Twin Peaks are back with their new album, ‘Lookout Low’. Guitarist Cadien Lake James – holed up in a coffee shop “coincidentally inspired by Twin Peaks the show” – fills us in on how it came to be.
Hello Cadien! What have you been up to since your last album then, any significant life changes?
We took a lot more time off in the past year than we have since we started touring back in 2012. It was really good to hunker down at home, have a chance to feel grounded in Chicago, I’m in a relationship, Colin taught himself pedal steel, we have our own studio, went backpacking for the first time, saw Neil Young solo two nights in a row… plenty has happened, but not a lot at the same time.
When did you begin work on ‘Lookout Low’, did you have any specific goals in mind for this one?
We started demoing last summer, maybe June. Our main goal was to be able to have a full band demo of every song so that we would have written at least a draft of all of our own parts before recording the songs proper, whereas in the past we’d be writing as we tracked a lot, and our drummer Connor never had much time to sit with songs and write parts past his first impressions. It was definitely worth it.
How did you go about picking which songs would make the cut, it sounds like your writing sessions were pretty prolific?
We picked 14 out of some 30 demos to learn to play together live and bring to the studio. I think we each picked our five favourites and saw where we all agreed, then fleshed out from there. The title-track of the record was actually the last one we picked to learn, kind of an afterthought of “we have more time to prepare, should we pick another?” situation that worked out well.
What’s going to happen to the offcuts?
We’ve got more in the bank now! Maybe we’ll make a withdrawal, or maybe we’ll just let them gather dust. It’s always good to have material to draw from and reimagine later. The last song on the new record was a reworking of a very old track.
It must’ve been a lot of fun experimenting with live recording, is that something you’ve done before?
We’d done the instrumental live on ‘Flavor’ and ‘Stranger World’ on ‘Wild Onion’, but we’d generally recorded piece by piece. We definitely had never sung the album take live. We were a bit intimidated by the idea, nervous about our tempo and singing and all, but it ended up making us a way tighter band working on getting it together, and boosted our confidence listening back and realising “hey we sound pretty good! This doesn’t suck!” And having a couple of first takes makes the record feel really good and spontaneous.
How was it working with Ethan Johns? What did he bring to the process?
Ethan really just helped us feel confident. His enthusiasm about the songs and the takes made us change our kind of hard-on-yourself pessimistic perspective. For a band so into Neil albums like ‘Tonight’s The Night’ that are pretty raw and loose and have lots of “mistakes”, we wanted to capture that, but couldn’t always get in that embracing carefree mindset and he helped us appreciate looking in the mirror at ourselves as a band.
Do you guys feel as though this album is a step up for you?
I definitely think the musicianship and musical conversation happening in the arrangements feels like leagues of improvement compared to our past work. It’s the most honest work we’ve made, and I think that makes it easier to connect with for me. And if I speak only for the other guys in the band, I think the songwriting has continued to grow so much.
Did you look to any new sources of inspiration during the creation process?
I think we were just a lot more collaborative and communicative during this record, diving deeper into being a band.
How would you like fans to react to the album?
Well, I hope they like it! Play it loud! Embrace it for what it is, a band playing their songs in a room as honest as they know how. It’s real, if nothing else.
Taken from the October issue of Dork. Twin Peaks’ album ‘Lookout Low’ is out now.