Currently on tour with Augustana, Americana-folk group Twin Forks will open for the band tonight at The Mod Club in Toronto! Since we last sat down with the talented band in April of last year, Twin Forks opened for American Idol winner Phillip Phillips and released their debut self-titled record. To see what else they’ve been up to, we recently gave Chris Carrabba a call to discuss “the nod”, recording the new album, doing what he loves, learning from other bands, and keeping the quarters. Read the entire interview below:
AMBY: When we first spoke, the band had two thousand Facebook likes, nothing officially released, and we were actually one of your first-ever interviews. Now, a year later, you have a full-length record out and close to 25 thousand Facebook likes. So I wanted to start off by saying congrats on everything!
Twin Forks: We’re almost somebody now [laughs].
AMBY: I’ve been listening to the debut a lot lately and really love the liveliness to it. When it came to recording Twin Forks, what was the songwriting process like?
Twin Forks: The process of it is generally I would sit and write all day and then every now and again the guys would come through and kind of give me the nod. They would give me “the nod”. Sometimes the nod comes at a part where I think it stinks and then realize that’s the whole song and I toss the rest away. It’s a real casual approach. Literally, the guys come in and make sure I realize the parts that I think stink isn’t the actual whole song.
AMBY and Twin Forks: [laughs]
Twin Forks: We record just a guitar and vocal and we drive around just enough to listen to it two or three times, and we maybe have a drink or meal, and then we go and play. I think one of the things that’s captured on the record – and we maybe talked about this a little bit when we talked last time – is that if they did something I thought was exciting or they thought I did something exciting, you’d hear cheering or a whistle and that’s all over the songs on the record. I think there’s a real liveliness to the album that was captured in the process. Later we go back and see if we got it right or not, and generally if we got it wrong, we don’t take another crack at it. If you’re trying to preserve what happens instinctually, but you have to know it by playing four or five times, then it goes away. Sometimes a song can become better, but that’s not what we were actually chasing; we were chasing the sound of a band that was singularly excited about the moment they were in.
AMBY: The music of Twin Forks is very Americana and folk-inspired. Seeing that Suzie’s The Narrative, Ben’s Bad Books, and the earlier Dashboard material all have elements of acoustic guitar or folk nuances, did this seem like the obvious direction to take the new project?
Twin Forks: To everyone but us, yes.
AMBY: [laughs] Why’s that?
Twin Forks: Jon, who wasn’t in any of those bands, is the producer and the bass player of the band. To be the producer in a band full of people who produce records is a tall order, you know? He challenged me when we were playing music one day… When I play guitar, I fall into this pattern of playing Fleetwood Mac or older Woody Guthrie songs; lots of songs that are so beautiful that you miss the radicalism in the songs. That’s a side point. But he said to me, “are you afraid to do what you love?” I thought I had proven for ten years at that point with Dashboard Confessional that I was doing this because I loved it. But I was not doing what I loved; I was afraid to do what I loved because at one point in my life, I didn’t think I was good enough to write and excel in the style of music that I am now. When he made that challenge, I went down that road to discover if I could or couldn’t and I didn’t realize how badly I wanted it. I think that’s why it sounds vibrant. That’s something I remember from Dashboard – that sense of discovery. It’s incredible.
AMBY: You mention how the band has a certain vibrancy that you can feel throughout the record and that’s something I really took away while listening to Twin Forks on disc and live.I wanted to ask a few things about your live shows. You recently finished a Canadian Tour opening for Phillip Phillips, and are currently on the road with Augustana. How’s the new tour treating you all?
Twin Forks: This Augustana tour is great. Going out with Phillip was a great experience. We found the Baranoski sisters, Kelsie and Kimmy, and it was a great kind of dot to put on the board – we could get here if we work excessively hard and get a little bit lucky. Now we’re on tour with Augustana in the clubs that we’re kind of used to playing, and with a group that I would consider to be incredibly savvy and inspiring. So, now we’re on the other side of it; they’re just about to break and we’re going to watch it. They broke before but they will again now with this new record. In both of those cases, we don’t sound like the bands we’re out with. There’s occasions where you learn more by not sounding like the band you’re touring with or opening for; you can maybe hear something and then when you try it, it will sound completely different because you just inherently don’t sound the same. Both of these tours have been great and we’ve made great friends.
AMBY: Has there been a time where you’ve been on tour with a band and learned something from them?
Twin Forks: Yea. I remember Face to Face took me out when it was just me and an acoustic guitar and two hardcore bands opening. Very heavy bands, hardcore bands, and then me with an acoustic guitar. I would watch Trever [Face to Face] never hold his voice back every night and I took that as a lesson; there’s only tonight’s show. I’ve always tried to push my voice as far as I possibly can which is why I sound a little more like Johnny Cash in the morning than I do in the daytime.
Twin Forks: The other thing he told me was “keep the quarters”. I had a lot of quartets thrown at me just for being the guy stupid enough for standing on the stage with hardcore bands…
AMBY: With just an acoustic guitar.
Twin Forks: Yep. He said “keep the quarters, at the very least you’ll pay for parking today”.
AMBY: When performing live, the band always seems to have such a genuinely fun time. Before hitting the stage, do you have any pre-show rituals to get into this upbeat and joyous vibe?
Twin Forks: We do. There’s a lot of goofiness that goes on with this band. First of all, I’d say we’re really serious about music and would spend hours and hours warming up our voices and instruments. That’s one pre-show process that we love. Mostly what we do is just sit backstage and make a lot of jokes and take the piss out of the pressure, you know what I mean? The other thing we do before and after the show is that we’re at the merch table. We’re actually in the crowd, so we’re already at the show. One specific thing that we say, and I don’t know why we started saying this, but we love each other, we love what we do, and we love that we get to do it. We started saying Love Is Real [laughs].
AMBY: I’ve noticed that throughout your social media posts.
Twin Forks: We’ve posted it a few times. I don’t know, Jon takes care of those type of things. Just when I think I have a private life, Jonathan will post everything for the world on the internet.
AMBY: [laughs] There’s no escaping it.
Twin Forks: It’s a powerful statement and I don’t know why. It still resonates if you’ve had the worst day or if twenty people showed up to a show… It may at first feel like a disappointment, but we realize that we get to play for these twenty people.
AMBY: That’s a great mindset to have. Four months back the band released a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Mean” on SoundCloud.
Twin Forks: We did.
AMBY: Can we expect any other covers in the near future?
Twin Forks: Yea. That one kind of broke the internet that day. I think it wasn’t the song that people expected from us. Covers are within every set we do and I don’t know if it will be Mean, an Oasis cover, Fleetwood Mac, Kesha, or whatever. It’s exciting for the band because we never know what’s coming next; ignore the set list and play whichever song feels right.
AMBY: For the last question of the interview, what’s the best part of being in Twin Forks?
Twin Forks: Friendship.
Thank you Twin Forks, for giving us your answers!
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Alicia Atout |