A Chat With Twinsmith
Omaha-based indie rock band Twinsmith return with stripped back and chilled out tunes for their third record, Stay Cool, out next month. Singles like "Matters" and "You & I" boost infectious and mellow melodies, perfect for driving around with the windows down on a summer day. Originally formed by the duo Matt Regner and Jordan Smith, the band has grown to include Bill Sharp on the bass and drummer Jake Newbold while on tour. Last Thursday, Twinsmith played Chicago as the third show of the Ultrasonic Summer Tour with Rooney and Run River North, following a hometown gig in Omaha. Before they hit the stage at Lincoln Hall, we caught up with the guys to talk about their simplified recording process, Jason Derulo, and Red Roof Inns...among other things. Get to know Twinsmith now!
ANCHR Magazine: Your single “You & I” just came out this week. How does it feel to get your new music out there in advance of the new record?
Matt Regner: It’s always great. Especially in this day and age where that whole process takes forever. Especially if you’re pressing vinyl. Basically you finish the recording, you finish mastering, then you’re just hanging out with the songs by yourself for a few months.
Jordan Smith: Yeah, it definitely feels good. It feels good to play new songs. That’s what we’re most excited for. We were rehearsing these songs as a band. We’d written and recorded them before we started playing them live. So the whole process was just like a long process of being able to start playing these. We’re excited to keep releasing music and keep writing.
AM: How was the recording process for this album then, compared to your past records?
MR: It was awesome. Basically that whole album came together in our house. We recorded it in our dining room. We didn’t really need--for all of these songs we didn’t need a big studio. We didn’t spend a ton of money. We could just find some cool gear and make it happen. Having complete control over everything and not like five people running around the studio, doing this and that, you start forgetting names. It was just for the most part Jordan and I, and then Graham Ulicny who produced it, showing up at 11 a.m. and working.
AM: So for the first two records, was it similar or you did actually record those in a studio?
MR: Yeah, in the studio you’re just rushed. So we weren’t on a time crunch with this. That’s when you start making mistakes.
AM: I think that comes across in the mood when you’re listening to the new record.
MR: There’s definitely more of a relaxed mood with this album. Maybe that goes back to the actual process, or our moods when we wrote the songs. Not having that studio rush, or worrying about the money, like the hours that you’re putting in…
AM: So I know tour just started a couple nights ago, but how have the new songs been going in the live setting so far?
MR: Great. There’s still just enough rust on them. They’re always fun to play, and we’re still making mistakes on them--
JS: But that’s good! I’d rather have that than be really bored.
MR: The Alligator [Years] album, we played those songs 100 times over the course of a year. You get burnt out on that. I don’t know how The Rolling Stones do it.
JS: They get millions of dollars.
MR: I’d play “Start Me Up” that much for a million dollars.
AM: What have been some of your favorite new ones then?
JS: I think “Defend Yourself”--
MR: Which actually, we planned on having it as a single, but we didn’t release it. I think that’s just the most fun to play live. It’s a fun groove. We always play it towards the end of the set.
AM: So you guys just had the hometown gig in Omaha last night, but is there anywhere else you’re really looking forward to playing?
JS: I’m interested to see what Davenport is gonna be like, cause I’ve never played in Davenport. I think we’ve played everywhere else. 7th Street Entry’s always fun.
AM: So you guys made a Spotify Playlist that for "songs to crack open a cold one to”--
MR: That’s all Bill!
AM: Then there was the “Stay Cool” one, which had all songs with “Stay” or “Cool” in the title, so how do you guys decide who gets the aux cord on the road?
MR: I’m the only one with a Spotify Premium account, but I have that damn new iPhone that doesn’t have the thing, and the van doesn’t have bluetooth. We’re not there yet as a band.
JS: We were there last week, but now we had to downgrade. Last tour, we listened to a podcast that was like 8 hours long when we drove from Chicago to Omaha.
MR: We listened to the entirety of S-Town. It was mind-blowing.
JS: We wanted the drive to be longer cause there was an episode and a half we still hadn’t listened to . That was the first time ever we were like “man I wish this drive was longer!” For the first five hours today, I don’t think we played a single thing.
MR: We usually just scan for a Top 40 radio station and keep it on a low volume.
JS: Unless it’s Jason Derulo.
MR: Derulo comes up! Everything else stays low.
AM: Do you guys tend to write while you’re on the road?
JS: You were writing [to Jake]--
Jake Newbold: It was a grocery list.
MR: He does all his grocery shopping in Chicago.
AM: Any other new bands you’re really into at the moment?
JS: We were talking about Kevin Morby on the way up here.
MR: He’s got a really good new album.
JS: Jake knows what’s hot!
JN: I’ve been listening to Chris Weisman.Tigerwine just put out a new record.
AM: Nice! So was there anyone you pinpointed as influences for the record?
MR: Not super specifically. Actually, yes, super specifically in the sense that there’d be one part in a song where I’d try to get behind the mindset of the guitar licks. Like “what were they thinking when they wrote that?” But there wasn’t like one band you could put an umbrella over the album. Which is definitely a good thing. You never want that to happen. I think all of us, for as long as we’ve been in the band, or been in bands period, we just all listen to stuff that isn’t anything like our music.
AM: Then you can pick up on the moods or certain emotions, or even like you said certain guitar pickings and stylize that to your own music.
MR: Yeah, totally.
AM: Cool, anything else this year you’re really looking forward to besides this tour and the album coming out? Anything planned for the fall?
JS: I think we’re looking forward to kind of just seeing what’s next. We’re just seeing what happens, and I think we’re ready for whatever.
AM: Maybe some bluetooth in the van?
JS: Yeah, get back to that! That’d be awesome.
AM: Oh and did you get a week of free rooms at Red Roof Inn that you Tweeted about?
MR: That was all [Jordan]
JS: I tried!
MR: We're big fans of Red Roof Inns.
JS: We stay there a lot.
AM: Any last minute words of advice?
MR: Don’t use Apple Maps to get through Chicago. We just figured that out today. It wasn’t lost, it was just using all these alternate routes. We basically got off the highway in Iowa and took side streets.