Horny time

Photo: Harry Fellows

Robert Perlick-Molinari had no idea that a secondhand instrument would set his life on a new course.

“My oldest brother played French horn. He had an extra laying around the house,” he said. “I wanted to play a different instrument, but Mom was like, ‘Looks like you are learning the French horn.’ I’m happy that was the instrument of choice. It’s flexible.”

Whereas most classically trained musicians would take “flexible” as meaning the ability to play baroque or classical, Perlick-Molinari has found a way to make the brass instrument the centerpiece of the dance music he makes with his brother, David, as French Horn Rebellion.

But not until first flirting with a career as a professional orchestral musician. As a high school sophomore, young Robert was somewhat of a prodigy.

“I was the principal horn in the city of Milwaukee, meaning that I was the best, young French horn player in the whole metro area,” he said. “It was like, ‘Maybe I should start practicing?’” He did and was soon taken under the wing of the an acclaimed Milwaukee horn player who led him to Chicago.

“He was like, ‘You must become one with the French horn. You will be great.’ It was old-school apprenticeship stuff,” Perlick-Molinari said. “He taught at Northwestern, so I went to school there, and it was peachy at first.”

He became principal horn at the prestigious Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, but a heavy course load as a pre-med student, joining a fraternity and generally enjoying the independence of college life took a toll on the time needed to master an instrument.

Said Perlick-Molinari, “I was like, ‘Screw it. I’m going to make some dance music.’” French Horn Rebellion has been freeing for him, to say the least.

“It’s like band geeks gone wild. It’s band kids who don’t want the pressure of playing excerpts perfectly,” he said. “It’s much more interesting and fun to encourage people who play classical instruments to rebel against that sort of thing. It’s about having a good time, not this antiquated thing.”

A chance encounter with then-unknown MGMT — and a subsequent request to produce the indie-pop band’s debut EP, 2005’s Time to Pretend — rocketed the Rebellion to where it stands today.

“It was inspiring,” Perlick-Molinari said. “It opened up this world of electronic music that we’d never even considered.”

Heading into 2013 with a new musical identity, the brothers are pushing what they’ve dubbed “Next Jack Swing” across the dance floors with a series of singles released steadily through the year.

“We’re dance guys,” Perlick-Molinari said. “We want to release stuff that DJs can play.”

Joshua Boydston

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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