By Kieran Webber
Twin Guns have been providing listeners with an «engaging journey into the heart of garage-punk darkness» for the past five years. Described as a reverberating sonic tornado that sucks up and spits out elements of ‘60s punk, biker instrumentals, spaghetti-westerns, surf-rock and psychedelia.
We spoke to the band about the myth of Brooklyn, their time with The Cramps and life as a band.
1. I was reading that you once toured with The Cramps through Europe that must have been insane! Explain it to us ? What was the highlights? Any crazy stories ?
Jungle Jim: Yeah, I was in the band for about six months back in 2003. They liked my drumming when I was in a garage band based out of Denver called the Down-n-Outs, so they asked me to help them out when they parted ways with Harry Drumdini. The highlight of that tour was playing this huge outdoor festival in Spain underneath this giant harvest moon! The Stooges played after us, and getting to watch their show from the side of the stage was phenomenal!
2. Do you draw influence from The Cramps ?
J.J: Oh definitely! They played a huge part in both Andrea and I’s attraction to rock-n-roll!
Andrea: There may be some Cramps elements present in our music; just like them, we share an interest for certain obscure rock and roll and B-Movie culture, but I would like to think that we are doing our own thing after all.
3. How did the name Jungle Jim come about ?
J.J: Ha! That actually came from the lyrics to the Cramps song “Mad Daddy”!
4. As someone from the UK I can only imagine Brooklyn through how Hollywood portrays it, are the films to be believed? Explain Brooklyn to us?
Andrea: I’m sure I’ve seen lots of these movies too, and I had this idea of how cool it would be. Movies generally have a way of twisting reality and facts for their own purpose, but if one thinks of Woody Allen, Jarmusch or Scorsese, for instance, then they can approximate it well, still, in a way of mythicizing its past. When I moved to New York in the early 90’s I could recognize some of what I had loved in the movies where Brooklyn was portrayed; Brooklyn is a really big area with lots of different neighborhoods, and they tend to be slightly different from each other… It really is just a name, an umbrella for a bunch of different realities, but what really makes them unique is the people that populates them… The problem has become such that Brooklyn has been hyped to the point of becoming this sort of mecca of some kind, and lots of new residents have moved in, young families, artsy types, young creatives, jocks, and a bunch of other obnoxious people (I refuse to say hipsters actually, i think they all moved to Los Angeles), but more than being a part of it, they just moved here for how fancy it has become, and other superficial reasons. There’s a time for everything, and i think Brooklyn, like Manhattan, has been sterilized, numbed, and dumbed down… It’s been said before that to rise up and thrive, things have to sometimes touch the bottom, well here we are. Creative communities and musicians should start a riot, and burn down the corporate infrastructures that are crippling them and force them to move to terrible neighborhoods, like Bushwick. I’ve lived there, it sucks. New York is pretty much a corporate infrastructure at this point, that echoes of nostalgia, where money is key to most of its lifestyle, and still the privilege of a few. Is simply a ridiculously expensive place to live, where no one knows how to walk in public; people stumbling about in flip flops and yoga mats. A bunch of zombies with a blank stare and a smartphone in hand. You think you have found a great apartment to live? Be ready to give that up soon. Brooklyn is just a word, and new yorkers are mostly gone away. There is also a dark side, haha.
5. If I am not mistaken you recently went from a duo to a trio how has that changed your sound?
A: It changed it in a way that is more complete and versatile, and now i can grab the microphone and just sing during a show while not playing guitar if I want to, while the bass and drums keeps the song together for a few seconds… In the beginning we were a two-piece, and that lineup allows for a total different dynamic, which relies on pure energy, instinct, and allows for a minimal, essential, no-nonsense approach. But everything gets old. We wanted an orchestra, we got a bass instead… Keeping with our minimalistic approach!
“You think you have found a great apartment to live? Be ready to give that up soon. Brooklyn is just a word, and new yorkers are mostly gone away”
6. How did you all meet and what point did you all decide that you want to play music ?
J.J.: I was 13 years old when I decided that I wanted to play drums. I was just lying in bed one night listening to music and it hit me- “the drums, I wanna play the drums”, I thought. I got so worked up, that I couldn’t sleep. I ended up getting out of bed to convince my parents that I needed a drumset.
A: We all played in different bands before, but it took long years of apprenticeship with those bands to get to where we are today, and get around the chemistry that brought us together. Other mutual, talented, musicians friends.
J.J.: As far as how we all met, we basically just met on the NYC rock-n-roll scene, seeing each other at different shows, etc.
7. When was it you discovered that Garage/psych rock was the sound you was looking for?
A: I have been a fan of Garage and Psych rock since i was a kid. That sound has stayed with me until this day. Its raw, emotional, funny, and just… cool. Also, i have never been a technical sort of musician, i play by ear, so…. I can’t get too fancy, and that medium seems comfortable.
J.J: My first exposure to garage rock was seeing this band called The Element 79 at a little club in Denver, Colorado back in 1993 or so. It was just so wild and primal…I fell in love with that music right then and there!
8. What was the influence behind your latest album ‘The Last Picture Show’ ?
A: It’s a bit of a concept album, a homage to a disappearing world… maybe a bit of an imagined one. The romanticism of Rock & Roll as a genre and a lifestyle. A noir made with little budget, in a garage. There are stories of love, lust, sex, stalking, murder, betrayal, jealousy, and going to the movies. All pretty lighthearted stuff.
9. I read in a recent interview that you guys are planning a tour of Europe any news on that?
A: We are planning one in the Spring.
J.J: Yeah, we’re going over there to support our new album “The Last Picture Show” which just came out on Hound Dawg Records who are based in Germany!
10. What do you tend to write your music about? Do you specifically find an area to write about or is it more what comes into your head/ situations you have been in?
A: A little bit of both… It can be the idea for a story, which inevitably gets distilled into a few sentences, often filtered through personal experience, or inspired by observing people and their behavior. Often, is like trying to give words to a feeling, as abstract as it may be, or simply to express emotions.
11. What can we expect from Twin Guns in the future?
A: More music, and maybe something different in sound, we’ll see…. We have tons of new ideas.