During the early '80s, the brothers joined a heavy metal band called Strange Agents. By the end of the decade, however, the group's name had changed to Nelson, as the twins were the only remaining members. With Matthew on bass, Gunnar on guitar, and a handful of music vets onboard (including guitarist Brett Garsed and former Vinnie Vincent Invasion drummer Bobby Rock), Nelson made their debut in 1990 with the release of After the Rain. Filled with polished, radio-friendly pop-metal, the album was a major hit in America, where it sold over a million copies and charted a number one single with "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection." Three additional singles cracked the Top 40.
Despite the success of Nelson's debut, Geffen Records balked at the band's intended follow-up. Entitled Imaginator, the proposed album was heavier than its predecessor and sported a conceptual theme. Geffen refused to release the record and sent the brothers back to the drawing board, resulting in a five-year hiatus between the release of After the Rain and the appearance of the band's sophomore effort, the largely acoustic Because They Can. Musical tastes had changed considerably during that period, and the album fared poorly, causing Geffen to drop the band from its roster. Matthew and Gunnar responded by founding their own independent label, Stone Canyon Records, which they named in tribute to their father's band.
With the future of Nelson back in their hands, Matthew and Gunnar finally released Imaginator on Stone Canyon in 1996, followed by the progressive rock-leaning The Silence Is Broken in 1997. A year later, the brothers switched gears yet again with the country-tinged Brother Harmony. Nelson closed out the decade with the sparkling, melody-driven pop/rock album Life. In 2000, the siblings paid homage to their father with the live album Like Father, Like Sons, which featured covers of classic Rick Nelson songs.
Though it would be several years before Nelson's next studio album, the brothers kept busy during the early 2000s playing live shows and working on side projects. In 2006, Gunnar appeared as a cast member on the third season of the VH1 reality show Celebrity Fit Club. The following year, Nelson reunited for a cover of the classic holiday song "Jingle Bell Rock," which was included on the Razor & Tie compilation Monster Ballads Xmas. In 2010, the pair signed a recording contract with the Italian hard rock and heavy metal label Frontiers Records, and released the new studio album Lightning Strikes Twice, which found them returning to the anthemic pop-metal of After the Rain. In 2015, Nelson delivered their second full-length studio album on Frontiers, the similarly pop/metal-infused Peace Out. That same year saw the brothers release an LP of holiday songs called This Christmas. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi