ABOVE: TWIN RIVER. PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDSAY ELLIOTT.
Evolving from stripped-down folk to supernatural, punk-inspired rock music, Vancouver’s Twin River has transformed over the past five years. The band began as a duo—consisting of Courtney Ewan Bromley and Andy Bishop—but has since grown into a five-piece, adding Dustin Bromley, Malcom Jack, and Rebecca Law Gray to the mix, resulting in surf-infused tunes reminiscent of the ’60s and filled with influences from rock goddess Stevie Nicks, Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and more.
In 2011, Twin River released their Rough Gold EP—a folk-tinged foray into the world of rock. This time around, however, the band’s debut full-length record, Should The Light Go Out, introduces a more full-bodied and developed sound. Here, we are pleased to exclusively premiere the voodoo-infused rock track “Word To The Wise” from the forthcoming LP. Twin River’s Courtney Ewan Bromley also spoke with us about supernatural stories, the band’s musical transition, and going with the flow.
ILANA KAPLAN: Can you tell me a little bit about “Word To The Wise?”
COURTNEY EWAN BROMLEY: It’s one of the first songs we wrote for the new record. It was one of the first ones we wrote as a full band. If I could pinpoint any kind of shift in our sound, it would be seen in this song. So, this is a good song to talk about.
KAPLAN: How did you loop in the other band members?
BROMLEY: It kind of happened supernaturally. It helps that we were all friends previously. The Vancouver music scene is small enough, so if you play in a band for a long period of time, you’re going to meet everyone else who is doing the same thing. At the time when Andy and I recorded our 7-inch called Rough Gold, we recorded it with Malcom who is now our bass player, but we just contacted him for the recording. We recorded it as a two-piece in his living room and we had Rebecca, who is now in the band, pop by to do vocals. The last day of recording Andy and I got offered opening spots for Julie Doiron. We were moving away from the idea of a two-piece and we had just finished the work with Malcom and Rebecca. We asked them if they wanted to play the show with us, and if it [went] well, we could talk to them about being in a band. So, that was how we did the first show, and our drummer, Dustin, was the last puzzle piece. He had asked to join the band a couple of times, but we were kind of sitting on the fence for a while. He found us, but we found the others.
KAPLAN: Do you have a theme resonating throughout your new record?
BROMLEY: That’s a hard thing. There’s definitely a noticeable shift with us as a band on this record. In the simplest terms, it just doesn’t sound like our last demo. I don’t think it sounds the way people were used to us sounding. That’s a big shift. I think it mimics what was going on in my own life, and I think the title speaks best to that idea, “Should the light go out?” It’s an idea of questioning, a “What if?” We kept thinking, “What if we do this and that?” which I think is largely in part to me being a crazy OCD planner person. I got to a certain point where I was like, “This is silly and there’s no benefit in planning everything.” That’s why I liked the title so much. There’s no benefit in going crazy thinking about those things. We just went in and did what we wanted to do. A big goal of this record was to sound not so over-rehearsed because it was a great leap from our beginning material. We wanted to do what came in the moment. We just went in and came up with what we came up with, if that makes sense.
KAPLAN: Obviously, twin is the first word in your band name. There are so many bands that have the word twin in them: Twin Shadow, Mr. Twin Sister, Twin Forks, Twin Limb, Twin Peaks, etc. Why did you ultimately choose a band name with twin in it?
BROMLEY: Andy and I have been playing since late 2009, early 2010. There weren’t quite the multitude of ‘twin’ bands like we have right now. I think it came out of us being a two-piece. Andy and I had band practice one day, and we thought, “We better come up with a name for this.” At the time, I was fixated on the duo aspect of us, and the name he came up with the name Deep River. So we combined them into Twin River. I’m sure there were a ton of twin band names five years ago, but it didn’t seem like such an overwhelming number like it does right now.
KAPLAN: With “Word To The Wise,” I hear a spookiness behind the track. Are you very inspired by supernatural things?
BROMLEY: I love spooky shit. I’m all about that kind of stuff. I’m actually a classicist, so I work on Latin literature and I mostly do Latin tragedy. I’ve never really thought of it being an inspiration, but I guess for the way my voice sounds, the spookier, the weirder and more supernatural shit, the better. I never thought about it for the way my voice sounds, but I definitely have seen it for my mood.
KAPLAN: What’s the scariest thing you’ve seen in your study of classic literature?
BROMLEY: There is a lot of weird religious, sacrificial shit they did back in the day. My favorite play is Thyestes—it’s written by Seneca. It’s about two brothers and one pisses off the other and in retaliation, he cooks his nephews and feeds them to his brothers. The language that the author uses to describe all of the blood and guts is very visceral. If you read it in Latin, you can hear the crunching bones and tearing limbs. It’s super gross and awesome. I don’t think a lot of people think about that when they think of Latin scholars. I think people think it’s weird what I chose to do.
TWIN RIVER’S SHOULD THE LIGHT GO OUT WILL BE RELEASED FEBRUARY 17 VIA LIGHT ORGAN RECORDS.