Uncharted is our weekly showcase of independent artists we think you should hear. This week, meet the barely-legal Twin Peaks.
Twin Peaks are a bunch of reckless, fun-loving brats grown big in Chicago — the same city as their spiritual older brothers, Smith Westerns — and let loose to drink, smoke, play some punk rock and otherwise wreak teenage havoc. God bless them. At 19 years old, they're young and naive enough to go straight ahead and name their band Twin Peaks because it sounds cool (and to not give a fuck when everybody rains holy hell on them for doing it), but preternaturally gifted with good taste: "I learned how to really play guitar from jamming on T.Rex around 8th grade," singer-guitarist Cadien Lake James tells me.
The band nearly called it quits in the fall of 2012 when it was time to do the college thing, but the buzz generated by their self-released album Sunken and an invite to SXSW pulled them centrifugally back to their Midwest home base. And like all the best music from college-aged bands, the record feels like shot-gunning a beer: it's a rush, it goes straight to your head, and you gotta watch your mouth on the jagged bits. Sunken also gets right to the point, abridging Girls and Surfer Blood, who look slow-moving in comparison.
Autumn Tone just re-released Sunken on August 9, 2013, and it's basically just been growing fat on praise ever since. I shot emails back and forth with Cadien Lake James while they're on their Breast Coast tour. We talk about being called "the next big thing," what beats university essays, and other young bloods to look out for.
So you each did a semester away at college before you decided to drop-out and put the four-piece back together at home. I really can’t blame you. If it’s between shitting out an essay for your 100-level lit course or playing SXSW, the choice seems clear. Was there a particular moment when you knew you’d made the right call?
I feel like I'd made the call last summer during our first tour before we were even approached by Autumn Tone, but I certainly felt it when we played a home town show at FeelTrip the day we got back to Chicago from school in December, f'n big hometown crowd goin wild and the floor bouncing up and down. Every show reminds me I love what we get to do.
The Dictators joked about being “The Next Big Thing.” Right now, a bunch of people — Interview, Chicago Magazine, Esquire — think you’re it, in earnest. How’s that feel? Is it more a feather in your collective cap or a load of pressure?
It certainly feels good to get recognition, that's rad, but I think it's a double edged sword; I choose not to read reviews of the album (although I did read p4k's... haha), I just think it's easy for press to be repetitive in what they write about and begin to pinhole what a band does, and we're just gonna keep doing what we love to do and not worry about what kind of attention it gets.
You list T. Rex’s Marc Bolan, Bowie, and The Reatards as major influences. That’s a good holy trinity to best understand where you guys come from musically. What do you think you take from each?
Well I don't find influences easy to pinpoint, but they're all some of my favorites. I learned how to really play guitar from jamming on T.Rex around 8th grade, freshman year, and have always dug how rock and roll dude was while still being sweet n smooth as honey, and I similarly latched on to Bowie cause of his croons -- also love how diverse and cinematic his music is, the progression of his sound and aesthetics throughout his albums is so cool to me, says a lot about playing whatever the fuck you feel like. And [Jay Reatard's] Blood Visions is just one of my favorite records ever, great punk record that's got a little perfect subtle element of pop punk, so catchy, and the speed and intensity of his live performance taught us a lot.
Sunken is super fun, just sparking with power. Is there a theme that unifies all those tracks for you guys? Something about the time in your lives in which you wrote it, maybe? “Wilding around,” as you’ve put it, comes to mind.
I think we were all just stoked on playing in a band and getting ready to tour, we recorded the album a week before we left for the west coast and had just started getting steam in the Chicago DIY scene. I hate to sound cliche, but definitely getting ready to go to college and "growing up" was just a big theme, we're all positive happy dudes but it was a big moment for us or whatever.
I’ve read that some of you went to high school with Chance the Rapper; you’re buddies. Your brother Hal was in Smith Westerns. Why is the young Chicago scene so tight-knit? What’s that about?
I think a lot of it is owed to the way Chicago Public Schools work, kids go to elementary school and then apply to these different high schools and you end up going to school with kids from all over the city, and then you meet your new friends' old buddies from elementary school and everyone's just really interconnected. BUT I also think we were lucky, I grew up around a lot of creative people in my generation.
Are there any other young turks playing around Chicago or that you’ve met in your travels that you’d like to tell us about before they get BNMed by Pitchfork?
Sister Crystals and Yawn, Today's Hits, and some actually young dudes would be The Boxers, they've been doin what we did last summer and just toured out west and have been getting their foot in the DIY scene. MTVGhosts too. And outside of Chicago, Cherry Glazerr are some young bloods who rule real hard.
And so this would basically be a negligent interview — introduction-wise — if I didn’t ask about the name. I hear you didn’t know about the David Lynch show when you switched over from the moniker “Friend.” If not those that come with the show, what kind of associations were you going for? Why did the name seem cool to you without knowing a thing about Laura Palmer?
I was just a stoner at the time and though Twin Peaks was a rad name, it sounded big and made me think of mountains like some Lord of the Rings shit, it sounded spiritual n trippy. We really didn't put much thought into it.
And since we broached the Lynch thing, I see you made a stop at the Double R, now Twede’s cafe, when you were touring through Washington. I gotta ask: how was that cherry pie?
Delicious but WAY overpriced. Hahahah.