TwinPines are a four-piece from Melbourne’s south-east suburbs who wrangle the twangs and upbeat pace of surf-rock into a fusion of stoner pop with grungy undertones. The group is comprised of Llama Sims (guitar, vocals), Jacob Long (drums, vocals), Callum Grange (bass, back-up vocals), and Phillip Thomas (guitar). Kelly Herbison interviews them for In Review:
What genre do you identify yourself with?
Jacob: (Llama and I) always say surf-grunge, but then Callum says more grunge, so we just say alternative now.
Llama: Yeah, I’d say surf-rock, but we’re pretty different from the other bands we usually play with that are the real surfy side of surf-rock.
Jacob: We’re probably more like the Pixies side of surf-rock.
Callum: We’re definitely influenced a lot by the Brisbane bands at the moment… definitely that alt-rock grunge flavour, but we all bring our own things in. I’m always the one leaning over Llama’s shoulder like, ‘you should definitely scream here’.
Jacob: When Phil came into the band, we definitely shifted a bit in our sound, he really brought in a new edge and helped us develop our sets.
Llama: He actually just came in the band because he jumped up on stage during one of our sets, and I sorta just forgot to kick him out.
Who’s behind the lyrics, and is there a process that you go through when you write them?
Llama: I am, but there’s not much of an intellectual process behind it or anything, I wish there was, but it’s kind of more ‘what rhymes with this and sounds alright?’.
Jacob: I help out with rhyming lots of ‘oo’ words.
Llama: I find it weird singing about other people’s experiences, so I always try to write about things that I definitely know about.
Callum: I don’t write lyrics anymore; I did when I was around thirteen when I thought I was being super edgy by getting into music… They were terrible, so I don’t really try anymore.
Are there any particular methods that you use when recording to achieve your sound?
Callum: there are definitely some pedals in the work. Phil has this huge mother ship of a thing which we use. I like to have a lot of overdrive and fuzz in my bass, a wah sometimes, which locks into Jacob’s drumming with some lower tones.
Jacob: I always try to keep that surf-rock drumming method, really crisp and high energy stuff.
Callum: We all use Fender instruments, which sort of have their own distinct sound in and of themselves.
Llama: Yeah I think Fender have some interesting coils and constructions…sponsor us!
What artists have had particular influences on you each as individual players?
Callum: Well, in general, anything ’90s grunge. Dad introduced me to rock when I was young, which then developed into alternative rock, and high-school friends really introduced me into that heavier death metal sound. So people like Steve DiGiorio from Death. I’m into bass players that really push their role. So even like Cliff Burton from Metallica, because he was using those lead lines with fuzz and overdrive and wah… I really resonate with that heavier side of things which I think gives TwinPines another layer.
Jacob: I was a huge indie rock fan when it was in its heyday, so Matt Tong from Bloc Party, Jack Bevan from Foals, just that real dancey stuff. Then I started getting into the more technical side of things, but without losing that dance aspect of it. Phil also brings in that post-rock influence, and math-rock, which I think also have a lot of influence from hip-hop rhythms. I listen to lots of different things to keep a more well-considered approach to TwinPines.
Callum: Phil also introduced me to a lot of mathcore music which was absolutely a huge influence on me.
Llama: My taste has varied a lot; I was the biggest Motorhead fan until I was like twelve. Then I started to branch out, and I realised that my favourite part of Motorhead were those really rough sounding vocals. Not screaming, but the rougher edge that it has, so then I got into other groups like Pavement and Sonic Youth. And recently, I’ve kind of rediscovered a love for ’80s synth-pop, and I’ll just put on Phill Collins or something. I think it’s important to branch out, and TwinPines is really diverse in its influences which I think is a good thing because we aren’t confined at all.
Jacob: We can go back and list the old stuff, but there’s a lot of good shit coming out at the moment.
Llama: Yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff coming out right now, and it annoys me that people are just dissing new music because they’re only exposed to that top-layer. That top-layer is just simple and non-offensive, so it appeals to everyone, but in a pretty meaningless way.
Opinions on the Melbourne music scene?
Llama: I love it, it’s awesome. So welcoming. We reached out to three venues and got accepted straight away. It’s doing super well.
Callum: There’s such a culture for underground music, and you can go out any night of the week and find something.
Jacob: There are some great bands, but I guess the scene is a little bit disconnected, in the sense that it can be a little bit cliquey when you’re just starting out and trying to get connections. But there really are some great bands out, like Le Pine.
Callum: Once you dive in headfirst and just message everyone you can start getting around and gigging and making good relationships.
Jacob: There are a lot of shit bands too though. There’s a lot of shit ones. People are trying to portray that loveable no-hope thing, when they’re super privileged – they’re writing songs that they don’t seem to really know anything about.
Top four influential tracks?
Llama: ‘Stereo’ – Pavement; ‘Blacker the Berry’ – Kendrick Lamar; ‘Hula Hoop’ – Wavves, I just want my life to be as fucking nuts as that video clip all the time; Phil Collins – ‘Sussudio’
Jacob: ‘Helicopter’ – Bloc Party, ‘Physical Education’ – Animals as Leaders, ‘Alright’ – Kendrick Lamar, there’s a real control in the hip-hop, ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ – The Police
Callum: ‘Raining Blood’ – Slayer, ‘Hooker With a Penis’ – Tool, ‘I Punched a Lion in the Throat’ – Pulled Apart By Horses, ‘Panasonic Youth’ – The Dillinger Escape Plan
Do you think that releasing multiple albums a year reduces the power of the albums because there isn’t that breathing time between them and so there’s not a huge shift in sound?
Jacob: The cool thing that’s happening with the music industry right now is that it’s going back to how it was in the ’50s, like, Miles Davis would release four albums a year or something, and bands like King Gizz are normalising that again.
Callum: Yeah Gizz are reigning supreme in Australia right now.
Llama: Yeah I guess, but I think releasing lots reduces the restraint on the artists, so they feel that they can just let out whatever they’re feeling, they don’t have to store those feelings away and lose them just because they want to wait a bit longer until they start recording again.
Jacob: It’s all about experimentation – there are a lot of Melbourne bands who don’t really go out of their comfort zone or genre.
Llama: Yeah our next album is going to start out really surfy, then progress into something completely different, math-rockish, I wanna capture that idea of a breakdown across the album.
Callum: There’s a lot of that Mac Demarco twang going around right now, and he’s great, but it’s not good to just rely on the same stuff, you’re not going to do anything new that way.
Now give some shameless self-promotion
Jacob: Our EP’s on bandcamp now, so check it out!
Llama: Our next album’s on the way, it’s a live recording which everyone thought would be a really terrible idea.
Callum: And it surprisingly worked out really well.
Jacob: But it sounds amazing so we’re really happy with it. Also, shout out to the fans in Belgium!
TwinPines’ EP ‘Daze’ is available now to stream for free on bandcamp: https://officialtwinpines.bandcamp.com/release
*feature photo by Liam Brownlie