Twin Shadow, or George Lewis Jr., is a pretty cool guy. He plays in a cool-guy band, has a cool-guy haircut, drives a cool-guy motorcycle, and wears cool-guy leather jackets. He’s also an interesting interview and a talented multi-instrumentalist. I had the chance to talk to George for GQ.com some weeks back about his new album, Confess, and some other odds and ends (like his dream Christmas, the story behind his motorcycle crash, and his three go-to fashion tips).
The new album got about as much buzz as an album could get thanks to his stellar 2010 debut, Forget, which not only earned Twin Shadow critical accolades but high-profile fans like the Strokes. Confess is a little slower but also a little more adventurous, with George stepping away from the guitar and taking some more chances (he wrote a novella, called Night of the Silver Sun, which acts like a narrative fan fiction to the album and accompanying music videos).
George is also a bit of a trouble-starter, something we got into in the interview. Below are some choice quotes which didn’t make it into the GQ.com profile. Take a read below and take a listen to Twin Shadow here.
Interview with Twin Shadow
On the importance of actually being able to play your own instrument:
“You know I think that anybody in any craft is going to challenge themselves, you don’t have to be a good musician necessarily. I never learned how to read music, you don’t have to speak the language of music to play music but you do need to challenge yourself.”
On wanting to be better than those around him:
“I was never just like, “I’ll just stop and play the guitar.” I was like “No, why is that person playing piano and I can’t?” That kind of stuff pisses me off when I see people doing things better than me and I get hungrier.”
On wanting to ditch his guitar:
“For me it’s just a tool. Actually I can’t stand playing it. I’ve been wanting to stop playing guitar for ever and ever. I just can’t really justify having five people on stage with us.”
Because you don’t like them?
“No, it’s just a big family to take care of and a lot of personalities to deal with. I always say I first started playing saxophone but guitar was the thing that I realized got me attention and that very much was the reason for me for pursuing it. Also, I couldn’t afford a saxophone and my dad had a guitar in the closet.”
On the motorcycle accident that “inspired” the album:
“It happened a long time ago, like six years ago or something and it was just… It’s funny, we didn’t have a bio written [for the album] so I just wrote a little whatever and now it’s becoming; It’s going to become the thing that I hate talking about most.”
Do you have a dream motorcycle?
“A 1972 Triumph Bonneville.”
On not dancing at concerts:
“You know what, I cant really criticize too much because I don’t dance at shows. I just went to a Steve Aoki DJ set and it was such a circus that I had to just watch it all.”
That’s a tough show not to dance at.
“That’s a really tough show, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I did eventually end up in the back dancing with lots of girls who were taking lots of drugs.”
Is that what musicians do?
“Yeah that’s what they do, but at the beginning of the night I was definitely just an observer. Unfortunately that’s what intelligent people do, they can’t let go and have a good time the second they get to a club. I’m trying to revert, I’m trying to regress back into my Florida self who would have just been, like, happy feet, the second you hit the floor. I’m trying to get back there. I’m trying to get dumb.”
On the state of music and his need to create something beautiful:
“Why else would I do it? I could be content getting a job somewhere and playing guitar to myself but even though music is so abused right now, I really believe that people need it more than ever you know?”
“Because there’re so many other evils to distract you and music has always been such a pure thing.”
On why he ends every concert with “Forget“:
“I’ve always been just a sucker for ballads at the end. There’s nothing I can do about it. One of my favorite songs is KISS — “God Gave Rock and Roll To You.” I don’t like KISS but that ballad makes me feel, makes me feel like I went to heaven, like, rock and roll heaven.”
“I’ve just always been really close with my family, even when I wasn’t that close. We have like a collective way of understanding the way each other change that my friends don’t understand.”
On his dream christmas:
“Dream Christmas isn’t necessarily with my family, I’ll say that.”
So then what’s dream Christmas?
“Dream Christmas is like, you know, Swedish girl in the countryside of Sweden with one cow, one horse, one log of wood, I don’t know.”
On men’s fashion:
“Right now there’s like a huge split in guys who look like douchebags and guys who look like they take care of themselves in the morning. I mean, there is middle ground and the middle ground is also grim. Well, it’s not that grim, I gotta give a guy credit for trying but guys could try a little harder you know?”
On his “Top 3 Fashion Rules for Men”:
Top three. Ok. Colored socks are a good thing. In many different colors. You should have every color of the rainbow, socks. That’s, the thing about guys is they don’t know how to have any fun. Or how to have a sense of humor about their clothing. Socks are a pretty good way of dealing with that issue. No one takes it seriously, the only thing you’re going to do is get some girl to be like, “Your socks are so cute” and then you have the night of your life, right? Um, other tip, don’t leave your socks on when you’re having sex because it’s just, it’s just comical. You don’t want to catch a glimpse in the mirror of you with the socks on.”
Is there a third, sock-related tip?
“No, there’s not. That’s enough about socks.”
On how the Internet has changed music:
“I’m always surprised now with the Internet whether people who are newcomers to a band know what a band looks like. Less people know what the band looks like because they’re so bombarded with images they cant remember who’s who anymore. There’s no prejudice when you hear music, you either like it or you don’t.”
On his brief, new-found love for Sublime:
“I was on a plane ride to Brazil, and I was thining about Sublime and I was just like, “God, who are the unfortunate people listening to that now?” But I remember when I was really young, you know, we listened to Sublime so I was like, “You know what? I’m curious.” I bought 40oz. to Freedom on iTunes and I listened to it on the plane ride and I fucking loved it. It was so much fun.
“Ok, I mean I was really drunk on red wine but I needed to sleep really bad on that plane.”
On hiding from his own fame:
“No, no, I’ll probably be the guy with the microphone. I’m not at that stage of my career yet, hiding in the shadows.”
Image courtesy of NRK P3