Hotstar: Twin Peaks Wings It To The Riv And Beyond

Cooper Fox
– Love ‘Em Live
“The biggest marketing tool we have is putting them in front of people at a show,” Twin Peaks manager Kate Landau says. “Go see a show. That’s it. That’s the marketing.”

Anyone who claims rock is dead probably hasn’t been to a Twin Peaks show.

“I truly felt like my life was re-saved by rock and roll that night,” longtime agent Ethan Berlin, now of Paradigm Talent Agency, says when recalling his first time seeing the band, at Chicago recording studio and DIY venue The Observatory in late 2012. “It was just so painfully obvious that this was a great band.”

Though only in their mid-20s, the members of Twin Peaks have been touring for nearly a decade, since they began honing their loose, melodious brand of garage rock on native Chicago’s DIY circuit, and their connection goes back even further.

“They’ve known each other since kindergarten,” says Red Light Management’s Kate Landau, who signed on as manager after being stunned by a March 2014 gig at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. “That kind of chemistry, you can’t make it up. They blew me away the first time. … It was just very immediate, which is not normal for me.”

While Cadien James, who plays guitar and sings in the band, jokes that they’ve “been winging it the whole time,” Twin Peaks has become one of today’s can’t-miss rock bands with the old-school, organic approach of touring like crazy, staging unforgettable shows and forming deep bonds with their team.

“Touring is the single most important thing for this band,” Landau says. “The biggest marketing tool we have is putting them in front of people at a show. Go see a show. That’s it. That’s the marketing.” 

Where some acts get picky about things like routing and support tours, Twin Peaks has embraced most opportunities to come its way.

“We’ve never been too precious, even from the beginning,” says Berlin, who secured Twin Peaks opening slots for artists including Wilco, Spoon and Shakey Graves early on. “We’ve started to get more [offers for] Americana-leaning festivals. You don’t think of this brash rock band as something that works in that space, but it does.”

It’s all part of what Berlin describes as a strategy to put Twin Peaks “in front of audiences that might not seem obvious at first,” which he says has worked because “the heart of Twin Peaks is that they’re just great songwriters.” 

Berlin, who also represents buzzy trio Khruangbin, likens Twin Peaks to The Band, because both are similarly decentralized; four of Twin Peaks’ five members sing and write songs.

“It keeps you guessing all the time,” he says. Adds Landau: “They have an irresistible energy – that was the first thing that I was drawn to. Multiple guys singing, just the way they interact with each other on stage. It was very raw, and it still is.”

For their fourth studio album, Lookout Low, out Sept. 13, Twin Peaks wanted to bottle that kinetic live energy in the studio. To that end, the band teamed with an outside producer for the first time, selecting Ethan Johns, who produced Kings of Leon’s first three albums and has worked with Paul McCartney and Tom Jones, to helm the LP.

“He does everything live,” James says. “That was daunting for us, but we also decided to work with him because, like, ‘Hey, that sounds like the right challenge for us. People say we’re a good live band – let’s prove it to ourselves.’”

Unlike their other records, James says Twin Peaks “really learned the songs” on Lookout Low before hitting the studio. That’ll translate to the band’s coming tour.

“We understand our songs a lot more than we did, coming off of new records,” he says. “We really feel oiled on these new songs, and also we get to stretch out more. It’s a little more improv. … The energy is still there, but the musicianship has grown, and I think we’re more adventurous and more thoughtful.”

When Twin Peaks hits the road in the coming weeks, it’ll be with Chicago acts including Dehd, Lala Lala, Post Animal and Ohmme, the duo who sing backup throughout Lookout Low and will join Twin Peaks during the band’s sets. “That’s really fun to have an eclectic mix of artists with us over the course of the tour that are all friends of ours from home,” James says. “I think that’ll bleed over to the crowd, because we’re just a bunch of friends doing a show together everywhere we go.”

The Twin Peaks team was conservative with fall booking, securing rooms likely to sell out; the band is plotting a secondary market tour in the spring and another subsequent tour of larger rooms in major markets. But the modest fall routing contains a notable exception: Chicago’s 2,500-capacity Riviera Theatre, where the band will play its biggest headlining show yet Nov. 29.

“The goal here is to make a statement that we are a big band from Chicago,” Berlin says. “Certainly we could’ve gone and done a multi-night run at somewhere like a Metro or a Thalia Hall and made a lot more money.” (Twin Peaks’ highest-grossing report in Pollstar’s Boxoffice database is a sold-out three-night 2017 New Year’s stand at the latter that moved 2,799 tickets and grossed $81,655.)

“We played there once, opening for Arctic Monkeys in 2013, which is super fucking weird,” James says. “We had a bunch of tiny amps in front of their huge stacks. I remember saying, ‘Hey, we’re from the neighborhood!’ And only like 50 people knew who we were.”

Twin Peaks will now headline the Riviera – and it’s far from the last show of that size they’ll stage. Explains Berlin: “The type of show they put on, though it’s obviously great for a small club or a bar where everyone can jump on top of each other, they write big anthems, so it works in big spaces.” s