When one door closes, another one opens. That’s something we’ve all been told and have probably heard more than we could ever ask for. This saying is especially true for music – musicians and music fans alike. It’s hard as consumers of music, watching a band you enjoy fade away and ultimately break-up. You spend years listening to their music, buying their merch, going out to see them, and then one day you can’t do that anymore. The music is still online, or you have a physical copy in your room still, but no new music will come again.
I can’t speak on what it’s like to be a musician and having to lay to rest a project that you have spent so much time and effort into. I’d imagine everything I just wrote about being a consumer and losing music, is true all the same for being a musician, but worse. It’s your livelihood, and now you have to start all over.
But again, when one door closes, another one opens. Take the Summer Set, for example. They were a pop-rock band that existed in the “scene” for a decade, and as much as they tried, they couldn’t break onto the radio for steady rotation. This is a band that, truly, deserved better and were writing incredible pop songs for their time. However, when that ended, that allowed for new musical projects to come out on the other side.
One of those projects – featuring brothers John and Stephen Gomez – is Twin XL. They were the lead guitarist and bassist, respectively, of The Summer Set but were destined to be back and working in new music. This new avenue finds the brothers partnering up with Cameron Walker-Wright, who was in his own band called Weatherstar, but has also previously written for other bands (All Time Low, Sabrina Carpenter, more), as well as composing music for brands (Victoria’s Secret, Apple, T-Mobile) and even networks (NBC, ESPN, ABC), and more. Needless to say, the three members of Twin XL have all kinds of experience and are ready to be your next favorite band.
But it’s not just their experience that stands out, there was already a relationship between the three of them. Sitting backstage after their set at Newport Music Hall opening for Jukebox the Ghost and the Mowgli’s, Walker-Wright tells Substream about the band’s history. “Me, John, and Stephen have known each other for almost a decade, playing in different bands. They were in The Summer Set, I did The Ready Set’s live band, helped write for them, and eventually we all ended up moving to Los Angeles at different times,” he states. He mentions they always would talk about writing songs together, although it never quite came to fruition until recently. Even when they started writing – “Good” came together in one of their first sessions – they didn’t intentionally set out to start a new band. “We kind of ended up with these cool songs and decided to go pursue it.”
That pursuit has lead them to create a dedicated fanbase that is small but growing. This isn’t a slight to Twin XL, but after all, they did just complete their first cross-country tour. In fact, starting a band all over – from the ground up – is something that they are relishing in right now. As Walker-Wright tells me, “I think it’s very humbling to be on tour without a tour manager, a merch person, or tech or crew. We’re doing everything ourselves and I think it feels empowering and humbling at the same time.” While he admits that they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, they’re all pulling their own weight to make things run smoothly. “Stephen is making our day sheets for tour every day, and John is taking care of the stage stuff and the guitar rig we brought, Stephen is taking care of the tech stuff, and I’m doing merch, which I’ve never done before, so hopefully I’m doing an okay job.” He also highlights their touring drummer, The Cab’s Dave Briggs, and credits him for making things go smoothly along the way.
Touring is something that they’re all, individually, very familiar with and have done many times. But, the three of them as a band, with it being their first tour, they felt doing it themselves was the way to go. They’ve done a handful of shows around Los Angeles, and even appeared at The Maine’s 8123 Fest in January, but they only had done about six shows before their tour with Jukebox the Ghost and The Mowgli’s. “Every night I’m like, this is our first tour ever! Out of context that seems like we’ve never toured, but we’re carrying the experiences from our last projects with us. It’s kind of our second go around in a away,” Walker-Wright explains.
There’s a point in our interview when after the Mowgli’s set is over, the band members come backstage and into the green room we’re in. Quickly apologetic, they also question the recorder that I’m using – pondering over it’s likeness to a taser. The relationship they have with Walker-Wright is undeniable, as they express how much they enjoy him, with The Mowgli’s Colin Dieden jokingly sharing his man crush with Walker-Wright, to which he responds “We’re really appreciative of them. We’re very fortunate [that] they brought us out.”
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges along the way, though. The music industry is a very different place than it was a decade ago when everyone was first starting out in their own bands and projects. Walker-Wright tells me that this has been something Twin XL has had to navigate, specifically highlighting how much new music is out there, and the competition behind it. “One thing we’re focused on is constantly having out new content, whether it’s photos or posts or new songs, we’ve just been trying to constantly have new stuff every week, texting in the group chat every week,” he begins. “We’re trying to make sure that the people that are engaged with us are constantly getting new stuff and engage new people with having new things all the time. It’s crazy because when we decided to do it, I was like, ‘Oh this is fun, we’re in a band again,’ and now that we’re doing it and we’re on this tour, four or five months now, I’m realizing this is my full time job and I don’t have any time to do anything else.”
Twin XL was on tour supporting their debut EP, How to Talk to Strangers, which just dropped before the tour kicked off. Walker-Wright illustrates this is an important milestone for the band, “I think we had all these songs together and in order for us to tour we needed to have a body of work out that we were super proud of. When you’re on tour, you’re doing all of this stuff that can seem boring and now that we have this out it makes it feel really worth it for us.”
We talk about the writing process for the EP, to add on to his previous sentiments of the process going so well that they unintentionally started a band. He describes writing for the EP as “super natural,” explaining that they approached it as if they were just writing for other projects. “Especially since we weren’t really planning on starting a band, we approached it like we were doing it for whatever, writing just to write, and it just happened to go really well. It could’ve gone really bad, but luckily it was just a really good chemistry. It helped we were really good friends beforehand and we have a shared musical interest. We just kept doing it again and again and suddenly we had How to Talk to Strangers.”
While the tour with Jukebox the Ghost and The Mowgli’s is over, Twin XL is just getting started. They just announced a headlining show in their hometown of Los Angeles, and have a busy year lined up according to Walker-Wright. He didn’t divulge the details to me, but the band has shown and delivered a lot of promise in their brief career thus far. One door closes, another one opens – and that’s where Twin XL came to be. But that’s not going to define them or who they are – they won’t just be the ashes of previous projects for much longer.