Interview: Cadien Lake James of Twin Peaks on Lookout Low and Collaboration

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Keeping things fresh and exciting after four studio albums might be a challenge for most bands, but for Chicago’s Twin Peaks, they're feeling as revitalized as ever. The band have presented ten carefully selected tracks with their new album Lookout Low that collectively reflects their growth and decision to embrace a more experimental approach with the record — including techniques that you can’t hear, such as taping two microphones to a football. In the lead-up to the album’s release last week, I spoke with Cadien Lake James of Twin Peaks on how they approached Lookout Low differently comparing to their previous albums and why he thinks it’s their most collaborative body of work to-date.

According to James, they set out to channel the vivacious live energy of their shows and the experience their fans get whenever they witness a Twin Peaks show live in the flesh. “I think on this record we got to capture a little more of what we thought was special about our live shows and what was missing on our previous records.” During their early live shows, he notes that they were open to trying new things, whether it was horn players or a live saxophone — and for their latest record, they wanted to recreate the energy and exhilaration of the live aspect of their music and the reason they fell in love with playing shows in the first place.

For the band, it was also a matter of returning back to basics and scaling their approach back. “A huge change for us was cutting back to something more old school, it was a lot more honest and natural.”

They also set out to be more collaborative with this record, with James calling it the "most collaborative record" that they've created so far. They wanted to work on their communication and allow all members to participate and throw in their ideas. This included spending more time building songs and demoing them together. After demoing them, they would then re-hash the arrangements live. The band became closer as a result of working on the record and therefore helped to create a body of work that they were all happy and comfortable with.

He called the process of working collaboratively as “rewarding for the band” and the final product was a sound that they were proud of. “We wanted to get everything out of an arrangement and not regret it. You’ve gotta commit to a record that people are going to listen to forever and give it that special care and attention.”

Across the process of working on Lookout Low, they ended with approximately twenty-seven demos. He notes that it was easy for them to cut it down to around fourteen, which they then recorded, deciding the final ten would prove a lot more harder for the band. They went through a series of four or five different tracklists before deciding what the final list would be. “We were struggling to get the right sequence,” he said, “Ethan Johns [who produced the record], had a sequence similar to the one we picked and ultimately, I think the final one flows right and the tracks fit together.”

Recording more than enough tracks means that they’ve got some music in the vault, possibly to release at a later date. One of the tracks is available on the physical release for fans who get their hands on a physical copy of the album. He also discussed the possibility of using the tracks that didn’t make the cut to help raise money for charity and do something positive with them.

Now that the album is finally out in the world, the band are looking forward to taking the record as far as they can, including potentially returning to Australia. In the meantime, before they confirm details of a return to our shores, they’ll be touring the US and Europe. For them, it all comes down to playing shows and the very experience that inspired Lookout Low in the first place, “We’ll see how the record does, but we love playing shows more than anything, and it’s always the thing that really makes the most sense to us.”

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

Listen to Lookout Low by Twin Peaks below:

Watch the video for 'Oh Mama':

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