When i write reviews one of the common traps I try hard not to get lost in is comparing every new band I review to one of the sacred dark gods of the 80’s and 90’s that the group I am listening to sounds like. It’s a pretty common tactic and lets face it an effective one. It’s easy to associate with what is familiar when it often feels like the world of goth/industrial/darkwave/new wave/ect has pretty much been discovered and artists are searching for more subtle ways to test the boundaries of what is possible and find some new ground, I figured I would take a moment to acknowledge this is a reality for a lot of people.
About a year ago I had an awakening. I had spent many years wrapped in the music of my past. I clung to the same mainstay bands I had been enjoying and had given up a bit on finding something new that inspired me. Then something happened, I found this band from Texas. Two young men that created something so familiar and so fresh at the same time. Twin Tribes album Shadows spoke to me, filled me with hope for a future of dark music that took what had built my passion with intricate snake charmed guitar, thick driving bass lines, and romantic sensual vocals that transported me to another place. A place still full of magic and mystery. I decided I needed to share this feeling and started the music review page Sounds and Shadows. Since then I have discovered a whole universe and wonder in modern music. It all started with that first review of Shadows by Twin Tribes. I even got a chance to play a show with Luis and Joel and saw the same thing in their live show I first heard that first time I spun the record. Tonight I finally get to publish this long awaited interview with these talented artists. I hope it gives you a glimpse into their process and how I have also come to love the people behind that beautiful music.
Ken: Your live show and album captures such symmetry of sound and stage performance. Two people who know and care about each other. How did you meet and how does that history come through in the music you make?
Joel: – We met through a previous band we were in. Luis joined as our keyboard player, and we kind of went from there. We both learned a lot through our separate experiences in music, and with other projects. When Luis first showed me the demo for Shadows, I was instantly hooked. I told him as much, too, and made sure to let him know I was there in case he ever needed a bass player, or my help in any way. When he reached out and we came together for Twin Tribes, we were adamant about not making the same mistakes we had in the past. We have given of ourselves equally into making the music that we dearly love, and I think we can both agree that our friendship, and respect for each other, has grown in this last year working together.
Ken: Shadows is an album I play constantly and love to tell people about. It is deeply personal and stirs emotion. Tell me about how you write songs together, what is your process?
Luis: – I think the writing process differs. Sometimes I can come up with an idea/riff, record it and send it to Joel and he will give me feedback or add to it. But also sometimes we get together and create a song from scratch with both of us in the same room. Then after we have structured the song we’ll leave the lyrics for the end.
Ken: You have had such success in 2018 with the album, are you surprised by this? What is your goal for 2019?
Luis – We’re definitely surprised by the success the album has had and just the positive reaction it has caused in general. When we created Shadows we had no expectations. We simply wanted to create an album from our inspirations and put it into tape. We had no idea we would end up working with labels and releasing it on vinyl. It’s still surreal for us.
Joel – Our goal for this year is to release another album, tour, and make so many new friends along the way. Honestly, I’ve met some amazing and interesting people in our travels, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things.
Ken: Doing music as a career is a difficult journey. It takes great will and desire. What drives you to keep on and making music?
Luis: It definitely is a difficult journey, especially balancing it out with our careers on the side. I think the love for the music is what keeps us motivated. After this year, our motivation has only increased to continue, and we’re excited to share the new music soon.
Ken: You have gotten to play with some incredible bands lately. I know when we played with you it was intimidating, wanting to be our best. Is there anyone you played with that intimidated you because you respected them so much?
Luis: Getting to meet and play with other talented artists is one of the best things that Twin Tribes has brought us. I’ll always get nervous whether it’s playing by ourselves or playing a sold out show with a famous band. Just to name a few that made us feel that way were Zanias, Indradevi, Mr. Kitty, Spectres, Altar de Fey and Second Still.
Joel: All of those bands that Luis mentioned. I’ll add that the Actors, Creux Lies, Bootblacks bill we just played was especially nerve wracking. When you’re surrounded by so many talented musicians, you can’t help but feel a little nervous. It’s a humbling feeling.
Ken: I’ve listened to your LP many times and have a lot of favorite tracks but “Portal to the Void” sticks with me. What was your inspiration for this song and how did you bring it to life?
Luis: Portal was created with our Roland JX-3P’s sequencer. We used that for the main synth riff, and then started adding layers to it and the song was born. It was inspired by a clairvoyant character from a show called Penny Dreadful.
Ken: When you came to Detroit I took you to Lafayette Coney island at 1:33 am to have a true Detroit Coney. On your tours and travels what is the most amazing thing you got to eat?
Luis: This question has been asked several times and I will say it again. My most memorable moment from that tour was having hot dogs with everyone that night. I found it so funny when our friend Jack, from Panic Priest, almost killed me for putting ketchup on my hot dog, lol. That Detroit Coney was the best.
Joel: I’ll be honest, we had some pretty amazing BBQ at Smoke and Fire in Kansas City, but the one that still sticks out for me is La Chaparrita in Chicago. I ate a huarache, and tried some fermented pineapple juice for the first time. So delicious. Shout out to Benny Hernandez and his lovely wife for taking us there!
Ken: Your sound obviously plays homage to previous sounds (The Cure, Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine) if you could play with any band living or dead who would it be?
Luis: Part of our sound was inspired by the early 80’s albums by The Cure and Depeche Mode, of course. I would have loved to live in the decade of the dark 80’s and play with obscure bands like Asylum Party, Carmody and Samedi, just to name a few.
Joel – One of my personal Heroes and inspirations, David Bowie. Cue that song now.
Ken: For my gear head readers, your sound has a unique feel. What piece of equipment could you not have made this album without?
Luis: The gear we used is what gave us our sound aside from the hours of creating patches. Definitely the Roland JX-3P, Korg Poly 800, Roland TR-707, Roland JC 120 and the LinnDrum.
Ken: If you could download the ability to play any instrument, like in The Matrix, what would it be to enhance your sound?
Luis: I would definitely enhance my synth playing skills since it’s not my main instrument. The little I know is mostly self taught. Maybe even drums because my coordination is garbage.
Joel: If piano is the red pill, and drums are the blue pill, I’m throwing blinding powder at Morpheus and taking them both. I’m “The One”, dude, I do what I want.
Twin Tribes are currently prepping for a west coast tour. If you live in that area and love yourself at all you will witness that show.
Band: Creux Lies
Album: The Hearth
Label: Cleopatra Records
Members: Kyle Vorst, David Wright, Topher Snyder, Barry Crider, Ean Clevenger
There is so much beautiful and nostalgic to hear. What if you made The Cure Disintegration but gave it razor sharp teeth? The drums had more snap. The guitar lines had that same entrancing delay but with more motion. Ean Clevenger has an obvious Robert Smith quality to his voice, yet where Smith focused more on a tongue and cheek sass. Clevenger is bringing a piercing intensity and higher range of New Order Movement feelings of being lost. The driving bass , the rising synth phrases, those crisp bark beat snaps. It’s like hearing every album that got me through my formative years but done with the precision production of the modern age. Every song makes me want to fall in love but never find the courage to express it.
Lets talk a bit about what isn’t nostalgic, because there is plenty of fresh takes in this offering. Beautiful guitar leads full of textural slush in a shoegaze slither. This record bleeds of layered sounds so thick you want to run your fingers through them. Intricate drum beats with a symphony conductors precision control the movement of each track. Just like most albums that touch me deeply it usually comes back to a vocalist that can make me feel something. Who can take me on a journey with words and feelings and this album left me shook. Every phrase drips with tortured honey and sorrow. Sometimes as an older listener who has lived a bit you hear something that makes you feel young again. In the case of Creux Lies it is not with energy and power. It is by reminding you of how deep you used to feel things before the world tempered you. Hearkening back to The Cure again this album is full of pop hooks. Strong ones that grab the lapels and shake you. It’s hard to define when you hear something that is similar to plenty of music I am hearing, but has something extra, has IT. I’m at a loss on how to express it but I do know it when I hear it. I heard it.
There really isn’t a weak track on this album, but I’ll pick some favorites.
Portals – This is the obvious single, but it is that way for a reason. The beautiful New Order keyboard melodies are absolutely captivating. The lyrics “Did you fall in love with a killer at your door, while waiting for a lifetime to begin” pure poetry. The vocals in this track are a masterclass in sliding between the cracks in the wall of sound around you. The build on the end is a perfect tension and release. Staggering.
Virginity – This is such a gentle caress of an opening, that effectively smashes you in the face with a giant crashing wave of sound when you least expect it. The slow crawling tempo makes you sway like a leaf on the wind. It feels like the terrifying lack of control at a first love so powerful you don’t yet have a frame of reference for it. Clevenger reaches into some sky splitting notes in this one and laser burns them into your heart. Slow dance with yourself in this moment.
Aine’s Song – Tom fills, give me all these tom fills. Tiny dancing pin prick guitar lines doing a duelist routine with the bass and rhythm, “I saw your face again, I want to take you home” That feeling of being struck. We have all felt it but to blend the music and lyrics so seamlessly to express it. I love the whispered secret in between chorus. I love the world drops out breakdown. You built me up and then pulled it all away. Just so those toms could drive right back into me.
Overall this album is an emotional and powerful offering. It’s also full of energy and fun though. It shows me how the past can pave the way for something new in dark music. I was an instant fan for life and you will be too.