“Carried your purse for you / And grabbed the coat you left at the front of the bar / I kept your head close to mine / You kissed my neck and gazed out the side of the car.” So begins Nat and Alex Wolff’s newest single, “Glue.” The brothers, who have been quarantined together in LA since March, co-wrote the lyrics about dealing with feeling insecure in a relationship.
While the duo is widely known for their early success on the musical-comedy film, The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie, which premiered in 2005 and later led to a TV series that spanned three seasons, they’ve since proven that they’re more than just child stars. Their first single within the band called “Crazy Car” reached #23 on the Top 200 Billboard Charts. In 2009, they branched off as a duo, and their first album was released in 2011 titled Black Sheep.
Along with singing, Nat and Alex have both starred in an array of films. Nat was seen in Stuck in Love, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, Palo Alto, and more, while Alex was seen in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Hereditary, and My Friend Dahmer amongst others. They both starred in Stella’s Last Weekend, directed by Polly Draper, their mom, for which they also wrote and performed songs.
In addition to the release of “Glue,” their first music release since 2019, Alex recently had his directorial debut for the drama film The Cat & The Moon, which he wrote and starred in as well. Nat, on the other hand, has recently starred in the crime-thriller show, Semper Fi, and the action film, The Kill Team. He is also starring in the film Body Cam alongside Mary J. Blige, in CBS’ adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, and Gia Coppola’s film, Mainstream.
We chatted with them about their new single “Glue,” their love for The Beatles, and how nostalgic we all are for The Naked Brothers Band.
How are you guys doing? Nat: We’re doing good. We just spent pretty much all night shooting our music video for this tune. My neck is so sore from jumping around and Alex was playing drums with balloons on the sticks. And because of quarantine, I was also lighting some of it, so I would light Alex’s face, and he would light my face with these neon lights. Alex: And Nat doesn’t know this, but while I was lighting him, he moved his head just at the right time and I almost smashed him in the head with a green light last night. Nat: I didn’t know that. Alex: It’s on camera that I almost hit you directly in the forehead and you just happen to jump back and do a crazy move. It would have been bad. Like, it was pretty, pretty scary.
Was it a pretty small set? Nat: It was directed by this guy Jack, who we became friends with. He does all these really amazing videos, but it was really just him and then two of his friends who he works with, and then the two of us. They were wearing masks and stuff and didn’t get too close, so it was really exciting. It was kind of like working with your friends.
Is it weird how certain processes in your work have changed due to COVID-19? Alex: I haven’t been on camera for so long, and just having a big camera…we shot a lot of it on film, 35mm and super 8. But I just kept thinking, wow, we’re actually doing it and it gave me, like, that buzz. I couldn’t believe it was really happening because it’s just been so long since we’ve been on a real set. Nat: So long since we’ve been anywhere. We’ve just been locked up in this house.
Are you guys in New York? Alex: LA. My plan was to be in New York, but then just got stuck out here, and I’m ready to get out of here.
Can you tell me a little more about “Glue” and what inspired it? Alex: I wrote this song about my ex-girlfriend named Drew Barrymore. Just kidding. But no, it’s about my ex-girlfriend and it was for a time when we were kind of going all around New York to all these different parties. It was like reverse quarantine. It was the most social I’ve ever been my whole life. She had a ton of friends and we were meeting all these people, and I was feeling kind of small and anxious, but super in love…and kind of… Nat: Alienated. Alex: Yeah, alienated. I mean it definitely has aggression and power almost like a power ballad of sorts, but it also has this energy of fun and then trying to kind of encapsulate the sadness. Nat: When we went to the studio we listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, a lot of The Replacements, The Nationals, and different bands who had songs that felt kind of like the spirit of the song. We didn’t really have a form for the song so we just started playing it live. And usually what we do is just get a guitar and piano, and you either go in one direction or the other. If it’s a softer song, then piano, if it’s a harder song, then guitar. And for us, it’s never intellectual with our music or with anything creative that we’re doing. Alex and I have been working together our whole lives and we don’t really talk about it much. We just kind of go for it, whether it’s the image in our heads or the sound in our heads.
It’s been a little over a year that you last released music together. Why this song and why now? Alex: I think this was just the one that was most ready and the one that felt like it needs to come out, you know. We played it at a couple of concerts and by the second or third concert, people were singing the lyrics so we kind of got the feeling that it sticks in people’s heads and it has good energy. I think in quarantine or in this time of feeling kind of trapped and isolated, this song is very open and has a lot of energy. I would like a song like this to come out, not a bummer. Nat: It’s one of those songs where you know you’re in quarantine, and you’re bored, and you’re off, and you know you’re dealing with the stresses of the current moment we’re having and then you hear this song that is sort of uplifting and exciting and takes your mind off things. Yet, the more you listen, the more you realize there’s a lot of anger.
When you two work on music together, what is your creative process like? Nat: A lot of times, you know, Alex and I will write a song separately and we always bring it to each other and fine-tune the other song. Alex has always added really great elements to every song I’ve brought to him. When we go into the studio, it’s a full 50/50 collaboration. And it’s funny because, you know, during quarantine, Alex and I will end up getting into blowout fights about the fact that he stole my sweater, or leaving the window open at night and letting the breeze through in the house. Alex: Okay, so we’re going there. Nat: But we never fight about music. Music is something that is like our secret language with each other.
You were both inspired to do music because of The Beatles. Who are your musical influences now? Alex: I want to say that The Beatles are still the musical inspiration that we rely on the most. We have a lot of influences, but making the video, making the song, The Beatles are all there. They’re an endless well to take from.
Over the years, how would you say your music has evolved? Alex: This is what happens with a lot of bands as they get older is they start utilizing the studio and how to work it. All our singles and folk songs that we kind of put out in a row, I like them and listen to them, but they’re kind of going with the bare minimum of what we know in the studio, which is guitar and piano and drums and kind of laying down the skeletons. Going off of Public Places and our singles, I think we have figured out the studio more and incorporating, you know, vocal loops and new machines. And also just honing in on what our style is so it doesn’t feel as much like we’re throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks in terms of genre or whatever. We kind of found our spirit and our sound. Nat: Yeah, it’s almost like we’ve found who we are as people and that’s been reflected in the music. The cool kids are much more psychedelic and more experimental, and this is more along the lines of The Strokes or something more rock-oriented, but there’s still vocal loops and fun new things. We’re able to go outside our comfort zone and still stay true to us rather than imitating something else or trying to be something else. We’re still finding it, and it’ll change as time goes on. Alex: Lyrically, it’s also about digging a little deeper, you know. Every time it feels like we’re just digging a little deeper. There’s no point, especially in the world we’re living in, to put out things that don’t come from the depths of who we are. We wanted to make sure that this song is a fun song to listen to but then also that we leave a little imprint of ourselves on it.
Would you guys ever consider going solo? Alex: You’re asking the hard-hitting questions, huh? Nat: Yeah. Actually, I hadn’t thought of it but now that you asked the question, I think I’m gonna solo this one out. I’m so glad you brought it up because I have to tell you, Alex, I have my album to give you. Alex: Oh, that’s cool, man. Leave it on my dresser next to your shirt that’s on the window and I’ll take a listen.
Between acting and music, which do you find most challenging, and which do you prefer the most? Nat: We grew up as super passionate people with a really passionate, artistic family. And I know that we’re constantly in a state of being creative and if we’re not, we get really depressed and kind of sad. So, I think that they all feel like outlets to express. And the thing about music that makes it so special is that I get to do it with my brother, you know, whereas a movie, hopefully, you find collaborators that you gel with, but music is really endless. We really do gel, not just because we’re brothers, but also because we have a lot of similar tastes. It’s just a really well-oiled machine, the two of us. Alex: Ethan Hawke does all this different stuff, like direct plays, act in movies, and all these different types of art. I also think someone in his family had been a painter or something, but he was asked how he divides his time, and he said it’s like different fingers on a fist. It’s like a creative fist and you’ve got all the different fingers, they’re all equal. They all form a creative person. We focus on each thing at a time. Nat: Music is our middle finger.
How do you feel when you look back at your time in The Naked Brothers Band? Nat: I feel nostalgic about it constantly. It’s this magical, amazing thing. Alex: There’s a lot of relief that we can kind of just make the music we want to make and it doesn’t matter. We don’t have any type of schedule that we’re on and we can just kind of make music whenever we feel it and make it however we want and say whatever we want, but at the same time, I do miss just doing it and having that thing that we can all work on. Nat: We did a live stream during…the hell is it called? The live stream? Alex: Zoom. Nat: Yeah, we did a Zoom call with the whole Naked Brothers Band cast during the beginning of quarantine. The reaction that it had from fans of the show who are now in their 20’s, 30’s, maybe teenagers…I feel it too with things that I was a really big fan of. It just hits differently than anything else. It’s just really magical and I feel so honored to have had that place in their childhoods.
What is next for you both? Nat: We have a bunch of new music coming out. There’s a song called “Blue” and then “Winter Baby.” Then we have an EP coming out and we have a big group of songs. It’s just a matter of trying to find the right way to roll them out.
What inspired this EP? Nat: Alex and I have done a lot of growing up, or we’re in the process of a lot of growing up, in the last couple of years and the songs are sort of reflecting growing pains.