Usually, young musicians leave their parents' house to become rock stars. The brother-and-sister duo Durry, however, caught on only after moving back in with their mom and dad during the pandemic.
"I think it helped we had a relatable story, being stuck in suburbia in the pandemic and all that," a still visibly wonderstruck Austin Durry guessed.
"We also had a bit of luck," he rightfully added.
That good fortune came via the video-driven social media platform TikTok. Now Austin and his kid sister Taryn are being courted by record labels and even praised by Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit notoriety.
Playing their first headlining gig next Wednesday at 7th St. Entry (already sold out), the two siblings never made music together before last year. In fact, since he's 29 and she's 21, they hadn't even hung out together much over the past decade.
Then came COVID.
Austin had planned to tour with his other band, Coyote Kid, for most of 2020. Instead, he and his wife, Ashley, wound up moving into the walk-out basement apartment under his parents' house on a shady, hilly lane in Burnsville. Suddenly, he and Taryn were around each other all the time.
One thing the siblings had in common was lifelong music training from their dad, David, a music teacher and church music director.
"I just naturally started bouncing song ideas off Taryn and would ask her, 'Hey, does this sound cool?'" Austin recounted in an interview at their small home-studio space (also in Mom and Dad's house).
"I became his Gen-Z eyes and ears," Taryn added, laughing with her brother. "I'm here to keep him hip."
Their TikTok success certainly shows a youthful attitude. Better known for tween-pop dance routines and funny slapstick videos, it was just one of several social-media platforms where Austin would post recordings in what he called "the slot machine of modern music promotion."
"I was actually very close to giving up on TikTok, because everything we'd posted before didn't get much attention," he said.
"But I got inspired to post that one song while it was still in progress. And that's when things went bananas."
That song was "Who's Laughing Now." The heavily strummed, Nirvana-meets-Imagine-Dragons rock ditty boasts lightly angsty lyrics about the things that parents and preachers tell us are important, and that turn out not to matter at all.
"I'm just as broke as the day I was born," Austin howls in the song's chorus. "But I still make it work just like everybody else does."
For reasons that maybe can only be explained in social-media analytics meetings — but don't rule out the fact that it actually is a great tune — the rough demo of Austin's perturbed song blew up to tens of thousands of views within hours of being posted to TikTok in mid-September, on its way to nearly a million clicks.
The Durrys were excited by the sudden spike, of course. But there was one problem.
"I only had the one verse and chorus when I posted it, and Taryn hadn't even heard any of it yet," Austin remembered.
"We had to actually finish the song!"
From 'Losers' to winners
Luckily, the siblings were already working at their friend Jack Vondrachek's Tangerine Studio in Woodbury on an EP, which they had successfully paid for via a Kickstarter campaign started months earlier.
They went in to record "Who's Laughing Now" the day after it hit TikTok. Austin was still writing the last verse on his way to the studio.
Three days later, the finished track was formally posted across most digital streaming sites, where it soon generated a lot more traction — including more than 300,000 plays so far on Spotify and nearly 1 million on TikTok.
Other songs from the duo's would-be EP are taking off now, too. They include "Losers Club" and "Dancing Alone," both synthesizer-laden pop-punk tunes that spit out the pride Austin had to swallow when he moved back in with Mom and Dad during quarantine.
"Pack it in, give it up, and let it go," he sings in "Losers Club," the EP's title track.
"I laugh it off, live it up, and let it slide / I light a cigarette and try another time / What's the point of living if you never strive for more / But I'm not keeping score."
This personal style of songwriting was new for Austin, whose other band (still very much active) has churned out three albums based around fantastical fiction, like a rock 'n' roll answer to "Dungeons & Dragons."
"Coyote Kid involves intense lore and is really creative," he said. "I still love it, but there's a certain level of honesty and my own personality missing from that. Especially during [quarantine], I wanted to write with a smaller focus — smaller-picture kind of stuff, with personal observations."
Taryn's observation: "I think [Austin] struck a chord with other people our age who've been going through a lot of the same challenges," she said. "I know I could relate."
With the sudden boost in attention, Durry has put its EP release plans on hold and is instead working on a full-length album. In the interim, the duo is releasing one song per month online, including a new one out this week titled "Worse for Wear."
For next week's Entry gig, the duo will expand into a five-piece band with an added guitarist and drummer, plus Austin's wife playing bass.
Learning the instrument was Ashley Durry's pandemic boredom-killer, she said. "And I already had the right name for the band," she quipped.
However, Austin and Taryn will remain the core duo seen on screen and in photos as Durry. Their tall frames and thick heads of dark hair match up nicely, and the "sibling band" angle makes for a nice, marketable story à la the Carpenters and White Stripes (never mind that the latter duo lied about being siblings).
Austin said it's more than just a good gimmick, though.
"We learned to play guitar the same way, we were brought up the same way," he said. "I think that's definitely a factor in the music."
Another thing that hasn't changed: Austin is still living in the apartment below his parents' house, even as quarantine restrictions have eased.
He and Taryn have yet to make much money off the music; streaming royalties take months to come in, and are notoriously low anyway.
They hope to hit the road in a big way next year after dropping their album — all of which depends on who they wind up working with out of the many professional suitors now calling. One unnamed executive even flew into town to take them out to dinner two weeks ago.
"We're talking with a couple of the really 'major' major labels, a lot of smaller indie labels, and then a bunch of management people and publicists, too," Austin said.
"We haven't made any decisions yet. We're taking our time with it to try to get it right."
Likewise, he said he's also not in any hurry to leave his current nest at Mom and Dad's place.
"Things are going pretty well here," he wryly noted.
With: Faith Boblett, Theyself.
When: 8:30 p.m. Wed.
Where: 7th St. Entry, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls.
Tickets: Sold out.
Follow online: Linktr.ee/Durrymusic