Will Ellis chats to the Chicago garage rockers about their origins, their relationship with drugs, and living the dream
Many teenage bands, whilst bashing away at instruments in their mum’s basement, desperately dream of leaving their home town behind and getting the adoration that comes from being an international rock band. Most people would say that this is just a pipe dream, that such bands are never going to make it and that if they’re ever going to make it, it won’t be with their childhood friends. If you’re guilty of having this view or have maybe even barked it at a younger sibling, there is a band out there that provides a glimmer of hope for garage rockstars.
Twin Peaks, four 20 – 21-year-olds who met in a Chicago high school, formed a band and are now touring the world together. Starting from humble beginnings bashing out music together, guitarist Cadien Lake James and bassist Jack Dolan both recall having a big influence on one another from an early ages: “Me and Jack were both writing songs in elementary school and I remember I’ve got a broken 8-track CD player that we recorded our first record on. I can’t scroll down enough, it has a broken button but there’s a song that we recorded in 6th grade ‘Just Tonight’.
“I remember he just sang me some words and a melody in a hallway in elementary school and I started out with some chords behind it, and we recorded it at the crib. I can’t get to it now—but yeah, we’ve been showing each other songs since like fucking forever now.” Jack adds, “throughout high school I was putting stuff out under my own shit and Cadien was doing the same thing, and I know Clay was doing the same thing as well. It’s always been an individual thing at first that, y’know, comes together once we put it into the band pool.”
Such humble beginnings are a world away from a band that is now touring the world, living the teenage garage band dream. Their lives are undeniably unique, even from bands in similar positions, due to the youth of everyone involved. Whereas most people their age are at school or still living with their parents, these guys have been out seeing the world, growing up on tour, living out of suitcases and sleeping in buses. They’re the first to recognise this privileged position as Cadien is quick to point out.
“There’s definitely moments in your day where… I mean, the other day we were standing around and I think Clay was like ‘Man, most people our age…’ we don’t really live the same lives as anyone else that is our age, which is something that you don’t really realise while you’re doing it, but you have these moments where its very, like, surreal, like being out here and stuff like that. Most of our friends are in school, or not in school, so it’s interesting for sure.” Cadien is quick to point out that this does also have some unexpected consequences: “Clay was saying that he’s slept with any given one of us more times than he’s slept with any girl ever.”
Growing up in Chicago together the band has clearly had a lot of influence from the local music scene. With the band being mates with the two other local heroes from Chicago, The Smith & Westerns and The Orwells. These guys have grown up with the rock and roll lifestyle affecting their outlook on life, the psychedelic influences of their music being informed by their relationship with drugs. This relationship is born from the romanticised view of drugs presented by music.
As Jack says: “Everyone knows that The Beatles took acid, and Hendrix and stuff. Like, when I think about why I wanted to do that sort of thing I was definitely trying to get creative and stuff like that. But I think it depends on who you are—everyone can have a different experience or response to it.” Cadien adds to this, “for me there’s certainly been trips that have changed my attitude or perspective on life, and that informs the way I talk about things. Before I was even smoking much pot I was writing shit that had some trippy parts just from listening to music with that influence too.”
From meeting these guys it’s easy to see why they’ve been able to go for so long. They’re childhood friends having the time of their life touring the world together—and they don’t seem done yet. They’ve got their eyes on getting bigger and better together and you can’t help but feel a bit jealous of the life that they live together. They’re best mates hanging out together, creating music that they love. And though the road might be hard, they’ve got the right company to face it with.