Cameron Walker of Twin XL is Listening to Big Sean, Smash Mouth, and Frozen

Published May 28, 2020

Walker (center) with Stephen Gomez (left) and John Gomez (right) of Twin XL. Photo by Braverijah Gregg.

This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral. In this edition, we chat with Cameron Walker, one-third of the Los Angeles-based alt-pop trio Twin XL. Following the success of their singles “Good” and “Sunglasses,” they debuted their first EP, How To Talk To Strangers, last year. Now, they’re back with “Melt,” a feel-good single to save us from quarantine monotony. Below, Walker talks Jimmy Eat World, the Frozen soundtrack, and his love for Smash Mouth.

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JEANNIE MCDONALD: What was the last song you listened to?

WALKER: The last song I listened to is a song by The Band CAMINO called “See Through.” We just got to play with them in Tampa. It was the first time I ever got to watch them live, too. They’re awesome. Really great band.

MCDONALD: They made my top songs this year, for sure.

WALKER: Yeah. I feel like it was a hype-y year for them. I found out about them fairly recently because everyone I know is talking about them or playing them.

MCDONALD: What’s one of your earliest musical influences?

WALKER: Man, I feel like the earliest I can remember is my mom playing the early Beatles records for me. I feel like a lot of people have that answer, but I feel like that’s just kind of the nature of the field. They were definitely one of those things that turned me on to be like, ‘Oh, I like catchy music and I want to listen to that.’

MCDONALD: Do you remember the first CD you purchased?

WALKER: I do. The first CD I ever bought was Astro Lounge by Smash Mouth. It must’ve been early, early 2000s or late 90s. It was a time. And it’s funny too, because since then I think “All Star” has had like three different resurgences, through the Shrek movie and then on the internet, through Reddit. It’s just such a great song. We’ve covered it live in two different ways. Smash Mouth actually picked our first single. They do this thing on Twitter called “Smash Pick of the Month” and they picked our song Good.

MCDONALD: Oh my god.

WALKER: Yeah, we have a little bit of a bromance going on with them on Twitter, which is awesome. Childhood dream come true.

MCDONALD: Do you have a favorite movie soundtrack?

WALKER: I can totally think of a cooler answer, but I’m just going to go with the last movie soundtrack that I listened to all the way through: the Frozen soundtrack. I remember when the Frozen soundtrack came out, I had this really long flight to the UK and I listened to it on loop for like six hours. We’ll go with that for now. But if I wanted to give a cool answer, I would say the Garden State soundtrack or something.

MCDONALD: What would you listen to while crying in your bedroom?

WALKER: I would listen to The Cure. Almost anything by The Cure, but more specifically, the song A Letter to Elise is like my go-to ‘I need to cry for two hours’ song. It’s a beautifully sad song. I mean, if you’re not listening to The Cure while you’re crying, then I don’t know what you are even doing.

MCDONALD: Do you have a go-to breakup song?

WALKER: Anything off Tell All Your Friends by Taking Back Sunday.

MCDONALD: And when you’re in a good mood, what do you put on?

WALKER: I’ve been listening to this band a bunch recently called Electric Guest, and they’re a little dance-y, a little poppy. They have a song called “Oh Devil” that has been my driving music. Or I’ll listen to it on tour, but just in the middle of the day, looking out the window.

The cool thing about touring in a van where we’re all in close proximity is you kind of get to listen to what everyone likes to listen to, depending on who’s driving. There’s been kind of a rotating playlist; like, if Stephen’s driving, there’s a lot of Bright Eyes happening. And if John’s driving—I remember on the first tour we did, we were both getting really into the new Towblow stuff. This last tour we listened to the new Jimmy Eat World album a bunch, which I was obviously going to check out at some point, but it wasn’t at the top of my list of things to do. But then someone played a song called “555” and I was like, this is amazing. I didn’t know I could fall back in love with Jimmy Eat World as hard as I did. That’s a couple of the things that are on the rotation.

MCDONALD: If you were hosting a house party, what would you play?

WALKER: That’s a good one. I want to play something that I think everyone’s going to like. This is the hardest one so far, because I wouldn’t want to go with something super indie because people need to listen to something else. Big Sean. Let’s just go through Big Sean’s entire catalog.

MCDONALD: What about a dinner party? That’s a little different.

WALKER: A dinner party? I’m thinking maybe some Mozart. Mozart or Jimmy Buffett.

MCDONALD: Are there any instruments you’d like to learn how to play?

WALKER: I’d like to get actually good at piano. I can fiddle around a little bit, but I never took lessons or learned how to really play piano, and I think anyone who plays music should try to know how to play piano a little bit. It’s definitely something I’d like to get better at someday.

MCDONALD: Do you have a theme song for your everyday life?

WALKER: I mean, I wake up every day and I imagine the Mario theme song just starts playing. I just go through my entire day that way.

MCDONALD: That’s pretty good. Motivational, even. Do you sing in the shower?

WALKER: I sing in the shower if I know that no one can hear me.

MCDONALD: Which is interesting because you sing all the time.

WALKER: The funny thing is I feel like I have no problem going onstage in front of however many people and singing at a show. Then whenever I go home for the holidays, or there’s a family gathering, someone’s always like, “Oh, Cameron, you got to sing for us.” And for some reason that terrifies the hell out of me.

WALKER: They’re like, “Hey, you sing professionally, you better be good.” I never said I was good. [Laughs]

MCDONALD: So do you have a song or artist in particular that you like to sing in the shower?

WALKER: I like to do a Tom DeLonge impression in the shower.

MCDONALD: I respect that. Do you have a favorite song to play live at the moment?

WALKER: Yes. I think across the board for all of us would be “Messy,” one of our newer songs, which we’re really excited about. But it just has this whole different feel live, and we do this thing where everyone holds up their phone flashlights and it’s like a super special moment in our set. We’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

MCDONALD: Do you remember the first concert that you went to?

WALKER: My first memorable one is I got to go see Box Car Racer, which I remember thinking was cool at the time, but it’s even cooler now because they were a band for such a short amount of time.

MCDONALD: Do you have a go-to karaoke song?

WALKER: It is sadly also “All Star” by Smash Mouth. I actually have a problem with it. Like anytime I’m at a karaoke bar, I get there and I swear I’ll have just two drinks and I’m asking people to sign me up for “All Star.” I did it on tour twice. I’ve probably done “All Star” at karaoke eight or nine times in my life at this point, and that’s just way too many times for anyone to do any song at karaoke.

Listen to Cameron Walker’s “Add To Queue” playlist below, and follow Interview on Spotify for more.