Music

Interview: Twin Beasts

Melbournian outlaws Twin Beasts create the kind of throaty, debaucherous blues-rock that makes a man wanna lock up his daughters, swagger into town and get cracked on a case of moonshine. In the calm before the storm of their impending tour, vocalist Danny Eucalyptus shared some truths with us about naked models, gettin’ creepy, and what can be expected when they take to the stage.

twin beasts

This amazing illustration comes from Anna Schillings, currently based in Germany. Check out her awesome cross-media works over at her tumblr. Buy a t-shirt too!

Happy: You’ve defined your older LP, ‘Outlaws’, as a “spaghetti western rock opera”. How would you define ‘Badlove’?

Twin Beasts: Well the last record was a pretty tight concept, where each song followed one single narrative after each other, so the story of that album was all so Spaghetti Western. Badlove is a bit more loose, where we kind of just played one tune rather than one story, so it’s probably harder to define in that way. I think it’s still got some of those Spaghetti Western elements in it, but I think the production’s a lot tighter and the melodies are a bit more poppy.

Happy: Do you have a favourite song off of the album, and why?

Twin Beasts: My favourite song’s Badlove, the title track. I really like the groove of that song, and I really like the vocal melodies that counter at the end. It was a bit of a mess when we first started with it- I like the way we kind of tied it all together with production, and made it sound really sexy (laughs)

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Happy: Your sound’s drawn a lot of comparisons to artists like Tom Waits and, to a huge extent, Nick Cave. Is it on the mark to say that these artists are strong influences?

Twin Beasts: Yeah absolutely- especially with our older stuff. The newer stuff as well, but with the newer record we were listening to a lot of ELO in the studio, and Dylan and Kurt Vile – so I guess those three artists were the ones that kind of informed a bit of the newer sound on the new record- whereas with the old stuff, and the new stuff, Tom Waits and Nick Cave are always there.

Happy: Where else do you guys draw a lot of your inspiration, outside of musical influences?

Twin Beasts: For the last record a lot of it was from film – older movies that we watched. With the new one there wasn’t much outside things that we were drawing on. I mean we were listening to alot of David Lynch soundtracks while we were recording, and pulling some things from that. That dreary kind of falsetto stuff that you hear a lot of his female vocalists doing in those movies like Blue Velvet and the Twin Peaks movies, we were trying to draw stuff out of that. But other than that I can’t really think of any other mediums that we were pulling stuff out of. I mean there’s obviously… I can’t think of any books, although I do read a lot (laughs)

Happy: Yeah I was gonna say, because it’s really kind of lyrical music, I was wondering if there were any literary influences there?

Twin Beasts: Yeah, it’s just all kind of a big dishwasher of random things that we’ve read and things that we’ve borrowed from or were influenced by. I can’t pinpoint any specific author, but I guess everything that you read is a bit of an influence.

Happy: You guys definitely seem to fit into that very Australian, almost frontier or ‘badlands’ blues tradition of artists like ‘Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ and ‘The Drones’ – which to me is a really interesting sub-genre of Australian music. Do you feel as though your work is strongly influenced by a kind of ‘Australianism’?

Twin Beasts: Yeah I think so. We want it to be what we know about and where we’ve grown up- you know, ‘write about what you know’, it’s a bit more honest- and I guess we kind of know what we’re talking about if we’re singing about Australia. I don’t think any of our members have lived overseas for a long stretch of time, so it’s what we know and it’s what we write about.

Happy: Let’s talk about the album artwork for Badlove. What’s the inspiration or significance behind that- and who is that woman?

Twin Beasts: We were looking at a lot of images online, just looking at what we liked and what we though captured the mood of the songs and the mood of the album. We had a bit of an image-board going on with Tajette [O’Halloran], the photographer who took the photo, and we decided that we’d go out- we actually shot it on the side of the Calder Freeway, I think- and he did his work. (laughs) We set up the mattress and had Noelle, the model, jumping off the side of a trailer, [with Tajette] taking photos. We took a lot of photos, that wasn’t the only one – but we thought that was the one that captured the mood of the album.

Happy: How did you find that woman to do that? Just advertise ‘NAKED WOMAN JUMPING IN A FIELD FOR ALBUM ARTWORK’ or?

Twin Beasts: Nah she was just a friend of a friend.

Happy: Most of the tracks on Badlove feel as though they come from somewhere pretty personal, or are at least grounded in a particular idea. Do you guys wait for inspiration to strike before you start writing your songs, or is it a bit more of a methodical process?

Twin Beasts: Nah we tend to just sit there for ages until it’s finished (laughs). We pretty much wrote most of the album in the studio over two weeks, so it was just me and Giuls, who write the lyrics, sitting at a table for hours and hours and hours. I mean I guess we were just writing a whole bunch of lyrics and finding one kind of direction and trying to weed something out of that. It can be pretty painful and tedious and frustrating, but we got there in the end, and I’m happy with it.

Happy: Who has the biggest hand in writing the lyrics?

Twin Beasts: Probably Giuliano and I are about fifty-fifty with the lyrics. In the past I always wrote my lyrics and Giuls wrote his lyrics, but with this album it was a bit more collaborative, a bit more fifty-fifty – more of an ‘anything goes’ kind of experience I suppose, like he wrote some of my lyrics and I wrote some of his lyrics. I suppose ‘cause we lived together the whole time we were just trying to bounce ideas off each other.

Happy: On this album a lot of the lyrics and seem to lean toward these kind of creepy, perverse tendencies. Was it a conscious songwriting decision to indulge in this type of dark lyrical content?

Twin Beasts: I don’t think so, I think we’re just naturally like that.

Happy: Just naturally creeps?

Twin Beasts: (laughs) Yeah it just naturally goes there. We just start writing. It maybe just, I don’t know, has something to do with our sense of humour.

Happy: How does the raw passion and energy of the album translate to the stage?

Twin Beasts: It’s pretty full on. We’re not a band to hold anything back when we perform live: it’s a bit of a raucous, sweaty affair most of the time. It depends on the show and the audience we’re playing to and where we’re playing. Our pub shows tend to be pretty outrageous and full on.

Happy: So we can expect big things from the upcoming tour then?

Twin Beasts: Absolutely.

Happy: You’ve got some pretty gravelly, hardcore vocals- how do you ensure that you get that spot on in the live setting? I mean I’ve heard different methods of different vocalists before they go on stage- do you have any kind of ritual or anything like that?

Twin Beasts: I actually don’t. I can pull it out and my voice tends to hold- I think I might just be a bit lucky in that way. A lot of other singers tend to do vocal warm ups and, I don’t know, mine just comes out whenever I feel like it (laughs)

Happy: Some possibly lesser-known bands that you’d recommend we check out?

Twin Beasts: Fraser A. Gorman & Big Harvest – they’re a Melbourne band who we really enjoy. Mightiest Of Guns are a band that are opening up our launch in Melbourne who we really like. Hank Haint and the Brothers Welsh – he’s playing at the gig launch. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, he’s British, he’s been living with me for the past year or two and played a lot of shows that I’ve played. He is a one-man band but he’s branched out and found a couple of band members, and they’re gonna start playing as a three-piece.

Finally, what makes you happy?

Oh god, I don’t know… Indian food? That makes me happy.

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