INTERVIEW: Twin XL on their first tour and their experience so far as a band!
The gentleman in Twin XL are all veteran musicians, be it the Gomez brothers being part of the long time Arizona group The Summer Set to front man Cameron Walker doing both solo work and playing with The Ready Set and Nekokat. But the focus now is the band that came together purely by accident. As a trio of songwriters, after writing a few songs together, John approached the two other guys with the idea of making Twin XL a real band. And the story just flows from there.
I caught up with the guys just after they played their fourteenth show and their enthusiasm for what Twin XL has become was clear. The guys exchanged tons of laughs and smiles as they talked me through how the band came to be. The crazy journey of all the videos they’ve done to what songs they think are going over best live. Find our chat below and keep your eyes peeled for more from this talented trio. Just days after I sat down with the band, they made the announcement that they’ve signed with Sony RED, which is home to many artists breaking out right now, like some little band called Lovelytheband. So clearly this is the only beginning for a group of musicians that have worked incredibly hard to be at this point!
From looking at it, I know this is Twin XL’s first tour but obviously the two of you being brothers (John and Stephen Gomez) and you Cam, I’m sure you’ve all known each other from before with your previous acts. These shows so far, how has it been going so far for Twin XL?
John Gomez: Really great, the crowds have been really receptive. The Mowgli’s and Jukebox the Ghost, we’re lucky to have them as touring mates and we’re so happy they brought us out. Just their fans, they’re always really receptive. They’re music lovers and it seems like they are the type of fans that come to a show to find cool music. It’s been really easy.
Then maybe for you, you’ve only released the seven song album. Clearly not a ton of material out there but from seeing the set tonight, you pretty much play the whole thing.
Cameron Walker : Yeah we play the whole thing, almost front to back too.
Literally the whole album. Maybe songs that are sticking out to you as fan favorites. Obviously “Good” was the first big release. You put out “Friends”, “Sunglasses”. Maybe a song that’s surprising you as a big one?
CW: “Neon Summer”!
Stephen Gomez: “Neon Summer”. I think when we play it live, it has a lot more energy then it does on the album.
JG: That one surprised me.
CW: Even from the first time we rehearsed it, it was like oh this is a really good live track. And it totally translates live better then we ever imagined. It’s been really cool to see people react to it.
Perfect, then from looking online, the band is still relatively new. When did this band really start coming together, when did you really form Twin XL?
CW: Two years ago.
SG: It was when we started writing songs.
CW: Just to see how they would turn out. And maybe find an idea of where they would go eventually.
SG: It was really about a year ago, after we had done a few.
CW: Three songs.
SG: Yeah, that John came to me and was like we should make this a band. And I hadn’t even thought about it, then I was like, huh, yeah we could do that. Then I started listening to the songs and was like, yeah this could be a cool band. Let’s do it!
CW: It was a very organic, natural thing where we actually were writing songs not for the sake of starting a band but just to write songs.
JG: Took a year off between it.
CW: Maybe the songs would do something else, we didn’t really know, and then about three or four songs in, John brought it to the table being like ‘Do you guys want to be a band?’ I think at the time, I was like yeah okay sure dude.
JG: And I was like, ‘No for real’. Well then we started taking photos, started making music videos, and all of the sudden it was a real thing. It wasn’t a big thought process of now we have this pressure on ourselves to do this thing now. It was just we had already started doing it.
SG: Once we kicked into gear, it was just go time.
JG: Five months ago, we put out our first song. And now The Mowgli’s are playing, we’re here backstage, it was never a master plan. It was like sure, let’s go! Let’s make the first video. There’s a tour, there’s a show! I think today was like our fourteenth show.
CW: We’re just doing it. It doesn’t feel like work, it doesn’t feel like a struggle. I think we’re just genuinely enjoying every second of what we’re doing together as a team. To the point where it just is the right thing for all three of us collectively to be doing right now. We’re really loving what we’re doing. There was a lot of thought put into what we do, but there wasn’t a lot of though initially in doing it.
JG: A hundred percent.
So it just kind of came naturally?
JG: Everything instantly. The videos, everything, we were just like sure!
SG: John would be like, are you down to learn how to dance or work with this choreographer? Sure.
CW: I think it was my most used word.
JG: Then do it and look back being like this is so cool. Want to go on tour? Sure. Now it’s just been a really crazy five to six months now.
Maybe how has that been? You’ve obviously all put in many years playing music. Considering that, and with this being such a snowball affect. Maybe something new you tried with this project and maybe something left behind from past experiences?
JG: Trusting everyone and not thinking too much about.
SG: Trusting everyone to do what they’re good at. For example, John has this really great eye for visual stuff. He has a really specific vision for the videos and content. All that stuff, he just has a good idea of it and from the jump, we trusted him to do it. Then it turned out great so we did that again.
CW: We do it again and again and it just works. For Stephen, he mixes our records and he programmes the records. In the studio, we’ve all fallen into our different roles. Where me and John will be going back and forth.
JG: And Cameron’s an insanely good writer. Like an insane writer. That’s why we first got along, because we love writing songs together. We write songs like really fast together.
CW: In the studio we’re riffing and while we’re riffing, Stephen is painting the canvas and creating the sounds that we’re humming from our mouths. I think just a lot of trust and a lot of everyone being really phenomenal at what they do and really honing in on that specific thing.
JG: And also not being too precious.
CW: Yeah, not really over thinking.
JG: Yeah not over thinking, just going for it, and trying new stuff. Trying new stuff, and being like what’s the worst thing that can happen? No one’s going to die, let’s just do it, make this video.
SG: Well there’s that one guy who died that we’re not going to name.
CW: Even with the videos, I think every music video that we’ve done. I’ve done something that personally I wouldn’t have gone out and tried to do. Like sat on a moving car going thirty miles an hour, definitely could have died. “Sunglasses”, we ate forty Listerine strips and apparently that’s toxic. For the “Friends” video, we worked with a choreographer. I don’t think I’ve ever danced in my life even in a dancing setting. So I think everyone is outside their comfort zone in a different way. And I think that is the driving force.
JG: It’s fun.
CW: Yeah, everybody is going out on a limb here and in a lot of ways, people hear the music, they see us doing that and they think that’s cool. Then the more that we do it, the more we think it’s cool. It’s just this whole thing where we’re all just doing stuff that we wouldn’t normally do. And enjoying the experiences.
That’s crazy that it’s only your fourteenth show too. You already have this seven song album out, you’ve all written a lot in the past. When it came to the writing process for the three of you, did you all bring your own ideas or did you all collaborate?
JG: Every song pretty much came from bottom up in the room together. Maybe a few ideas were co-writes or came from a drum beat or a bass line but then everything comes together.
CW: The best stuff comes when it’s together.
Then clearly from talking to you guys, things have been a little crazy. You have this first tour, you’ve only been a band for several months. Maybe focuses or goals for these next few months as Twin XL?
JG: Touring, just seeing as many people as possible. Playing as many shows as possible, I think that’s really it for now. Just want to connect with as many people as we can in real life. That’s the goal, we just want to be on the road as much as possible.
CW: We want people to, after these shows, become new fans. And I think it’s happening. After these shows, if ten new people go home to listen to the EP and if they like one song off of it, then we did something right.