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Local Q&A: Twin Peaks

MusicSmith Westerns (music group)Deer Tick (music group)

Considering the youngsters in Twin Peaks tend to write songs about weed, girls and hanging out at the beach, it's little surprise the band claims "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" stoner Jeff Spicoli as an idol.

"We're just some rock 'n roller dudes," said singer/guitarist and current Rogers Park resident Cadien James. "We smoke pot, and we dropped out of school to pursue music, and I think that's just the attitude that comes along with all that."

Still, don't confuse the frontman's laid-back demeanor with a lack of ambition. Twin Peaks self-released its full-length debut, the beautifully scuzzy "Sunken," in the summer of '12, following with an East Coast tour that found the garage rockers playing a grueling 19 house shows in 21 days.

All hard work is finally paying off, however. In addition to landing high-profile slots opening for the likes of Deer Tick and Beach Fossils, a reissue of the group's debut is forthcoming on Autumn Tone and a proper release show will take place July 24 at Schubas.

In a recent phone conversation, James, 19, opened up about the Chicago band that inspired his earliest songs, his favorite movies to watch while toking and the reason Chance the Rapper could have a lucrative second career as a fortune teller.

For a young band, you guys already have spent a significant amount of time on tour. What's the strangest thing you've experienced on the road?

We chilled with a prostitute and her pimp a couple days ago. We didn't utilize any of their services, but we were smoking weed with them at some motel. That was definitely really, really weird. Certain people were stoned and freaked out, and others were a little tipsy and just laughing at it. But it was pretty far out and wacko and weird.

Most of the press surrounding the band makes at least some mention of weed. Do you really smoke that often?

Yeah. I've been smoking heavy for a couple years, and we all partake a little bit--some more than others. I'm not a very good lyric writer, so I spend a lot of time writing about pot and babes because that's all I spent my time doing as a teenager in high school.

Do you have a favorite stoner film?

Jack [Dolan], our bassist, is saying "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." I did just watch "A Boy and His Dog" with our guitarist Clay [Frankel], and that's a real good stoner flick. Also, we named the band Twin Peaks before we watched the show, but I'm a big fan of David Lynch. That's some good stoner stuff.

Has Lynch ever reached out to you guys about the name?

No. I don't think he's aware of us at this point, but we're going to send a copy of the vinyl to his office when it comes out and say, "Hey man, we used the name. Hope we have your blessing."

You mentioned you're not all that confident in your lyrics. Does that explain why some of the vocals tend to be a little more obscured?

I don't know. I've always been a big fan of lo-fi music. My brother Hal played with Smith Westerns for awhile, and right when I started writing music they came out with their first album, which was real scuzzy, bedroom-recorded [bleep]. I haven't thought about it much. It's definitely a stylistic thing, but maybe it's also a self-conscious thing.

It's interesting your brother played with Smith Westerns considering you're compared with them so often.

Yeah. He was a touring drummer with them for a couple years. It's something that was around me when I started writing songs, so that was inspiring to one extent. I love their first album, but a lot of times I think we get that comparison because we're both young bands that came out of Chicago. They definitely inspired me to do this with my life, though, that's for sure.

You also recently posted an Instagram photo from a day you spent hanging out with Chance the Rapper. Was there any talk of collaboration?

I'll tell you what, man, he used to ask us for beats all the time back in the day. We actually went to the same high school [Jones College Prep], and me and Jack got the same suspension as him--the one he wrote his first mixtape ["10 Day"] about. It's a funny story. We were getting handcuffed and Chance looked at me and said, "We're both going to be famous someday."

Twin Peaks, 9 p.m. July 24 at Schubas. $10.

Cadien James personality test
Last album you bought? "What did I buy last on vinyl? Oh, Clay bought 'London Calling' by the Clash last week."
Song you've listened to on repeat recently? "Can we just put Chance's 'Acid Rap' in full? We play that in the van all the time."
Song you never want to hear again? "Connor [Brodner] just said [Twisted Sister's] 'We're Not Gonna Take It,' but I'll hear that any day. I like most songs. I'm trying to think of one we really hate. I'll throw this out there: I never want to hear any Blink-182 ever again. They're all booing me now, but I [bleeping] hate them."
Best concert you've seen in the last year? "Naomi Punk puts on a ridiculous live show."
New band you don't know personally that deserves to be big? "Cherry Glazer has a cool sound. We've been digging on them recently."
Favorite movie ever? "Oh, man. I like 'Labyrinth.' That movie is my jam. And for the band throw in 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High.' That's a band favorite for sure."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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