London brothers Ronnel and Loral make music - they also owe a guy in a tracksuit some money
Every now and then a band comes along with such panache and with such a magisterial supporting cast in tow that you have to wonder if the band are real at all. Sons of Raphael could be that band. Rich in mythology and heaped with praise after just a whistle of online activity, are they really as authentic as they promise? When brothers Loral and Ronnel take a seat at my table in the smallest Japanese restaurant in Hampstead the cynicism fades away, at least for a short while.
“Our parents, they used to be involved in scientology in the 1980s but they don’t really tell us much about it,” says Ronnel, all dressed in black and playing with his glasses as he flicks his thick head of hair to hear Loral.
“They weren’t practicing scientology, more in a research kind of way, but they were certainly admirers of L. Ron Hubbard and that’s actually Ronnel’s name,” he says.
Ronnel smiles. “They reversed the initials. We are sons of the Raphael family, so the band name makes sense at least.”
An eccentric but warm welcome, Loral and Ronnel are wise guys with sharp vocabs and a curious way for such a young age. Despite hailing from around the corner, conversation seems to flow like an early Noah Baumbach script, helped by accents picked up from an international school upbringing. So they’ve got the backstory to match the image, I ponder, as a soup versus sake discussion ensues. “I had Sake yesterday,” Ronnel shrugs, prompting Loral to order soup all round. Just as celebrated oddball artists Gilbert and George eat five times a week at their local kebab house, it doesn’t take much to imagine Sons of Raphael dining here every other night.
“I once got lost in Disneyland when I was a kid and that was a really scary experience, let me tell you,” Ronnel exclaims on the subject of family holidays, “although we weren’t able to get the full experience when we were there because there was a rapist and all the parents were very panicked. Fortunately, we never met him.” This seems something of a Raphael specialty, taking an everyday subject and adding a concrete slab of darkness. Loral twists the knife: “But maybe we did and he was dressed as Mickey Mouse.” Humour to the brothers’ armory.