Dan and Noah Rauchwerk are The Lords of Liechtenstein. They also brothers from New Jersey who just happen to play quirky, fun, and thought-provoking songs while entertaining their audiences with their brotherly squabbles and teasing. Don’t let the argyle sweater vests fool you, these two young men have something to say and sing about.
The Lords of Liechtenstein are one of 24 Emerging Artists chosen for this year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. The Emerging Artist showcase is always one of the highlights of the festival. The musicians are chosen by a three-member jury and are given the opportunity to perform two songs (not to exceed ten minutes). The audience votes for their favorites and three or four acts are asked to return to the main stage the following year.
You can find out more information about The Lord of Liechtenstein on their website.
Here’s a video of the Lords playing their song “Sundays.”
Okay, I’ve got to ask the inevitable question: Why did you name yourselves the Lords of Liechtenstein?
We heard that Liechtenstein was the only country that you can rent out for corporate functions. We were so impressed by this blatant expression of capitalism that we decided to proclaim ourselves its lords. Also most people don’t know anything about Liechtenstein, so we can just make up facts about it and get away with it!
Whose idea was it to make a fashion statement with your distinctive sweater vests? They are memorable, that’s for sure!
It was Noah’s. He is the kind of fashionable person who would wear argyle sweater vests without any hint of irony, and they were just in his closet.
How long have you been playing together as a duo?
We’re brothers, so we have been playing music together for our whole lives, but The Lords of Liechtenstein has only existed for about 7 years.
You both seem so natural on stage, does that come naturally or did you have to work on that aspect of your act?
It’s natural. That’s pretty much how we interact all the time. We’ve found that if we try to plan our jokes out in advance then they fall flat, so we just rely on our chemistry as brothers and wing it.
Now about your music–you have an interesting mix of quirky and comical songs and some serious songs as well. Do you like the element of surprise in your live shows so that your audience doesn’t really know what to expect next?
Yes, we do! We feel very strongly about making sure that the audience has fun at our shows, hence the silly songs, but we also believe in music as a force of social change, hence the serious material. The two balance each other out and keep the evening from getting too ridiculous or too morose.
Do you work on songs together or do you write independently of each other?
We tend to write independently. It allows us to express ourselves individually without stepping on each others’ toes in the writing process.
Who would you say are your biggest inspirations in terms of songwriting and also of performance?
Noah’s biggest songwriting influences are Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes) and John Prine. Dan’s are Taylor Goldsmith (of Dawes) and Kate Rusby. The Smothers Brothers have been the biggest influence on our performance style. Who doesn’t love a good show of brotherly animosity?
Dan, tell us about the CD project that you worked on as your senior project at Rutgers. It’s not often that you hear about a folk musician who majored in business with a minor in African studies and then went on to write songs that managed to merge both topics!
Our cousin Firew is from Ethiopia, so I have long been interested in African food issues. When the time came to work on my senior project, I wrote a thesis on the economic causes of post-colonial food crises in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. Dry enough for you? I thought so too, so I wrote and recorded an album of songs telling the stories of individuals involved in these crises. Each song was sung from the perspective of a different person. There’s one sung by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, one by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, one by a wealthy American donor, etc. Thanks to Noah for contributing some great percussion to the album!
I had the great opportunity to meet and hear these guys at the NERFA conference in 2013. Not only is it a pleasure to listen to their music, but these brothers are truly sincere individuals!