Ryan and Todd Bayless have a love for music and writing that goes back to their days as kids growing up in Gainesville. The men — who were born in 1972 in Stillwater, Okla. — are both living in Austin now.

After years of writing music, learning new instruments and working at various occupations, they decided to form their own band called “Twotrack.”

“Our band name “TWOTRACK” suggests the parallel marks left by truck tires on back roads as well as train tracks, and also stereo tape recorders that record two tracks at once, all subtle references to our twindom,” Ryan Bayless said.

Their parents, Jerry Bayless and their mother, Patricia were both educators. Jerry Bayless was the dean of students at NCTC, then Cooke County Community College for many years. Patricia Bayless was a substitute teacher who taught in Gainesville ISD and was also an English instructor at NCTC.

Both said their parents were a major influence on them.

“Our mother is really into classical piano,” Ryan remarked during a recent telephone interview from his home in Austin. He said he doesn’t play much classical music these days, but sometimes his mother plays some beautiful compositions, reminding Ryan that when he was six or seven he, too, played Beethoven or Chopin.

A favorite memory of their father is of riding around in his little Datsun roadster, listening to KGAF and waiting for a Willie Nelson song to come on.

“Then, we’d go to Lindsey or Muenster and our dad would treat us to some beef jerky,” Todd said.

The boys attended Edison Elementary and lived with their parents on Cypress Circle.

They also remember playing baseball at Leonard Park and participating in Cub and Boy Scouts.

The Bayless boys said they spent an “idyllic” childhood in Gainesville exploring creeks, chasing water mocassions (until they found them) and “running around Gainesville completely unhinged.”

Ryan said he and his brother used to go a corner store called The Dollar Saver just down the street from Fair View Cemetery and play Miss Pac Man or Galaga. “We could always scrounge up 50 cents out of the couch,” Ryan said with a laugh.

Both boys performed with the Gainesville Middle School choir singing songs such as “Yellow Submarine.” He also recalls singing “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” once with the choir at a Rotary Club meeting at K-bob’s Steakhouse.

The family moved to Dallas in 1984.

Both attended the University of North Texas from 1990-1994. Ryan was an English major. Todd focused his attention on biology and anthropology. Both say their best friends were always musicians, most of whom were in the jazz program at UNT.

The brothers have also lived and worked in Denton, Dallas, Groveland, Calif., Taos, N.M., Olympia, Wash., Jewell, Ore., Aragon, N.M., Salt Lake City, UT, Durango, Colo., and Flagstaff, Ariz.

Their first CD as the band “Twotrack” is an effort which came about after years of honing their skills on many types of musical instruments.

Much of their musical expertise is self-taught. For example, Todd decided to learn to play banjo while working as a wildlife biologist in Oregan. He bought the banjo from a neighbor named “Crusty Dave” and spent hours alone “playing endless cords.”

“We pretty much play by ear, but we do know the structure of music loosely,” Ryan said.

Their new CD “Burn the Bridge” is a collection of songs that combine various melodies and sounds from instruments on which the Bayless brothers have become proficient over the years.

Ryan Bayless plays acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, violin, piano, organ, drums and percussion on the album. Todd Bayless plays banjo, acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel, drums and percussion. Both add vocals.

The brothers are identical twins, but their shared characteristics go beyond that. Ryan and Todd Bayless are “mirror-twins” meaning they mirror each other physically.

According to Ryan, Todd is left handed while Ryan is right-handed. Todd’s hair parts on the right and Ryan’s on the left.

‘We’ve always been best friends,” Todd said. “We’ve done eveything together. We have an inherent ability to know exactly what the other one is going to do. We’ve even had kind of ESP experiences.”

This “oneness” works well when they are performing. Ryan said most musicians take their cues from each other as they perform. He said he and his brother don’t even have to look at each other when they are on stage. Each knows the other so well.

As children, music was always an integral part of their lives. Ryan said he began jazz and classical piano lessons when he was six. His piano instructor was Harold Kafer, a longtime resident of Gainesville and professor of music at NCTC, then known as Cooke County Junior College.

Todd said he “picked up the guitar at age 9 and instantly started learning Beatles songs.”

After they grew up Ryan and Todd Bayless loved to travel. The western part of the country was a favorite location for their very productive wanderings. It was in places such as Oregan where Todd Bayless sometimes lived and worked out of a small trailer on the rainy coast. He spent countless hours learning new instruments, experimenting with different styles of music, collecting material for songs, and writing just for the love of it.

The Bayless’s have been part of bands such as The Barnstormers (so named because the band swooped down on venues), Deep Blue Creek and the Nightjars, a Durango, Colo. band.

The brothers say they have written over 50 songs. They have lived apart from time to time but got together again in 1999 when they found a house in Durango, Colo. “on a whim” and decided to move in. They worked parttime and continued playing and writing music. Todd began playing with a “local traditional bluegrass band.”

Some time later, the Bayless’s decided to form their own band with two of their friends, Brad Dehart and Steve Smith. They named the band, The Nightjars, and recorded their original songs in the basement of a friend’s home. The ten songs of their first official album “Seems like Day” were recorded in just four days.

Although the four members of the band have gone in different directions, the brothers said they still play with their former bandmates often.

Todd said he has recently returned to Austin from working and living in eastern Arizona. He was a wildlife research biologist as well as an EMT on a Navajo reservation.

“I had always wanted to live somewhere that wasn’t part of my culture,” he said.

Being accepted by the Native Americans was not easy at first. “They were a little distrustful, naturally,” Todd said. An anthropologist, he shared some of his experiences in nature with the Navajos for whom certain animals have enormous cultural significance. Owls, he said are considered messengers of death, while eagles are “the greatest good luck symbol.”

He said it took a little bit of time to gain their trust, but once the Navajo people accepted him, he began to feel comfortable around them.

“Their sense of humor is very similiar to Texans, lots of joking and teasing,” he said.

Todd and Ryan Bayless’s CD “Burn the Bridge” has a comforting, nurturing feel. The sounds of banjos and harmonicas recall the Appalachian roots of the brother’s music.

They describe their music as an attempt at a “cosmic American sound” and count Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Jimmy Reid, Bill Monroe and Neil Young among their musical influences.

Ryan and Todd Bayless can be reached through their website at www.twotrack.us.