Interview: Twin Haus have ideas and vision
After the success of their debut EP in 2014, Brisbane band Twin Haus have just dropped their follow-up. We chat to Dan Grima from the band to find out more:
Hi and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Something You Said. Firstly congratulations on your new EP Nothing Lavish. Would you say that this is a straight line evolution from your 2014 Waxen Myriad EP or a completely separate beast that doesn’t share much in common with its predecessor?
Hey, thanks. It’s hard to say whether Nothing Lavish is congruent alongside any previous release of ours. To me, it stands alone in its concept, musicality and direction. It’s the first piece that I feel we have really honed in on in terms of each individual band member’s ideas and visions – Waxen Myriad almost feels like four lost boys with a couple of D5s making a record; fuelled by a combination of both passion and insecurity. I mean, it’s real, but I’m not sure it’s the predecessor to the music on Nothing Lavish.
You spent the bulk of 2015 writing and recording Nothing Lavish, was this a real egalitarian process or are the writing and playing duties weighted a little more heavily towards some band members?
No, egalitarian is a really good word for it.
Is your lyrical content derived directly from personal experiences or do you tend to approach writing in a disconnected third person style?
I’m not really sure to be honest. I don’t think that has been much of a conscious decision for the most part. Writing the lyrics for The Revue (from Nothing Lavish) is the first time I tried approaching the lyric writing process strategically. They read as interplay between two perspectives; or as one, torn between two mindsets.
Your opening track Synthetic Egg is a rich and escalating tune that really exemplifies your style. How much of that atmospheric sound is fleshed out immediately when initially jamming and how much of it comes from time spent in the studio?
Synthetic Egg is nine minutes recorded because we wrote it as twelve, or thirteen. For months, it was – to us – just one phrase, an entire rotation of the chord progression in our heads. That’s all it was, there was no structure or limit, just one idea: build, patiently. We played it live many a time as an experiment. I would enter occasionally to ad lib a vocal, or repeat the only line that seemed to come to me during that period; “tip, turn, take our time”. For the most part and for a long time it was 12 or so minutes of ‘atmosphere’ in our live set, something designed to be less ‘tangible’ than the songs either side of it. After we spent so much time fleshing it out in a live setting, we were a little concerned about how it would translate on record. I think the inclusion of horns and the decision to use space between vocals help keep the listener afloat on the recording but it’s definitely a piece written for live setting. I’d really love to delve deeper into the strain that was writing Synthetic Egg. It was a process which I felt super comfortable with.
You worked with local producer Steve Kemnich on your new EP, what was it that drew you to work with Steve and what did he bring to the table that really enhanced the Twin Haus sound?
Steve is a tones man. He’s super meticulous when it comes to capturing a sound or tone accurately and that helped a lot with the ambience of the EP – we tried to remain precise with every guitar tone or pedal switch, or even drum sound, depending on what gear we had at the time to work with. This was made worthwhile only by Steve’s ability to translate exactly what we were going for on the other side of all the cables.
You have a solid tour schedule playing all around Australia with at times barely 24 hours between shows, how do you manage the balancing act of quality over quantity when touring extensively and playing as hard as you do?
Mmm, I’m not sure. I doubt we’ve experienced anything too intense when it comes to touring – I sometimes look in awe at the crazy schedules bands will have touring internationally and think ‘eh, we’ve got it pretty easy as far as touring goes’.
Do you find touring to be inspirational whereby it helps you write and create more material or are you so focused on the task at hand that writing and creating new material takes a back seat?
Yeah, I think everybody is working on something nearly all of the time at their own pace. We tend to leave sharing our ideas with each other until there’s a little more space to process them though – things can be pretty snipped living together day in, day out.
Your live shows are renowned for their intensity and energy. What acts did you catch as punters that made that you think yes, now this is how a band should perform on stage?
I can recall quite a few shows where I have walked away inspired by the energy on stage, whether it be frantic or incredibly composed. I really enjoy watching Dune Rats, watching Brett throw himself around the stage and play the bass like he does, is fucking cool. I recently saw Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra perform in Brisbane, and that was music like I’ve never seen, nor heard. Completely composed and so much reservation. By far the most phenomenal musicianship I’ve ever been fortunate enough to witness. A totally different beast altogether though
I love the concept of how you approached your track listings and that you worked with various visual artists to align an artwork with each song. Can you explain how this came about and the reasoning behind it?
Yeah, we felt like the music on this release lent itself to interpretation more than anything else we have done. We were also very tempted by the thought of collaboration across artistic mediums. We owe the entire project to the incredible artists who were keen to work with us on it – Yuli Serfaty, Adri Mammino, Sophie Hopkins and Marija Kozomora.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of catching Twin Haus, what can they expect see and hear during this tour?
Music. We don’t have too much to say other than what you choose to take from our live show. Please be our guest at a show.
Nothing Lavish is now via Bedlam Records. The band are currently on tour in Australia. For dates and to keep up with all that they’ve got going on, follow them on Facebook.
Interview by Courtney Dabb. Photo by Neal Walters.