In honor of this week’s release of Twin Shadow’s second album, Confess, here are some photos and videos from last month’s world premiere of his catchy, dramatic, driving new single “Five Seconds”, live from Times Square. The place was packed (even by Times Square standards). ?uestlove introduced the event. It was a big deal. The official video is available in higher definition online, but hopefully these clips put the premiere in the context and perspective of the chaotic and magical moment that some of us witnessed for the band’s video debut.
A former punk rock Bostonian, George Lewis Jr. picked up and left for NYC a few years back and soon found a new sound. Reemerging as Twin Shadow, Lewis’ career took off as he became one of music’s new and brightest shooting stars. His 2010 record, Forget found it’s way to Top Ten lists all over the world…. Not to mention being named one of the Top Ten 10 most stylish musicians of the year. While his well-deserved rise has kept him on the road almost non-stop since the release of his first record, Lewis spent December 2011 working on his follow up in Los Angeles. Released this Tuesday on 4AD, “Confess” has already garnered several favorable reviews from major and cutting edge press outlets, proving that Twin Shadow has plenty more to share and more to… well… confess.
Included with the videos and photos are clips from my last interview with Mr. Lewis late last September as he prepared to record his next record. For more information and the proper video experience, visit 4AD or twinshadow.net….. Enjoy…
You seem to have been touring non-stop. How many times have you slept in your own apartment this year?
I was actually trying to calculate it and I think it adds up to 25 days in a year at this point. So it’s pretty much been a year in a van and hotels. I might be exaggerating it, but when I really think about it, I don’t think I am.
Are you spent at this point?
To be honest I am toast at this point. I am completely, completely burnt. I made a pact with god to get me through this essentially.
You were talking a little bit about writing parts of the new record while being on the road, how is that going?
I’ve been trying, but it got kind of difficult, but now that we’ve gotten a little bigger, you have to do more press or there’s more preparation for the show, the sets are longer, the van calls are earlier. You get more responsibility and have less time to work on the thing.
You wrote the last record in solitude. Is that part of it? Do you need to get back to being alone?
Yeah, I think so. I think I thrive on that. While I was making the last record I was working for the dance company in Denmark. I mean “Castles in the Snow” was written in a hotel room– but I had 5 hours a day in my own hotel room, in the same hotel room, for a week. Now I have to bring all my gear into a hotel room, and sometimes your sharing a hotel room and its weird when you want to whisper sensitive lyrics into a microphone while other people are sleeping.
Well, I assume your mood has changed and you’re a bit happier this time around. Will that change the mood or style of the songs?
Yeah, I think so. I think that the phrase “Mo Money, Mo Problems” is strange to say, but the sadness is always being replaced by another sadness. You conquer your darkest problems and new ones show up. It’s always fuel to write about. On the other hand, I’ve seen a lot of amazing things this year and I want to focus on positive things now. I think that Forget is missing some of the fun that I did have in my life—and I want to capture that. And that’s actually more challenging. Writing fun songs is way harder. But I won’t have any “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”-type songs. Those are the fun songs that should never be written.
You didn’t have a band when you wrote the last record. Will you have the band be part of the recording process this time around?
Some of them. I thought about opening it up, but in the end I want to keep my cards close. Twin Shadow has always been a personably important thing so it’s hard to bring other people into it.
Is there pressure time-wise for the new record to be recorded?
Actually, I have put the pressure on myself. I’m actually going to officially be making the record in Los Angeles. I’m going to rent a house in the Hills, hopefully somewhere fancy, and rent a motorcycle and a car and just live there for 6 weeks or something. You are the first to know. That’s in a month.
Are you going to have Chris from Grizzly Bear mix it again?
I’m not sure. I want to get Chris involved somehow, but not sure how. But on the other hand, the one thing I can’t change is myself and how I write and the things I can change are who is involved in post-production and I’m interested in changing it up. I love Chris’ production and love working with him, but I want to experience something new, someone that’s been in the business for a long time making big records. It’s your typical sophomore ambition.
Do you feel a lot of pressure because your first record was so well received?
I think so. I think we’ve gained a lot of loyal fans and I think they’ll be expecting something similar, but as some people know, I can be a chameleon of sorts. But then again, I think Twin Shadow is meant to be a continuation of Forget. I feel pressure, but I’m not really worried about it. The pressure I’m worried about is the pressure I’m giving myself.
What are some of the highs and lows of being on the road for so long?
Low points are getting sick on the road. It’s such a drag. I went to the emergency room twice last year and it’s just scary when you’re on the road. Your body doesn’t know how to handle it. When you deal with so many places and so many people I think your mind just gets tricked. You go from state-to-state and you can communicate, but then you have to adapt to relate. Then when you’re in a different country and trying to communicate, that, on top of physical exertion– every bit of you gets worn out.
Any there any highlights from tour?
Yeah, we go to Portugal and they treat you like God over there. We showed up to Portugal once and they closed out a restaurant and locked the doors and gave us a 7-course meal at this beautiful restaurant. Then we did this in-store interview and they shut the doors and all these people pile up in the window peering in at you. It’s what you imagined when you first imagined what it might be like to be a rockstar. It’s a little taste of that over there, just as far as the treatment and respect that you get for being an artist. It’s not like we’re looking to walk into our local coffee shop and get a free cup of coffee every day; it’s just a respect and a real want to host and have the artist mean something over there. As far as other highlights… I had a guy come up to me in LA. He was a huge, huge Mexican guy, who looked like a low-riding Cholo gangster. He came up to me and said “hey man, I haven’t had a job in 5 years, I was doing nothing with my life. I was kicked out of my house.” And someone had suggested that he listen to my record and he listened to it and he couldn’t relate to my stories, but something about the music made him go get a job, start spending time with his daughter… I hope those things are true, but just the fact that he said that the record single-handedly changed his life is a real special thing. I mean hotel parties with models are really fun and I look forward to that for the rest of my life, but all of that shit doesn’t matter when you hear somebody say that to you. Some people are afraid to talk to artists that they like, but I love hearing things like that. It kind of makes me feel like what I’ve wanted to do means something.
Have you learned anything about yourself through all of this?
I learned that I’m possible more evil than I’d like to be. And I’d like to change that. I can be a nasty son-of-a-bitch sometimes. Maybe I’ve already known that and I’d like to have fun with that, but now it’s kind of raw and ugly. And that’s one thing I’m learning and trying to change.
I saw you in Spin when I was at the airport. So you’re one of the most fashionable people in rock n roll?
I don’t know what they actually said. It’s weird, there’s a lot of pressure in this fashion thing. The thing is I just like to dress well. The truth is I’m wearing the same thing now that I’ll be wearing on stage tonight. It’s not like I’m putting on my Batman costume.
What do you think about the term “chillwave” that all the kids are talking about?
Well, I don’t really care about it. I think anyone who is in their 20’s now will be in their 50’s one day and they’re going to feel really embarrassed. That’s all I have to say about that.
So when are you going to sell out?
I already have. I sold out June 1st of last year. I woke up and thought “I”ve sold out”. I didn’t sign anything. I didn’t do anything. I just came to terms with the fact that I have mentally sold out.
I don’t think people will want to hear that.
Anything you’d like to say to the Boston people?
Boston, I’m starting to love you again.