Though FinleyKnight only recently released its self-titled debut, the principle musicians in the band already have been making music together in some form or another for more than two decades.
It helps, of course, that brothers John (28) and Connor (26) Detjen formed their first band when Connor was just 6 years old, performing a one-off, one-song concert to mark their aunt's 30th birthday.
These days, the stakes are decidedly higher for the Logan Square-based duo, who spent nearly two years working on its debut before heading to a studio in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood with musician Joey Waronker, who has produced albums for artists like The Eels and Other Lives, and plays alongside Radiohead's Thom Yorke in Atoms for Peace — a band that serves as a spiritual big brother of sorts, considering FinleyKnight's similarly twitchy, rhythm-heavy stylings.
With sons named John and Connor, are your parents are huge “Terminator” fans?
Connor: [Laughs] It's funny, we've actually slowly realized we should have named the band John Connor. We chose our middle names for the band. John's middle name is Finley, and my middle name is Knight. But almost every time we introduce ourselves ... the “Terminator” reference comes up.
Which one of you is the evil brother? Or is that only true of twins?
John: [Laughs] I think that might be a twin thing. As a brother duo, we've realized not always seeing eye to eye is a big part of the creative process. When we both have strong opinions and even opposite opinions, we're showing each other new ideas, and we're finding that's what the music comes from in lots of different ways.
Is there any sibling rivalry between you?
Connor: Definitely not.
You have a song called “I'm Driving Cars.” Between the two of you, who's the better driver?
Connor: [Laughs] John's the driver on that song, so I'll let him answer that.
John: I sold my car to make the album, so I haven't driven in a while.
It seems like you spent a lot of time exploring with this one, recording in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires. Did you find each location drawing something different out in you musically?
John: Definitely. Being down in Buenos Aires really brought a different perspective out in the music. It really led us to develop an obsession with rhythm. We don't speak any Spanish, and it was amazing to still see our music connect with people.
Connor: I think being down there and seeing the appreciation for the music even though we're American was great. I think it let us explore — especially in the live setting. We felt comfortable testing things out, and I think when you let yourself do that you learn more about what's working in your music.
Considering rhythm is such a central element to a lot of these tracks, I thought you should rate your abilities as dancers.
Connor: I'd say we try our best. We both love dancing. We're going to this thing tonight [at Double Door] called Trap Tuesday. Sometimes we'll go there and work on our dance moves [Laughs].
You spent two years working on this album before hooking up with Joey. Are you generally prone to procrastination? Were you always up late writing papers the night before they were due?
John: [Laughs] I was for sure. We felt like the first record was going to define our music, which made it tough. We wanted to cover all these different angles because we weren't sure what our niche was.
Connor: We recorded the entire thing ourselves, mastered it and released it. Then realized we didn't think it was finished and decided we wanted to connect with a producer. So we took it down, and at the same time connected with Joey.
You mentioned part of the reason you initially went to Los Angeles was to learn how to license songs for film and television. Have you had any luck?
Connor: Yeah. We recently had a placement on an episode of MTV's “The Real World,” which was cool.
John: It was really exciting. It was like hearing [our music] on the radio for the first time. It wasn't too long of a clip, but we did turn [the television] up a touch.
Andy Downing is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic @andydowning33
FinleyKnight personality test
What's the last album you bought?
John: “Stay True” by Harvard Bass
Connor: “Nonfiction” by The Range
Song you've listened to on repeat recently?
John: “Small Talk” by Ultraista “But the remix version by Four Tet.”
Connor: “Todd Terje has a song called 'Inspector Norse.' I just discovered it last week and I've been listening to it a lot.”
Song you never want to hear again?
John: “I just saw a post online today about songs of the '90s, and the first one up was 'We Like to Party' by the Vengaboys, and I definitely never want to hear that again.”
Connor: “Maybe one of our songs we recorded in the garage 10 years ago? I don't know if I have a definitive answer.”
Best concert you've seen in the last year?
John: “You know what? That Atoms for Peace show we went to at UIC was awesome.”
Connor: Lettuce at Concord Music Hall in Chicago
New band you don't know personally that deserves to be big?
John: Chrome Sparks “He's already getting big, but I think he's going to be huge.
Connor: “The Range deserves to be big, and he's playing Pitchfork, so he's on his way.”
Favorite movie ever?
John: “It's corny, but I love 'Avatar.'”
Connor: “I'd have to go with 'The Rock.'”
Chicago's best music venue?
John: Lincoln Hall
Connor: Lincoln Hall
FinleyKnight, 9 p.m. Fri. June 27 at Lincoln Hall. $10.