Since starting out as just another band from Brooklyn in 2007, the Gregory Brothers have morphed into the viral-video mad scientists behind "Auto-Tune the News" and "Double Rainbow." Their most popular clip — "Bedroom Intruder," starring Huntsville, Ala.'s Antoine Dodson, the brother of an alleged attempted rape victim — was the No. 1 most viewed YouTube video of 2010 (excluding major label music videos). So you can run and tell that, homeboy.
The Gregory Brothers include three actual brothers — Michael, Andrew and Evan, natives of Radford, Va. — as well as Evan's wife, Sarah Fullen Gregory. They've got music school training and their soulful Meet the Gregory Brothers! 2009 debut EP is quite good, but they didn't break out until "Auto-Tune the News." The series, which began in 2009, applies the pitch correction software T-Pain made famous to television pundits and gives them a backing beat, making "unintentional singers" out of folks like Katie Couric and Joe Biden. The series has drawn millions of views, but the group went into the stratosphere last year with the online explosion of "Bedroom Intruder." The song was culled from an actual local news report, combining taunts from the impassioned, charismatic Dodson — "You don't have to come and confess, we looking for you" — with an inarguably catchy tune. To date, the song has sold more than 400,000 copies (profits are split 50/50 with Dodson) and even charted on the Billboard Hot 100. "It was immediately clear to us that he had the potential to be one of the best unintentional singers of all time, and our goal was to help him realize that," explains Evan of the track's genesis.
"Bedroom Intruder" has fueled a strange sort of Internet celebrity for the group, and earlier this year they were invited to contribute to the Oscars telecast. That vignette with Harry Potter's Ron Weasley singing a seductive ballad, and the Twilight guy with his shirt off? Theirs. "It was such a wild and frantic ride, but because it was live TV, we were dubious it would run," says Andrew, "especially the longer and longer Kirk Douglas rambled on."
Now, they're playing shows around the country as part of the YouTube-sponsored "Digitour," which features artists famous for viral videos, including one-man-band/beatboxer DeStorm, and Dave Days, who is known for his songs of devotion to a Miley Cyrus cardboard cutout. For the tour, the Gregory Brothers will musically accompany their hit videos, which will be projected onto a screen behind them. Expect them to perform their hits, including "Bedroom Intruder" and "Winning" (starring everyone's favorite former "Two and a Half Men" star), with a full band. "We'll be playing the red keytar," promises Sarah.
The shows could be some serious, modern, zeitgeist-y fun, or — considering they're based on a format that hasn't really been tested outside of cyberspace — they could crash and burn. "What's interesting is that [we're] going after an audience that's based primarily online," notes Evan, adding that, in collaboration with the tech wizards at Google, they will periodically broadcast live feeds from backstage, their concerts and their tour bus on the group's YouTube channel.
The Gregory Brothers have other projects in the works as well, including a development deal with Comedy Central to write a pilot. Though the program is a long way from airing, they have a script, which they describe as a musically inclined half-hour sitcom, featuring versions of themselves inhabiting both the real and online worlds. "Imagine 'The Monkees' in the year 2011," explains Andrew.
Dodson, meanwhile, is looking to create some showbiz magic of his own. He's shooting a pilot for a reality show chronicling his recent move to Los Angeles. (Media company Entertainment One is reportedly behind it.) The Gregorys say he nonetheless gets back to Huntsville fairly often, however, so who knows? A drop-in for the Atlanta show is perhaps not entirely out of the question.
It's clear for the group that what could have been a passing fad has legs, and they are nowadays dedicating themselves full-time to their acoustic and digital jams. "We have no day jobs other than baby-sitting each other," notes Evan. In that case, expect more giddy, hummable cultural snapshots to be the result.