POZ Interview: Twin Falls
There has been a ton of interest surrounding Twin Falls lately, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the band features members of Dashboard Confessional, Bad Books, and The Narrative. PropertyOfZack was interested in the band too, which is why we were happy to have Senior Writer Jesse Richman do an incredible interview with the band down at SXSW last week. The interview features information on how Twin Falls came together, what the band means for other projects, an album, tour, and so much more. Check it all out below!
Could you state your names and roles in Twin Falls?
Ben: I am Benjamin Homola and I play the drums.
Jonathan: I’m Jonathan Clark and I play the bass.
Suzie: Suzie Zeldin. I sing.
Chris: Chris Carrabba. Vocals and guitar. Suzie plays mandolin, too.
I saw your first real performance at SXSW [at Central Presbyterian Church] yesterday. Chris, you played some songs at shows in the past few months, but was this the first performance?
Ben: Yes. It was the first performance billed as Twin Falls.
POZ: How did it feel being up there?
Chris: I think that the church we were in made us feel a little reserved, but it felt great to be up there. It felt really great.
All of you come from different bands. Is it strange being on stage with a different group of people than who you’re comfortable with? Is there an adjustment period?
Chris: This is the most comfortable I’ve ever been on stage with anybody.
Jonathan: It’s extremely comfortable.
Chris: We’ve essentially been living together for two years making this record, just deciding what the record is going to be. We didn’t know we were even going to be a band when we decided to start messing around for fun. it started out as a labor of love. We were just pals. We even said at one point that we wouldn’t be a band.
POZ: What changed?
Chris: It was just evident that this was a band.
POZ: Was there a certain moment?
Chris: I think I know what it was. I had a handful of songs, and I was looking for a post-Dashboard thing. I thought what I wanted to do was make delicate finger-picking kind of songs, which is something I like very much. Ben and Jonathan are both producers and were helping me with recording these songs.The more I examined what was important to me about music I began to have a revelation that something that’s great about Dashboard is that the audience is in a state of celebration. Which may be antithetical to what people who don’t know much about what Dashboard think it is. It’s a little bit euphoric. But I’ve always felt like I’m just a focal point, and maybe that I’m not quite part of the party. That was something I realized as I was doing this finger-picking. I was getting further away. I want to stomp my foot, I want to be a part of this party, I want the party to be on stage, go outward, and come right back at us. That was a big shift in the tide.
One of the tracks you played at the first show was a cover of Cory Branan’s “Tall Green Grass,” which you also released on your cover LP.
Chris: We did some covers for Covered In The Flood. I’ve had Cory with me over the course of the last three years as my main opener. I’m very inspired by him. I love that song so I did that song. While we were doing that finger-picking thing, at some point, I said we should make another cover record that was closer to where I want to go because I don’t know how to get there. That’s when things started to take shape. That’s when I started to understand what we were chasing.
Was Covered In The Flood the genesis of you seeing this new direction?
Chris: That allowed me to realize that I should be able to make music like that too. I listened to that as much as I did punk rock.
POZ: Was that big in your house growing up?
Chris: No, it was just kind of something I stumbled on in my pre-teen years. I think it started with Willie Nelson stuff. My grandmother was super into Frank Sinatra, and then I heard Willie Nelson, songs that he wrong for Frank Sinatra. I dove into that. My stepbrother knew a lot about country music, so I dug into it that way. I never saw too much distinction between the outlaw country and punk rock. It’s cut from the same cloth, the same dirty, ragged cloth.
Ben: A stained whiskey cloth.
Chris: Even some Dashboard songs have it tempered into what I did. The covers LP was me saying, “How can I do this in such a way that isn’t disingenuous.” They’re my influences and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with embracing them, but I didn’t want it to be pure imitation.
The release of the solo LP was the first time you put aside Dashboard to put something out under your own name. Was that a conscious break where Dashboard is emo music and Chris Carrabba is something else?
Chris: Dashboard has a lot of trappings. There is an expectation from the listener that makes it difficult to write without an expectation of an outcome. I feel like it’s demanded now, at this point. It wasn’t always like that, there’s a lot of variation between records, but I felt that after six records it had to be a certain kind of thing. That felt void of magic to me.
POZ: Do you see yourself coming back to it in the future?
Chris: Absolutely. I think if it feels magical to me that I’ll do it. If it doesn’t, then I can’t do it. I think what makes people connect with my music is the same thing that would make people know instantly if I was bullshitting.
Suzie, you sang on the covers album, right? How did everyone get pulled into all of this.
Suzie: We were introduced via a friend Mike Dubin. Do you know Mike?
POZ: I know Mike.
Chris: Everybody knows Mike. He’s the most famous not-famous man.
Suzie: Mike was a champion to The Narrative. He introduced us to as many people as possible, and Chris was one of those people. Chris heard our song “Don’t Want To Fall” and he got in touch with with me. We got on the phone and he asked to sing on some stuff.
POZ: How did you guys get pulled into this world as well?
Ben: I’ve toured with Chris multiple times both working and playing in bands. I ran into him at an LA Bad Books show, he told me that he had some stuff that he wanted me to figure out and play on. I went over there, luckily it’s close to where I live, and that’s the beginning of it.
Jonathan: I played a gig with a friend and the drummer sitting in for the band was Steve from Further [Seems Forever]. We made that relationship and I kept seeing Steve and he introduced me to Chris.
Chris: Steve said that I’d really connect with Jonathan and that he was very talented. It was really easy.
Ben: It fell into place.
Chris: Ben came and helped me record a few songs. Then he had a Bad Books or Brand New tour. Then Jonathan came and helped me record a couple more songs. Then it was the three of us together and we realized we were a good team. There was a long time of figuring out what we were doing. I write a lot of songs for other people, so they were helping with that as well, as players and producers. And I like to demo all the time too, and they were helpful. They were up for whatever I kind of wanted to jump into. Our friendship grew naturally over the time. We don’t spend time apart at this point. We work and live together.
Jonathan: It’ll be two years in the summer.
Chris: We had a couple other women singing on some different stuff, including Madi Diaz who’s a great friend of mine and a talented musician. And she sang on some stuff and it sounded great, but there were scheduling issues. Suzie was coming down to a wedding by us so we asked her to come to the studio and it was instantaneous. We were like, “Oh! We’re a band now!” There was no questioning it. Then we had to figure out how to go about committing on every level to this thing, when we have so many other projects. We all decided that maybe this isn’t the side-project.
Did the rest of the band contribute to the writing?
Chris: Everyone contributed to everything. I think I wrote all the songs as we were figuring out what we were going to be. As producers, Ben and Jonathan had huge influence before I even knew it would be a band. Suzie came in and added her stuff too, which raised things to a whole other level. I guess I wrote the songs, but they don’t feel like they’re just mine.
Suzie: A lot of stuff gets added. We were in an acoustic session yesterday and we were coming together with things on the spot. We’re still evolving.
Chris: I don’t expect the next batch of songs will just be me writing. I was the only facilitator of songwriting at that time, but now, here we are, we’re a band.
POZ: So this will be more than a one album project?
Chris: This isn’t a temporary band. I’m as committed to this band — as excited about this band — as I’ve ever been about anything I’ve ever done.
POZ: Do you think it will maintain the particular songwriting style that we’re hearing now?
Chris: Time will tell, I guess.
Jonathan: A lot of it too is our influences. An audience is demanding, like Chris said — “I really like this Townes Van Zant song, but its going to go over like crickets if people don’t know it.” So it’s cool that we’ve been able to reach back into stuff we’ve grown up with, and really love, and haven’t had an avenue for. Chris will come in with a song and then Ben will start playing and everyone starts spurring each other along. There’s something really special about that. We’ve all been in bands and have helped other people, so it’s really cool to not feel like a hired gun. It feels like a band. It really feels like a band.
Ben: Sometimes, you don’t know whats going to happen when you get into a room to create music with people. When we started playing it was comfortable. That doesn’t happen very often, so it’s a nice feeling. You feel cozy.
Chris: It’s comfortable in terms of spirit and communication in the room, but it’s almost uncomfortable that the ideas are coming so fast that you can barely grasp them. That’s when you know you’re into something exciting. Ben is a phenomenal drummer, but he’s the kind of drummer who’s so skilled that he can do anything flashy to blow someone away. I’m constantly inspired that he will only do that in the slightest exact moment, and then the song explodes for a second. It’s incredible.
Suzie: This is a vey positive group of people too, which is unique.
Chris: We’re in a position as adults that we can choose whatever band members we want to live with. I’ve been so fortunate with Further and Dashboard to be in bands with friends. I wanted to find people that were first and foremost wonderful people, even to the point that, I will tell you, Suzie is a phenomenal mandolin player and is really owning that instrument. When she came to sing backups, I asked her if she could play the mandolin and she said, “No, but I’ll take lessons.” That was five or six months ago. Now she shreds. Everyone is committed to whatever it takes. It feels so good that we want to figure out ways to do it better ourselves. Jonathan and I are playing banjo on this stuff, and we don’t play banjo. This is how it’s tuned? This is how it’s picked? Lets do that.
Suzie, how’s it feel to not be trapped behind a keyboard onstage?
Suzie: It’s really fun, actually. It’s liberating.
Chris: She plays the keyboard too.
Suzie: With The Narrative, I’m usually standing behind keyboards. When we played our secret set at a Dashboard show in January there were still a few places where I played piano and I’ll still do that. I love playing piano, and I love writing parts on the piano, I’m having fun on the mandolin now too. I like dancing around!
You all have very different sounding bands. They’re all part of “the scene,” or that Warped Tour world. That world is notoriously hard to escape from and hard to get people to get attention outside of it. Is that a concern? The sets down here were billed as Twin Falls featuring Chris Carrabba.
Chris: I’ve never played Warped Tour.
Ben: I never have either.
Suzie: The Narrative played Warped Tour for a month and we were the smallest band on it. We were an outlier.
POZ: [Laughs] Forget the Warped Tour part, there’s still a “scene” world and, especially if people are coming from the indie world, there’s sort of an automatic rejection of anything coming out of there, regardless of what it actually sounds like.
Ben: I don’t worry about it with this group. At this point, it’s like I’m playing music and getting a chance to. If you’re going to enjoy it, you will. UI I try not to think about it. You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself.
Suzie: The scene is there, and I love that whole community and they’re supportive of my band. I think that people are paying attention outside. The scene is vocal, especially on the internet where they really can be, but I know that there’s more to it than that. YouTube is a great place now where people outside of “the scene” can get into these related videos with other bands. There are all these bands that have a unique sound. I think it’s bigger now.
Chris: We don’t have a destination in mind.
Kenny Vasoli [of The Starting Line] has a project called Vacationer. For the first six months or so he didn’t tell anyone that he was part of the band. He wasn’t billing his name as part of it. They were just playing shows as a random band. It was clear he didn’t want to put his name on it.
Chris: I think SXSW billed it as “with Chris Carrabba.” I wouldn’t want to be evasive about being in this band though. I”m proud of this band. I want people who like my music to know that I’m in it. If we get lucky and we broaden our audience to people who didn’t like Dashboard or Further…if we get lucky, that would be wonderful. Everybody is invited, you know?
Suzie: Come to the party.
Is there any album recorded?
Chris: There’s an album recorded. There is a very loose timeline about a release for it. We’ll be touring before we release it.
POZ: Is that tour booked?
Chris: It’s being booked. There’s no rush to make any decisions about record labels at this point. We’ve all been around the block. We want to make a careful decision.
POZ: Do you definitely want to be on a label? Are you thinking about self-releasing?
Chris: Not definitely, I don’t definitely want to be on a label, but I don’t know if I want to run a label either. I’ve done that before, and that’s a full-time job, just like being in a band. We released a song “Scraping Up The Pieces” online, and then when I was in Brazil without everyone I was playing that song in the Dashboard set. I realized that if I added four bars of a G-chord before the third verse that it created a certain anticipation. I wouldn’t have discovered that if I didn’t play it live. There are other things that we’ll discover about the songs when we start playing them live.
POZ: So there’s a chance more tweaks will be made in the studio?
Ben: We do everyday.
Chris: We’ll be back Monday.
POZ: Is there a timeframe?
Chris: Summer time should be okay.
Do you want to headline tours?
Chris: I think we should do very small clubs. There’s no reason to skip steps.
Jonathan: We’re enjoying sitting around in a van, sitting on each other’s lap, it’s a good time! It feels like a band.
Chris: We’re able to skip steps due to past bands, but I don’t think that would make us a better live band. If I have my say, I’d like to play 200 to 300 cap clubs for a while. Which compared to Dashboard, is very small. I think that’s necessary and exciting option.
Generally the worst interview question ever, but you are brand new. Where did Twin Falls, the name, come from?
Chris: It was a sign I saw a lot during years and years of touring. There’s always a “Twin Falls.” It sounded intense and adventurous and romantic. And then there was this idea of, we’re all coming from different places, but we’re all kind of the same. We all did kind of fall into this together. It was always in the back of my head. We collected the band, and then used this name. We all came from a different place pouring into the same pool.
What are the statuses of your other bands?
Chris: Further will tour as much as the other guys in Further can tour. It’s easy for me to say yes because I have a different kind of career than those guys. Dashboard, everyone is doing their own thing. I think they’re all waiting for me to find a way back into how I want to write Dashboard songs. Mike’s playing in the Avett Brothers now, Johnny just finished his tour for his solo record, Scott just finished the Promise Ring reunion tour. I very much want to play with those guys again, but I don’t think it’d do anyone any good to rush into it just so we could be together, even though I want to be together so badly.
POZ: Might there be another Further album in the cards?
Chris: It takes us a really long time to write and record. That record took us two years because it takes that long when you’re recording for three hours on Thursday nights. I have every expectation that we’ll make another record — already we have bits and ideas and stuff. Further is my band, Dashboard is my band, and Twin Falls is my priority.
Suzie: Our Narrative record is recorded. It’s not mixed or mastered yet. The Narrative has released three albums and a vinyl on our own, over the last five years. We’re not interested on rushing it. We want a team to help us for this. The Narrative stuff has been moving slow. These guys have things going on too. There will be plenty of time for both of these things to coexist. I’m so excited about The Narrative record.
Chris: With all our different projects, we’re all collectively friends too, I think we’re eager to tour together with all these bands. There’s no reason The Narrative couldn’t open or we couldn’t open for Bad Books, or whatever.
POZ: Bad Books are taking a break for other albums, right?
Ben: We have a few more shows left here and there right now. It’ll die down because Kevin and Manchester are busy. We’re definitely doing another album though. Everyone is really excited about it and I’m also doing Shone, too. I’m doing two more Shone shows. Brian is very last minute about things, so I don’t know about that. For lack of a better word, it’s just an odd project, the way it is and how it’s pulled together, but it’s fun. I love playing with the Bad Books guys and Brian. This is definitely going to take more priority though.
POZ: Twin Falls appeared out of nowhere. With Shone, there was a huge viral campaign.
Ben: It’s Andrew and Brian’s project. I play live with the band, I had nothing to do with the campaign. I didn’t know half the stuff Brian was doing [Laughs]. There may still be boxes and thumb-drives underneath trees. He went for it, then I found out through your site. I loved it. It was insane. We all know each other, and it’s nice. I hope we can all play shows together. That’s what’s so awesome about this. Knowing people and playing music together is the coolest thing ever.
Is there anything else you want people to know about Twin Falls?
Suzie: Twin Falls can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as TwinFallsMusic. Tour dates ASAP, too.
by Jesse Richman
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