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Monday, June 20, 2016

"Some Dudes" Made A Record: Twin Peaks Talk Massachusetts, Touring, and Jeopardy!

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Twin Peaks - DANIEL TOPETE
  • Daniel Topete
  • Twin Peaks

If the marijuana legalization movement ever grows tired of “The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre – you know, the “smoke weed every day” song that everyone mistakenly attributes to Snoop Dogg – perhaps they should commission Twin Peaks to write its replacement. The band’s herbal habit keeps coming up over the course of our interview, and I can’t help but wonder if any other indie-rock band is as qualified as they are to wax poetic on bud and shatter.

But hey, no judgment here. I’m all for enjoying yourself however you see fit, and it's clear that hotboxing on a regular basis has not kept the Chicago quintet from being productive in the studio or on the road. I catch keyboardist Colin Croom partway through their American tour in support of their positively-received third album, Down In Heaven.

Unlike sophomore album Wild Onion, which was recorded in two weeks’ worth of grueling twelve-hour sessions in their native Chicago, recording Down in Heaven offered the band a change in scenery and a chance to record without any real pressure. Twin Peaks retreated to “our loving brother and friend” Ben Kramer’s estate in rural southwestern Massachusetts – Tascam 8-track reel-to-reel tape machine in tow – to record 18 songs, 13 of which made the final cut. Also on the schedule: baseball games, bong hits, swimming in Bash Bish Falls, and drunken evenings on a party barge they built themselves. “It quickly turned into something like the best summer camp imaginable,” Croom says. “Apart from nit-picky frustration that can come with recording takes for a song, the experience was very ethereal.”
The pressure-free experience shifted their mindset, and the music followed suit. While it would be difficult to justify calling Down in Heaven even-tempered or tranquil (the lyric, “Have you ever been told to follow your dreams? / Have you ever seen the wave of shit that it brings?” on “Have You Ever” attests the opposite), it’s far more cohesive and slightly less reckless than its predecessors. While their usual no-fucks-given reinterpretation of sixties and seventies rock remains intact, the record’s Some Girls-era Stones vibes receive a major boost from increased musicianship and a surprising embrace of vulnerability.

Newfound emotional openness aside, Twin Peaks have yet to age out of their wild youth or their lifelong love of Lou Reed. Album opener “Walk To The One You Love” is what The Velvet Underground would have sounded like had they formed on the shores of Lake Michigan instead of the Hudson River. “Holding Roses” strolls along with a distinct Reed-esque guitar-led rhythm. Sure, they’ve come a long way from their days as teenage slackers on 2013’s Sunken, but not so far as to deny themselves a damn good time in every Keith Richards-inspired strum on “Butterfly.”
Croom is careful not to subscribe himself and his bandmates to the maturity narrative created by critics following Down in Heaven’s release. “We are all still young and fucking up,” he says. “It’s got a sense of growth. But at the end of the day, it’s still just some dudes making a record.”

Those same dudes are now getting a kick out of touring. Playing the new record alongside older material has given the entire setlist a shot in the arm, and they’re seeing some of their largest turnouts to date as a result. “It ain’t lost any energy. We aren’t ones to stop moving while we are playing,” says Croom.

They won’t get a substantial break from touring before winter – a claim Croom phrases more like a guess than a certainty – but they’re hardly counting the days until the snow flies. “Touring is great,” says Croom. “Nothing like doing what you love all over the damn place.”

Plans for an already well-deserved (if still far on the horizon) break include watching the reboot of the David Lynch show from which the band takes its name, along with relaxing at home with friends, family, and Alex Trebek. “Whenever I’m home I end up getting stoned and watching Jeopardy! with my sisters,” Croom says of his post-tour agenda.

In the meantime, he’ll take Tour Life for $200.

Twin Peaks play at 8:00 pm on Tuesday, June 21, at The Independent.

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Elle Coxon

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