Published Jan 26, 2009Like many of their peers in Vancouver's burgeoning punk underground, Twin Crystals love to release limited records. The fact that they own their own lathe and can produce runs of 50 with relative ease means a lot of material that's hard to track down. Fortunately, the good people at Needs More Ram Records have compiled enough Twin Crystals material to constitute a full-length album, and the result is a succinct look at what makes this dark punk trio so great. Combining elements of new wave, noise, garage and straight-up punk rock, singer and synth-man Jesse Taylor, keyboardist/guitarist Jeremiah Haywood and drummer Jordan Alexander teeter between fist-pumping anthems (see opener "Children") and slow synth jams (the moody "Spell On You") with ease. They're also very talented songwriters, demonstrating a strong knack for melody on would-be hit "Punk Heart." Still, the majority of the album explores echoing atmospherics and dark synth dirges, as the band let their creeping keyboards, lo-fi production and Taylor's vocals create a brooding dynamic. Consistent in both quality and innovation, the album is a fitting introduction to this much-hyped band, if you couldn't find the limited record at that sweaty basement show when you had the chance.
How has it felt to get written up on some of the larger U.S. blogs?
Taylor: There's been some rad stuff written. Usually it's all good, but I still don't think people know where we are coming from.
What do you mean by that?
I think it's because those people know us through our original label, Summer Lovers United, which is primarily a dance label. I figure people just lump us in with these next hype bands or whatever, when in reality we are just a basement punk band. We sit around and get high and listen to Black Sabbath bootlegs. I'm not sure if they hear the passion that is behind our music.
What bands were you in before Twin Crystals and what happened to them?
I've played in Live Girls, Passionss, Channels 2 and 3, Arc, Reflektionss, Cheerleader Camp and Terrorbird. Channels 3 and 4 are still around actually, just got back together and played our first shows in two years. We went on a big UK tour and realized that we can't get along on tour. We all have different standards of living, I guess, but we're all best friends and grew up together.
Is there a different dynamic to Twin Crystals that makes you get along better? Will Twin Crystals have more longevity?
Oh, yeah, we never fight. We all have pretty much the same ideas when it comes to touring. We don't mind sleeping in a car in the desert and driving for 14 hours. Jeremiah and Jordan are the funniest people ever, so we can make the best of any situation. We're always just so excited to go on tour and see what's happening in the USA right now. There are lots of really great bands like Soft Shoulder and Night Wounds.
What were your intentions with Twin Crystals and when did you start?
Well, the name came first in the winter of 2006. I had a few guys I really wanted to try playing with, Jordan and our friend Air. Then I started coming up with these ideas for Channels 3 and 4 that would never work, so I wanted to try them with Jordan, we started renting out a rehearsal studio and jamming out "Two Girls" over and over, for hours sometimes. When we first started, we were huge into repetition, so all our songs were based on one or two chords. We were recording constantly and ended up making a cassette of a few demos, like five or six songs, and we gave it out on our first tour when our friend Caroline was in the band. I think the band really got going because of our friend DJ Rick in California, who was at the show and grabbed a tape and started playing it.
When did the full-length become something you were planning?
We are always totally broke, so we actually had no intention of releasing this record. We're really into recording demos over and over on different tape machines or with different people, so we make lathe cut records, and make like 50 copies and sell them on tour. Making an LP is like thousands of dollars, but our friend David approached us and wanted to make an LP for us. We were going on a U.S. tour last fall and it was perfect timing, so we had all these demos recorded on my eight-track, and David liked some more than others. We wanted to have live stuff, jams, punk hits and drones all over the record but David wanted to keep it as an LP, so we recorded a few more songs in a similar fashion as the others and put eight of them together. It's really not like our first record, it is really a demos LP behind the surface. But it was easy to put out because everything was already done.
Are you happy with how it turned out?
I think we all are, to a certain extent. I mean, at times, it sounds a bit scattered but if you know that it's a demos LP then it makes sense. To someone who thinks we went into a big budget studio, they might think differently. We haven't really passed many copies around of it. I'm a bit nervous of what people will think, only because no one knows it's a demos LP. Our label didn't want us to write the word "demo" on the sleeve.
What happened with SLU and what label are you with right now?
Nothing happened with SLU, we just like to put out a lot of records so we went with the next guys in line. It's a pretty good situation to be in right now. We just released a split single with Shearing Pinx on Isolated Now Waves, and the LP is on Needs More Ram. We have a few more records coming out on labels in the U.S.
How did you first get into punk and independent music? Is the concept of DIY something that will always be important to you?
DIY forever and ever! I got into punk through Sonic Youth and Nirvana. Everyone in our scene probably feels the same way, because we all grew up in small towns. All we had was MuchMusic, who would play those two bands and they were very important for the whole world to know about the Germs, the Fall, Patti Smith and Spacemen 3.
Have you ever played more traditional punk or hardcore or has it always been on kind of an experimental bent?
Well, every band I've been in always have the element of improvisation on more of a free-jazz sense, but we are all into Black Flag, Negative Trend and Flipper. Me and Jeremiah have a hardcore band called White Christians that will soon start playing. I'm really into a lot of different styles of music. I worked at a record shop and got into lots of African music and lots of old jazz. I think on our record it shows how many different styles we are into. I think our record sounds like anywhere from Suicide to Hole to Soft Cell to DNA.
What do you hope to accomplish with Twin Crystals?
I think we just want to keep growing but never compromising.
Where do you see it going and how do you see it ending?
I see it going into massive tours and sleeping in cars, definitely ending when one of us dies.
If you had unlimited funds and means, what would you do with the band or yourself?
I think we would use the money to fly to the UK so we can tour, and if I had any money I would pay to fix all of my broken guitars
What is coming up from the band?
A new split cassette on Campaign for Infinity out of Montreal, a full U.S. tour in April, a new seven-inch on Gilgongo, and a Black Sabbath covers record. We're also releasing our LP on cassette, all rerecorded on a boombox. (Needs More Ram)