-Elephant album run was crash hot. I bought a pair of red jeans that I blame entirely on those albums and how cool they were. I remember my teenaged mind thinking Hello Operator was the most brutal a guitar could sound.
They made me realise my old definition of brutal was just plain wrong. Assassins is an onslaught. I thought playing on the floor was a straight up gimmick, but it isn’t. It’s only like 20% gimmick. Having some sweaty dude constantly bump into hi-hat really makes the songs pop live. Makes you feel your lung could also burst while watching Brian Chippendale drum. You’re part of the band. I sweat after listening to one and a half of their songs. Nick originally showed me them and said he could drum like that…
When I first heard these guys I thought they were the band version of how I used to set up my pedals – just put another distortion at the end of the chain. That’s heavy. But that’d be a simplistic reduction of just how good and complex their songs are (except Sweet Love For Planet Earth, that song really does just add distortion onto distortion, and then onto more distortion). That Surf Solar song was basically a club anthem. I didn’t hear it any clubs, but I haven’t been to all of them, so it’s possible, probable, I missed it.
Hall and Oates
Rich Girl. What a song. What an instant mood improver. It’ll make you forget all the tension you had built up from all those Lightning Bolt and Fuck Button songs. Start thinking about issues affecting the real world. Not just how aggressively you can clip a sound wave. 2nd highest selling duo of all time. They’re doing something right.
Sonny and Cher
Super massive crush on Cher, didn’t particularly care for Sonny though. The image of I Got You Babe is seared into my mind. At the time I reckoned she had alien height, and so much eye shadow I assumed they were just empty recesses, it really worked for her. Sonny’s pushing normcore into uglycore territory. They had that weird variety hour TV show too. Multi-talented duo. I’ve been told if/when I dress up in drag I would definitely be a Cher.
Lee Hazelwood & Nancy Sinatra
So you’ve probably realised this list is now starting to name duos that aren’t proper bands, duos that probably rely on a full backing band to even exist. But you watch the clip for Jackson and tell me there’s anything else important happening besides their hot chemistry. Some Velvet Morning has those weird rhythm shifts between sections, Nancy and Lee are basically math rock. Go watch “Movin’ with Nancy”, there’s some groundbreaking make out sessions in there.
A duo who revelled in their hiring of session musicians. They insisted on staying as a duo despite writing songs that needed like 50 different tracks. They stopped touring cause they hated bringing up other people on stage (I’m assuming). They were committed to the cause. They had been called “the Manson and Starkweather of rock ‘n’ roll”. That’d be referring to Charles Manson and spree killer Charles Starkweather. That’s a sensational comparison. I don’t even fully know what it means. But by all accounts it sounds like they were insane. Reelin in the Years was one of the most played songs during my early childhood.
Prototype might be the hottest song of all time. Sexual without being sleazy. What an achievement. And the tail end of that song has him just talking to the producer, asking if they’re recording his nonsense, which they are, and they keep in. Never figured out if that was faked or not. They’ve other good songs too. Weird dynamic between the two. They contrast nicely with the Steely Dan, these guys seemed to like session musicians more than each other towards the end.
I tried to learn the guitar solo to Digital Love in high school. Couldn’t do it. I don’t even think those guys can play guitar. Hacks.
Check out one of OUR favourite two-handers, Us The Band themselves, in their explosive track And I Will, below.