While most people watch the hit singing contest American Idol on television, a select few get to live it. For nearly four months last summer, Eli and Nat Bremer, Winona Senior High School grads, vied for two spots on the hottest stage in Hollywood. The next American Idol will be announced next week and while the twin brothers didn’t make it to Hollywood, they did sing for the show’s three celebrity judges.
Eli Bremer, 28, right and his twin brother Nat test their pipes for an American Idol film crew during one of their auditions in St. Louis, Mo. The brothers made it to the third round and performed for the show’s three celebrity judges.
Editing techniques for major network shows are complex. Producers and editors can take hours and hours of footage and compile it into a 30-second segment. Days at audition sites look like mere moments when the show actually airs. And even though the brothers Bremer spent the entire summer auditioning and their 15 minutes of fame was even less than that, it is something they said they would never forget.
On June 28, 2011, the twins took a leap of faith and made the nearly 500-mile trek from Winona to St. Louis, Mo., for their last attempt to make it big in the music biz.
“We’re identical twins and we have been signing our whole lives,” Eli Bremer said. “We have a very musically inclined family and we grew up listening to and playing music.”
Their mother, Malia Storovich, was a music therapist and introduced the boys to music at a young age. Growing up, the twins played gig after gig and in their senior year of high school, they played 53 shows in just one month.
“We started a band with another set of twins, Adam and Marcus Krings,” Bremer said. “And with our initials we formed the band AMEN. It’s funny because we were known as Winona’s Boy Band.”
As the two grew older, got married and had children, the age limit for an American Idol contestant was fast approaching. Always the procrastinator, Bremer said appearing on the show was something he knew he could do, but said his confidence just wasn’t there.
“I began to think about this being the last year that we even could try out for the show and I knew I’d regret not doing it,” Bremer said. “So I told my brother that we might as well do it.”
The brothers brought their younger sister Samara Storovich, 20, also a singer, to the tryouts in St. Louis. Arriving at the sports arena, Bremer said the craziness of more than 7,000 American Idol hopefuls was overwhelming. The siblings arrived at the arena at 8 a.m. only to wait in line until the middle of the afternoon. Tables of four people sang for several producers and judges simultaneously. The selection process, Bremer said, was quick and ruthless.
“The judges knew what they were looking for,” he said. “Sometimes they would dismiss the entire table right away or pick one or two people to move on. I never saw more than two chosen from a table.”
Together, the brothers sang “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers, and separately Eli sang “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” by The Temptations and Nat sang “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. After their sister sang Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep,” the judges chose the twins to advance to the second round of auditions.
About a month later, the twins returned to St. Louis wearing the same outfits and signed a strict contract agreeing to keep the results a secret. The group of contestants had been narrowed down to 250 and the brothers had to impress once again.
“This time we were singing for the bigger writers of the show like Nigel Lythgoe, Simon Fuller and Chris Fuller. The big guys,” Bremer said. “They loved us and we made it through to the second round with flying colors.”
Three weeks later, the Bremer twins packed their bags a third time, brought their entire family and headed back to St. Louis for the third round to perform for Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Getting used to the constant presence of cameras and photographers, the twins walked through the now famous doors to face the last audition.
“We were very humbled to be in front of Steven, J.Lo, and Randy,” Bremer said. “However, at the end of the day, if they didn’t like our style, we were just another person who has a voice. I wasn’t really nervous because I just kept saying they were just people too.”
Bremer said Lythgoe was pumping his fist off camera while they were singing but the judges felt they weren’t right for the show and dismissed the twins.
“We said thank you for the time and this opportunity and went on our way,” Bremer said. “To be honest with you, after that happened, Nat didn’t really feel like singing for a few weeks after that. But I didn’t feel the same.”
The support continued when they returned home and Bremer said they haven’t let this stop them from singing. Throughout the experience, the brothers have strengthened the more important roles in their lives.
“No amount of money or fame can take the place of the strong family values,” their mother Malia said. “I didn’t see this kind of life for my sons but you have to let your kids chase their dreams.”
Living in Eau Claire, Eli has continued to dedicate his life to music. He is opening his own store called When I’m Sixty-Four, dedicated to all things The Beatles. The brothers get together from time to time to belt out some tunes. And even though the Wisconsin residents don’t see each other as often as they’d like, Bremer said when they get together they don’t skip a beat.
“Everything routes itself in different ways and my roots are still and always will be there with music,” he said.
For more information about When I’m Sixty-Four, visit the website.