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Set Into The Realm of Twin XL

Set Into The Realm of Twin XL

Photo Credit: Jordan Kelsey Knight

Set Into The Realm of Twin XL

Twin XL is an alternative indie rock band featuring ex-members of The Summer Set and The Ready Set. And these guy are certainly Set to make a big name for themselves in an epic way – especially if their recent singles Lonely and Slow Heart are indicative of greater glories ahead.  Just prior to the pandemic, Twin XL toured with the likes of Fitz and The Tantrums, and the band is more than ready to make even more memories in the post Covid days ahead.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed Twin XL front man Cameron Walker-Wright to discuss the formation of Twin XL, working with Little Hurt and Rad Horror on the song Lonely, the excitement he feels when helping other artists realize their own visions, and other topics of intrigue.  Read on as we jump into the sonic realm of Twin XL

How did Twin XL come about and what made you decide to finally drop the Weatherstar name and brand.
Twin XL came out because me and John and Stephen have been friends forever. Obviously, I used to play for The Ready Set. They played for The Summer Set. There was a lot of crossover there. We would run into each other on the road a bunch. We have always been friends and I think there’s that thing where you run into someone a lot of times and he also does music and you’re like, “Hey we should get together and write a song some time“. Then you kind of say that to each other for like two years. Maybe sometimes it never happens. But luckily for us it cam together. And the first song we wrote together was actually good which ended up being our first single. And I think as soon as we did that we’re like, “Okay, we all love this. Let’s do another day.” And it just kind of happened organically. The EP came together over the course of about a year. And I don’t think there was actually any intention of starting a full-time band together. It was like, “Okay, maybe these are songs that another artist cuts down the line, or maybe this we put these out as a side project thing.” But it just kind of worked out and it happened really quickly. We put the EP out and it got some buzz online and next thing you know, we’re in a van together. Very organic.

And as far as the Weatherstar name, I stopped doing that so long ago, To me that was like I wasn’t in high school but it felt that way. It was like the first thing I ever did. And I think it was me learning how to do all that stuff, but I’m very proud of it. There’s even a couple fans online that are like, “Hey, I remember you from Weatherstar!” Man, that’s crazy. I was like, “That was over a decade ago!” It’s super humbling and I think there’s a lot of me from that era in everything I do now.

And the only Weatherstar question I’m going to ask, because I have a bunch of Twin XL questions, but did Blink-182 ever hear your cover of their Christmas song or comment on it?
I don’t think so. I wish they did. Honestly, they are one of my favorite bands ever. I like that you heard it. And it was fun to make.  It was like a Christmas EP. We covered a bunch of Christmas songs, mostly like acoustic and stripped down, but  we recorded it with the singer of Man Overboard too, which was super fun.

Let’s talk about the Twin XL and some of the new songs. Are you the sound that was just released called Lonely. Tell me about the inspiration behind that one.
That song came together in a really cool way. I wrote the hook by myself, sort of in the beginning of the first big lockdown. I wrote the hook to it and I think it was just kind of me sitting on my computer, just trying to let my mind wander. A lot of times I write a song and I’m trying to tell a story or I’m trying to tell a story from someone else’s perspective, or a perspective I had a long time ago. And in this moment I was like, “I’m just going to free write, stream of consciousness. What am I feeling right now?” And I think there was something cool about it but I couldn’t really finish it myself for some reason. And then flash forward a couple months later, I sent it over to Colin Dieden, who is in Little Hurt, and Dylan Jackson from Rad Horror, and I was like, “Yo, you guys want to get together and try to finish this song with me? That would be awesome.” And I think it turned out to be a really cool thing because to me, it’s sort of like there’s this centerpiece, that is the hook and then everyone’s kind of telling their stories of what they’ve been feeling the last year. That kind of circles around it.

Then you have a song I believe coming out called Slow Heart. Why don’t you tell me a little about that one?
That one actually, we wrote around the same time that we finished up Lonely and we wrote that with Dylan and Colin as well. And it was just kind of a coincidence that they came out back-to-back. I think for us right now, a big thing has been trying to get a little bit deeper under the surface lyrically and try to change them up a little bit and dig a little bit deeper into what we’re doing now that we’ve been a band, we’ve been on tour and it’s not just this studio project. I think now we’re at a point where we know exactly who we are and what we want to be. I think Slow Heart definitely kind of shows that.

What is it been like to write and release new music in the middle of a pandemic and all the social unrest in the world?
Cameron: It’s definitely been a learning experience in some ways. I think obviously a lot of stuff is done remote now. Most of the stuff that I’m doing is remote, it’s like a lot of me connecting with people on Zoom or FaceTime or whatever and starting stuff that way. And then next thing we’re file sharing and I’m sending drums to someone, or they’re sending guitars to me and kind of just building songs out. Kind of like how the Postal Service made their album. I think there’s pros and cons to it. I think sometimes it takes a little longer to get to the right place, but I think in some ways everyone being alone at their own studios or their own workspaces, kind of allows for this different type of experimental ideas. I don’t know if that’s a word, but it kind of lets everyone sit with their own ideas. And then for me, if I have an idea I want to present to John or Stephen. I’m going to sit with it and be really make sure that this is the realized version of my idea versus when I’m in a room, I’m just kind of like whatever at the top of my head is and I’m just kind of saying it. I think there’s some value in everyone thinking a little bit more about what they want to bring to the table and flushing it out beforehand.

Prior to the pandemic, I think you toured with Fitz and The Tantrums. What was that experience like and were you able to finish the tour before everything went on lockdown?
It was an incredible experience. They were one of the nicest bands I’ve ever toured with in my life.  They were so cool. They let us use some of their lighting production, which was crazy. That’s a pretty rare thing. Especially being an opener, we were in a van. It’s like we can’t afford to do a lot of that stuff and they were super generous to us. They treated us so well. And I’m a huge fan of them. It’s always fun for me to go on tour with a band when I’m excited to watch their set, or part of their set every single night which I did.

It was weird because I think when we started the tour, no one even had the slightest notion that we would be in a worldwide pandemic by the end of it. We’re all just living our best life ever. And then we start reading this news. And I remember it was like the only thing – once the news started circulating on the internet, I remember our merch guy was like, “Hey, there’s this pandemic coming.” And I remember him saying that and I was like, “What are you talking about, dude?” And then it was real – and then all of a sudden it was the only thing we would talk about in the van on the way to shows. And thankfully, the tour was only cut short by two shows. The last two shows got canceled, although obviously if we had known better, I think we would have canceled it before that.

And then it was weird because the last show that they decided was going to be cancelled, they had actually set up the whole stage, the Fitz stage which is like a bunch of risers and all this lighting and stuff. And then we all got to the venue and they set up the stage and then we are all called in and told that we can’t do the show tonight.  And we’re like, “You know what, the stage is all set up. Let’s take a tour photo!”  It’s on my Instagram. There’s a tour photo of everyone on the tour. And it’s funny because that’s the only tour photo I’ve ever been in where that show that it was taken at didn’t actually happen. It was a surreal thing. But you know, luckily now we’re all doing all right and making our way through it. And it’s slowly seeming like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, which is awesome.

Photo Credit: Jordan Knight

Of course, Twin XL features two brothers from The Summer Set. What is the best and maybe not so best part about having two brothers in the same band?
(Laughs) It’s mostly awesome. They really complement each other in the best ways. In some many different ways, they’re really good at knowing what each other is great at.  Right down from when we’re in the studio, Stephen’s really into the engineering and producing side of things. John does a lot of that as well. And we all kind of wear several hats. But usually it’s Stephen working on a track, while me and John are working on lyrics and melodies and coming up with guitar parts and things like that. And then when we’re on tour, Stephen is always handling all the playback – audio production stuff. He’s always one-on-one with our front-of-house guy and John’s just so visually a huge part of our set. I think all of the different production elements visually has been a lot of of John coming up with really rad stuff, as well as our videos. For me, it’s kind of cool to be in the middle. And if there’s something like, “Oh, I have this idea for this mix. I think it should be this way.” I’m going to go talk to Stephen. But then if I’m like, “Oh, I think that I have this crazy music video idea. What do you think about it?” I’m going to go talk to John. They do complement each other in that way really well. They kind of just make one awesome superhuman together.

Are you still working with Jordan of The Ready Set or Nekokat in any capacity at all?
Jordan and I work on so much music together. We worked on songs for Dreamers, The Mowgli’s, Little Hurt, lots of alternative bands, and stuff like that, we’re co-writing and co-producing.  It’s weird if I don’t work with him three days a week. We’re always working on music together. We’re always doing stuff together. I think Nekokat is definitely on hiatus at the moment, just because everyone’s so busy. And that was the case before now, especially Jess is a such a phenomenal drummer and she’s been playing with Tessa Violet and playing for crazy awesome artists. Jordan has been really dialing in on production stuff. He’s got Onlychild going. And then obviously, I have Twin XL going. It kind of felt like there just weren’t enough hours in the day to keep doing it. But we talk – Jordan and I have at least talked about doing it at some point. I think it would be really cool.  I know there’s still people out there that love those EPs and albums and I’d love to do it at some point”. But I think it wouldn’t feel right to do it unless everyone was able to to commit to at least giving a good chunk of time to it for at least one release.

You’ve also participated on a song with American Teeth called Barred Out. Tell me how that became about?
Oh, he’s the best. He is one of my best friends in the world. I worked on other American Teeth stuff. I don’t think there’s any of it that came out yet. But we’ve been working on American Teeth stuff for a while. It’s kind of just like he’s just part of the family and we’re all kind of constant working on each other’s stuff, which is super rad.

Barred Out came together in a very organic way as well as Lonely. I was in the studio with him and Colin Brittain who produces, I think, all of his stuff or most of it. And we were writing the song – and the way my vocal ended up on, it’s pretty funny because I had to tip out a little early, but I had the vocals locked in for the pre-chorus. Instead of me teaching the idea of it to Elijah, I was like, “You know what, let me just put it in real quick and then you guys can have it, and you can re-sing it” because I had to leave.” But it was funny because then he hit me up. He was like, “Dude, it feels so right with your vocal on it. Do you just want to feature on the song?” And I was like, “Hell, yeah!” That kind of scratch vocal of me just being there that day is what ended up coming out on the record. And it just was like, “Why change it if it already feels good?

Are you currently involved in any other bands or projects that we haven’t talked about?
Officially, no. I’m always kind of doing stuff. I love being involved in other people’s projects, especially like Little Hurt. I think I did almost half of his EP that he put out. And as much as I love doing Twin XL and being in a band, I get just as much pleasure out of trying to help someone else realize their vision. But officially no. I think for me right now, it’s pretty much Twin XL.

And what do you hope 2021 brings for you, for twin XL and just for the music community in general?
I really hope that we find a way to get back to a place where we can play live shows safely. I think that the whole industry has taken such a hit from not having live shows. And it’s funny because I think that it also has given people a lot of perspective on how valuable that human connection in person still is. Which to me at some point almost felt forgotten because of how important is to use the internet to drive your project, but that in-person energy, that happens when you’re on stage with a room full of people singing your words. There’s no replacement for that. I really hope we can get back to that soon.

Twin XL is Cameron Walker-Wright (vocals), John Gomez (guitar), Stephen Gomez (bass), and Brennan Benko (drums).

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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