Glam-rock duo with Bennington ties seeking big break
BENNINGTON — Brendan Eprile and Greg Driscoll, the founding members of the glam-rock group Fab the Duo, met in 2017 through the mobile dating program Tinder.
"At the time, I had this idea to start a queer boy band," Eprile said last month, back in his hometown to perform a show at the Tap House at Catamount Glass. "In my profile, I said, 'Musician looking for a queer boy band.'" He uploaded a photograph that showed him posing with a guitar.
"I'm a sucker for a guy with a guitar," Driscoll said.
The two began a relationship, fell in love, and started planning for the time when they would play music in public. Early last year, they performed at some cabaret shows in New York City, where they live, and in Austin, Texas, Driscoll's hometown.
The performances were well received, Eprile and Driscoll recalled, but they decided the act needed to be more than two people standing behind microphones. They wanted to give spectators a type of entertainment that was an experience.
They played their first show as Fab the Duo in July 2018.
"The best way I can describe it is that there's Greg, and there's Brendan and then there's Fab," Eprile said. "It's like three different people."
"We're a gay duo," Driscoll said. "Everything we do is a statement and a political act. Politics is very much a part of us, but I think the main thing about us is love."
Eprile got his start in music in Bennington, and was active in the theater program at Mount Anthony Union High School.
Eprile's mother, Judy Schwartz, said her son showed an aptitude for music very early.
"When he was a small child, people used to stop to listen to him drumming," she said. "For his second birthday, two families gave him plastic guitars. Around age 3 he stopped his pitch-imperfect dad from singing to him.
"At MAU, he always sang in the various choruses and other events, including British Invasion and the Pops Concert. He was always in the musicals, and played the Prince in Cinderella and the lead in Pippin."
Fab the Duo has released two singles: "American Icon," and "I Want a Man." (Both are available on fabtheduo.com.) They are working on an EP for Sonic Projects, a label run by their Grammy-winning producer, J.C. Losada, known as "Mr. Sonic."
Eprie and Driscoll credit Losada with making their sound more rock and less pop.
"He created this big sound that I feel like just really fits us," Eprile said.
The members of Fab the Duo reside in Brooklyn and have day jobs in Manhattan. Eprile is a preschool music teacher on the Upper East Side, and Driscoll is a server in an empanada bar in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.
They hope to make music their full-time careers within a year.
"The goal is to let this be our job, and travel and tour and collaborate with other artists," Driscoll added.
To broaden their exposure, Driscoll and Eprile have increased the number of tour dates and heightened their presence on social media. Their Bennington show featured a dozen songs — eight were original compositions and four were covers.
"It felt quite natural to have them here," Schwartz said of the group's local appearance, "and wonderful to see the hometown audience responding to them so enthusiastically."
'Nothing else like us'
Driscoll and Eprile said they enjoyed working in the studio with their producer, Losada, and they had fun making music videos, but what they loved most was giving live performances because these afford spontaneous interactions with an audience.
"You will never, ever go to a show like ours," Driscoll said, "because there's nothing else like us."
"We're trying to keep on amping up our fashion and our style," Eprile said.
In New York City, Fab the Duo concerts often feature a nine-piece band and backup singers. In these shows, the pair's glam-rock sound is front and center. For the Bennington concert and other shows on the road, Eprile plays the guitar and both men sing.
"He's a baritone and I'm a tenor," Eprile said. "He has a much lower tone and I have a much higher tone. Our voices are completely different, but somehow it fits together."
Whether backed by other musicians or performing acoustically, Fab the Duo's two leads view the songs as only a part of the show. There are costume changes, bantering and bickering on stage, audience participation via Instagram polls and even a Fab-themed adult beverage being served at the bar.
"It's usually a fruity, pink tequila or vodka kind of thing," Eprile said.
Ahead of their Bennington concert, Eprile and Driscoll wore heels and brightly colored suit jackets but were quiet and reserved in conversation. Sitting in the back room of the Loose Cannon Cafe, the men smiled and were pleasant when people recognized hometown son Eprile. Some approached and said they were following Fab the Duo on Instagram.
Eprile and Driscoll later remarked how their friends have told them they are astonished by the metamorphoses of their personalities whenever the two are putting on a show.
"It makes no sense," Driscoll said. "I'm terrified in a room with four people, but as soon as I'm in a room with more than that and they're looking at me, listening, I literally have no fears. Stage is where I feel the most comfortable."
"A lot of people who meet me and then see me perform are always shocked," Eprile said. "I have a calm personality, and then on stage — I just let it all out."
Eprile, 24, and Driscoll, 23, grew up with social media. They embrace the technology as a way of marketing Fab the Duo, networking with fans and attracting new customers. They have found that sending a personalized voice message to an Instagram follower is a small gesture that always delivers a large impact.
"I think what people crave is connection," Driscoll said. "If you find a new way to make a connection, people love it."
Fab the Duo is a self-managed act. Eprile and Driscoll handle their own bookings and appearances, and post all the updates to their social media outlets. This requires many hours of time every week, and detracts from the pair's ability to work on new songs. Taking on help with management and social media would allow for more time with their music, and would likely result in invitations to other performance venues.
"To get into a lot of places," Eprile said, "they ask how many followers you have and how many listens you've had."
Fab the Duo plays an average of two live shows a month. They want to tour more, and hope to have their EP finished for release by May 2020. There is some urgency with the recording project, but they also want only their best material to be included on the release.
"Since we're new artists, we're experimenting with our sound," Driscoll said. "We're experimenting with where we want to go, and what we want to say."
Charles Erickson contributes to Southern Vermont Landscapes from Rensselaer County, N.Y.
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