Miley Cyrus' big sister just hugged me. That's the first thing I think when I meet Frank + Derol, the alt-pop band comprised of Codi Caraco and Brandi Cyrus. But then we start talking, and it quickly becomes clear that this isn't just a case of riding on the family coattails. The two met as touring musicians five years ago--yes, that was Brandi playing guitar behind her sister--and soon realized that their sonic sensibilities clicked. Now they've got a debut EP out (with a full-length album slated for 2013), which erases any notion that this is just some Disney-approved duo; instead, the tracks on Frank + Derol are in the Ellie Goulding vein of shimmery electro. "There is definitely a pop element that can fit into the mainstream world, [but] if you see our live shows people are like, 'You rock!'" explains Caraco. Before heading back to L.A. after finishing their first big tour, Frank + Derol stopped by the NYLON office to talk family names, finding inspiration in the recording studio, and running out of underwear.
What's the one thing people need to know about Frank + Derol?
Codi Caraco: We're musicians.
Brandi Cyrus: I think part of what's important to know ahead of time is that Cody and I have spent a year doing the record. We wrote all of it, we spent the time figuring out what we wanted the first impression of us to be, and what we want to sound like. Having people know how much of ourselves we put into it is really important.
There must be a story behind the name.
CC: It's nice for us because we didn't really want people to know we're just two girls, and she has a last name that people know….
BC: Brandi + Cody just is not as cool. But when we started out, it was just a fun thing; Cody and I were playing around L.A. and we just needed a name and Frank + Derol was an alias of sorts. We'd show up and people would kind of expect us to do country music or something.
Do you get reactions to the Cyrus name?
CC: It's not like we're trying to pretend that it's not there, because it is and I love her family and obviously she loves her family. [But] it doesn't affect our thinking.
BC: I just think it's so nice that naturally all my siblings and my father and I have our own taste in music. It's neat that my dad is a country artist and my sister is a pop artist and we have an alternative sound and we all support each other--so it's great but it's not like we were forced into it, at all.
CC: We're not trying to hide anything.
BC: I think I'm more trying to hide the preconceived notion of female musicians. "Oh its two girls, they don't play." With the name it's nice because people don't expect it and then we do play instruments and they're surprised. That's one of the main parts of the live show is being able to play instruments. Because of the name it helps you not have an assumption in the beginning--you don't have time to say we sucked!
Finding bandmates is kind of like dating; how'd you know it was a good fit?
CC: It was never really ever, "Let's go to the mall!" It was completely musical from the beginning. We are very different people [but] honestly it was when we were making this record that we were like, "Wow, we see eye to eye on this."
What were some of the things that inspired the album?
CC: We listened to the Gold Panda record every day. It's all instrumental but I love it; it was inspiring to me to drive next to the ocean and listen to that, and then go into the studio and be in a good mood to do it. BC: I would say sounds or background music; The xx and Metric, as far guitars, were inspiration even though our records sounds totally different. If you just listened for guitars you might notice it.
Having just finished your first major tour, did you develop a routine backstage?
CC: I always put on music and dance around for a while before a show.
BC: We don't really talk about what we're wearing but we have had times where we show up to the show and are like, "Are you kidding me? We're wearing the same thing." The one thing I do usually ask is what color jeans are you're wearing. Black jeans and boots are the band staple. And dirty clothes!
What did you learn during this tour?CC: I learned a lot from the bands that were opening for us. They put on a great show every night with full energy--I learned from them that no matter how many people are in the crowd, whether it's two people or 200, always have full energy because it makes you better and is always a good learning experience.
BC: Pack more jeans, because I ran out.
CC: I'm on my last pair of underwear
BC: Me too!
CC: The second day I dropped my toothbrush in the toilet.
BC: I lost my toothbrush literally yesterday, at the tail end of the tour!
Visit frankandderol.com for more info.