Music

Twin Peaks’ Cadien James Talks New Album, ‘Down In Heaven’

Music

Twin Peaks’ Cadien James Talks New Album, ‘Down In Heaven’

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Chicago band Twin Peaks made their first mark on the music scene as 18-year-old kids, fresh out of high school. But on their latest release, Down in Heaven, the boys have grown up.

With a matured sound, greater range and country twang, the album delivers sweet love songs with a heavy dose of rock ‘n roll. Tracks like “Butterfly” mix modern vocals with Rolling Stones-style guitar riffs, while “Stain,” a classic pop-rock ballad, shows the band’s softer side. “Heavenly Showers” is a standout, showcasing Twin Peaks’ diverse ability, recalling the folk songs of Townes van Zandt more than the Black Lips-style garage-rock of previous records.

But even with all its references, Down in Heaven, is unmistakably Twin Peaks—a sound they’ve honed after three records and countless tours. We recently caught up with vocalist/guitarist Cadien, as the band was on its way to play Bonnaroo, and talked about the new record, Keith Richards and being a hopeless romantic.


On Down In Heaven:

This one is the closest we’ve gotten to making a record sound like how we set out to have it sound. Sunken just shaped itself based off the equipment we had, and the knowledge I had of recording at the time. Wild Onion was 16 songs, kinda sprawling and all over the place, which has a charm to it. I’m proud of that group of songs, but we didn’t nail it exactly like we set out to. For [Down In Heaven], we wanted to make a record that was more cohesive [and] concise—a solid group of songwriting. We were throwing around words like ‘a back porch record’ or ‘a fire place record.’ The four of us chose one vibe, something kinda cozy that felt close to us and down to earth, and it just kind of worked out right.

On process:

We recorded this record in the Berkshires, in Massachusetts. We were living at a house on a lake, and had to drive into town to go grocery shopping or do anything. We were in just in a house there, hiking. It was a very laid back environment and that informed how we approached making the record. We improvised a lot more with our parts, figuring out a lot more as it was being done, rather than having it all finished before we went in, and we communicated more.

On making the record:

There was a lot of freedom in this album. We were just making music and art in a very organic way, and I wasn’t too concerned with trying to please critics or people. I knew that our fans would like it. I knew that we’re improving as songwriters and I didn’t feel a lack of confidence. Maybe it won’t please the same people, or maybe it will, but a group of people out there in the world are really gonna enjoy these kinds of songs. We’re not a band that labors too much over trying to fit in with any vision of ourselves. It’s all very organic and raw. We’re just kinda winging it.


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On Twin Peaks’ first song:

Jack [and I] have been playing together since like sixth grade. I remember the first song we wrote. He had lyrics and a melody to a song called, ‘Just Tonight,’ and he just sang it to me in school one day. After, we went to my house and I figured out the chords, and we recorded it. It was a pop-punk banger.

On dropping out of college:

I remember being on the road for our first tour. It was the summer after high school, our last hurrah before we were going to go to college. We did go to college, actually, for a little bit after that, but we were playing in Minneapolis and after our set, we were talking with Jillian, who played in a great band called Teenage Moods. We played in their basement and were all drinking in the backyard, and she was like, ‘So what are you guys doing after this?’ We were like ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to school,’ and she was like ‘What! Why are you going to school? Keep doing this!’ We didn’t immediately change our plans, but that was the start of us thinking ‘Damn she’s right. We should do this.’ When the gigs kept coming, we did, and now here we are.

On the album name:

To me, Down in Heaven can mean anything to anybody. It kinda represents a duality with our music—in heaven, but down. It can also be a cheeky thing you say to someone like, ‘How you doin’?’ Oh you know, I’m just down in heaven.’ It just fits the vibe of ups and downs you go through. You can be living the best life in the world, but it can still bring you down.


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On his favorite bands:

I love The Rolling Stones. I just revisited The Cure the other day in the van. I hadn’t listened to them in awhile and forgot how much I fucking love them. I love The Beatles, obviously. I really love Townes van Zandt, I love Jay Reatard still. The Ramones, The Beach Boys. We love Wilco. People have been telling me i sound like Rod Stewart a lot lately, so I just started listening to The Faces a little bit. I didn’t like really, really get into The Stones until after we finished Wild Onion, and now I’ve been hooked. I got ‘Let It Bleed’ tattooed on my collar bone. Keith Richards or Mick Jagger, if you’re reading this: let’s make out.

On being a hopeless romantic:

I just saw this great thing the other day—you know how Andrew W.K. does all those question and answer things? Well, someone asked him, ‘Who is your higher power?’ and he said, ‘Music.’ I’ve definitely always felt the most spiritual or religious when I hear music that pulls at your heart strings. I can tip-toe around it, but there’s definitely a part of me that’s a hopeless romantic. So I love songs that make you think, or give you memories, or bring a tear to your eye, or make you feel like you suddenly got stabbed a little bit.

On the hardest part of being in a band:

Everyone thinks it’s super glamorous being on the road, and there are definitely some great, glamorous, really fun parts about it, but its mainly just living in a van, not getting enough sleep in motels, and being hungover. It just takes up all your time. But at the same time, it’s probably the most worthwhile thing I could do with my time. It’s definitely worth working hard for. We don’t fuck around. There’s a lot of bands out there, and so many bands that work hard, but a lot of people complain about or don’t enjoy it. I take pride in being a hardworking band and we do it because we love it. It’s a labor of love.


Photography: Daniel Topete