Photo by Daniel Topete
Starting out in the cramped apartments and basements of the Chicago DIY scene, Twin Peaks has risen to critical acclaim and toured all around the world, yet haven’t forgotten about their roots. This February, they released their latest album titled Sweet ‘17 Singles. A compilation inspired by the infamous Jay Reatard filled with songs that were released in pairs every month between July and December. With a focus on purely creating music and not clouding it with all the dynamics that go into a record release, they have created a series that is truly made for their fans.
Substream: Where did this idea for the Sweet 17 Singles Come From?
Jack Dolan: First of all, we thought it was a pretty cool. To start, the best example would be when Jay Reatard did that. I know we’re all really big fans of him, and that’s a super unique thing to do. Also out of necessity, since we’re touring all the time we don’t really have the opportunity to get in the studio for super long periods of time. So it was kind of a way of doing them in between tours every time we were back, and just kind of doing them ourselves completely which gave us a lot of freedom. It all combined to create a perfect situation for that, and something unique for our fanbase.
S: So would you say this was more so for your fans since it wasn’t a dramatic release, instead putting out a steady stream of music every month?
Jack: Right, it’s exciting – month to month people get more excited. I know a lot of people were kinda disappointed that the 7” series sold out really quickly. By the end of it everyone was so stoked that it had been out anyways. The actual compilation LP is pretty much available everywhere now. I feel like it was a little extra secret too, a little extra surprise. Everyone could enjoy this at the end of the day.
S: What was the writing process for this series? I know you guys were on the road for a pretty long time.
Jack: The benefit of having four song writers is that we have a shit ton of material all the time. I feel like we’re all constantly working on new stuff, and with being on the road all the time even some of the singles series tend to not feel fresh. You get comfortable with it. Any band will tell you that the most fun you will have when playing is when you get to play your newer stuff.
S: So would you say you guys write most of your work democratically in a sense?
Jack: Yeah, we all do it separately and then we’ll bring something to the table. Typically we don’t turn anything down, we usually make it work. Worst case scenario, the song doesn’t make it to a record then we’ll save it for later and put it out on something when the opportunity comes. Everything ends up seeing a little bit of the light of day.
S: I think it’s really interesting that everyone contributes to the song writing process. I personally have not met too many bands where everyone writes. Typically it’s maybe one or two people out of the band who write the songs and then talk about it with the other members.
Jack: Yeah definitely, it gives us a lot of freedom. It used to be kind of challenging when we were younger and making records and stuff. At least towards the second record, and we hadn’t been in the studio for awhile and we put 16 songs on it. A lot of it didn’t really sound that cohesive with three different songwriters just kind of popping in songs one after another. Since then I think we’ve learned to kind of I guess.
S: So how would you guys record since you were on the road constantly?
Jack: So we did the first couple ones in a studio that ended up getting sold, but we also got robbed. Somebody who we knew in the studio, I guess he was producing beats or something like broke into our room and took a bunch of mics and some valuable shit but not a lot of good shit. So we got evicted, but also got robbed. So we had to move this single series somewhere else. We did most of them at Treehouse Records in Chicago, we’re good friends and we’ve kinda supported each other for a long time. They really helped us out with squeezing us in there, and at this point we were in a time restriction so we had to get these things done. But we figured it out. Also at Decades Studio in Chicago helped us out a bit.
S: Where did you guys get the name Sweet ‘17? I found out about the project towards the tail end of it after everything happened in 2017 so I thought the name was kind of funny.
Jack: I think that was I guess the vibe that we wanted to give when we came up with it and obviously this was created at the beginning of the year. I believe it was Cadien who came up with it and it was a kinda off the head sort of the thing.
S: Was there any particular direction that you guys wanted go with this compared to your older sound in previous releases?
Jack: I don’t really think so. Well as I said before, we try to match each other’s excitement level in all of the songs. I think at a certain point, we were just kind of riffing. Like in the “Sun and The Trees,” I think Cadien wrote that song or we first started playing that song when were 17 or something. I think it was more so about matching a good A-Side with a good B-Side. I think that was the beauty of that too. We’re not doing a record or a full length or anything like that. We could just kind of go in any direction that we want.