Twin Peaks Has Figured Out Its Rock 'N' Roll Ethos

The image of a handful of young dudes barreling around the country in a van touring on neo-psych, garage-influenced rock music has almost become a cliché at this point.

Thanks to a steady flow of Burger Records lo-fi cassettes and psych festivals across the country, the sound of this generation’s rock music is undoubtedly dipped into a vat of nostalgia for something it was never even a part of. Jack Dolan, bassist and vocalist for Twin Peaks, doesn’t have the answer as to why this has lingered as the dominant sound for modern rock music, why it won’t stop being such a thing.

“I have no — no really idea. Bands like Tame Impala and the Growlers got really popular — I don’t really listen to those bands at all — but they had something to do with it. I think the whole festival culture has something to do with it. The music lends well to that sort of thing,” Dolan says.

For Twin Peaks, their sound came out of Chicago’s DIY scene — a scene Dolan remains very proud of and to which he’s still connected. While whispers of the Troggs, Zombies, Kinks, and Stones abound on the band’s 2016 release, Down in Heaven, Dolan says what sets the band apart from other neo-psych outfits is kind of their actual outfits. The admitted Second City mentality meant that, for Twin Peaks, rock ’n’ roll wasn’t about the fringed vests and vintage denim. 
“A lot of bands are really into maintaining a look or whatever that is. We don’t really do that. … Coming from Chicago, we don’t have a defining sound or look, because it’s all breaking out of the DIY scene where we came from,” he says. “We’re underdogs, and we always have that chip on our shoulder … Everything about us is kind of chippy. We take what we can get.”

While Dolan points specifically to Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson as his bass inspiration, overall, Down in Heaven offers a more polished take on the band’s carefree, “sha-la-la-la”-laced jams. Their youthful, fun-loving sound and high-energy stage antics have garnered the band a sizable following, though it’s also led to the common misconception that the band suffers from musical Peter Pan syndrome. One article referred to the band as “scuzz mongers.”

“I guess that works,” Dolan says. “As people, we’re pretty dirty, gnarly dudes — especially when we’re on tour all the time.”

Most other articles, though, say the same thing: Twin Peaks refuses to grow up.

“It’s funny when people say shit like that because, like, we do so much fucking shit all the time. We work so hard. We work harder than a lot of people think we do. It’s cool and it’s fine if, from an outside perspective, that’s what it looks like — that we’re just goofy and having fun and not growing up. But I know that I take a lot of pride in how much we’ve grown in the last six or seven years of playing together,” he says.

Still, as a former DIY kid, Dolan is quick to note his gratitude to be at a stage with his band where they’re staying in hotels (rather than couches and floors) and making enough money to not be borrowing it anymore.

“As we speak, I still live at my mom’s house, mostly out of convenience or whatever. It’s not like we’re rich or anything, but it’s nice to know that this is now my job and my career,” he says. “It’s sweet. If that’s all I get out of this, it’s fine with me. I mean that’s all anyone wants is some stability in doing what you love.”

So if it seems like the Twin Peaks is effortless and maybe even a little juvenile, that might just mean they’ve figured out how to be a rock ’n’ roll band: keeping it fun, engaging, and light, and producing music so solid it seems simple.

Twin Peaks is scheduled to play Cresent Ballroom on Thursday, September 22.
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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch