Words by Kevin Duffel, photography by Blair Alley
Unless you're a deranged, self-obsessed kind of guy with a severe Napoleon complex, hearing your own voice echo back at you from the stereo speakers, mid-coitus, is a total bummer. Especially when the girl you're consummating your love to is responsible for having pushed play. (There's a very fine line between groupie and stalker.) While it's a bizarre experience the average person will most likely never live through, according to George Lewis, Jr.—the front man and songwriter of the Brooklyn-based band, Twin Shadow—it's not just a guaranteed way to kill a boner, "it's totally unacceptable."
But it's a malfeasance the singer will most likely have to get used to if he continues to write the kind of music he's so damn good at writing. As if filtered through and then spat straight out the fog machine of an '80s middle school dance, Twin Shadow's tunes might be a more fitting soundtrack to a 2am backseat make out sesh than some high speed Bonnie and Clyde-styled chase with Johnny Law. Dreamy and drenched in smoky atmospherics, 2010’s Forget is a hook filled, heavy petting-inducing classic. (In other words, if it doesn't help get you laid, then god save ya, buddy.)
Hard at work on his second album, due out in early 2012, George Lewis, Jr. took a break from his exhausting schedule of posing with random chicks for photos to chat to us about skating in dress shoes, why Bob Dylan is the most stylish and badass musician out there, cheese-filled hotdogs, and more.
Slow by Twin Shadow
So you told me earlier that you used to skate. This being TransWorld, what's up with your skateboarding?
Me and my buddy used to push around on boards with filmer wheels on 'em. We used to go to these hospital parking lots in Boston. One time I just got overambitious and went down this insane ramp that was really f—king long, like probably 50 yards long. It was way too steep. I got about half way down and then just fell flat on my face. It was really brutal. That took like a week for me to even be able to walk, basically. So then I was like, "F—k it, I'm still gonna skate." So I was skating, and I skated to some bar that I used to be able to sneak into. And outside, the board got out from under me, and a minivan came by and purposely ran it over. The board went flying in the air in two pieces. I was like, "Ah, f—k it." And my arms hurt, and I had a punk band and we were playing like five shows a week, so I was like, "I can't do this."
How do you feel about skaters using your songs in videos?
There was a kid on YouTube who used "Forget." He obviously didn't pay for it, but I thought it was rad. I was like, "This dude is awesome." He totally ripped.
That kid was Ben Fisher. Ya hear that Ben? Twin Shadow’s down for ya.
I read that you were really confident with the first album, as far as you knew it was good right away. Do you have that same sense of confidence with this album you're working on?
I don't know yet. I'd say I have classic second record blues.
How are you dealing with all the pressures for it, like as far as critics and reviews are concerned? Do you give a shit?
I mean, part of me doesn't give a shit. But you never give a shit until you see a review. And it's more about—well, reviews I feel like, can be about how easy it makes your life, you know? If you get a good review, life is easy. If you get a bad review, your life's a little more complicated. But the pressure's from myself. It's not from how many stars I'm gonna get. I just wanna make a good record. I'll probably freak out when the time comes. But right now the pressure's only coming from myself.
Are you playing all the instruments on this one too?
I'm not sure. I think the keyboarder who I have for the live shows is gonna be more involved. I'm interested in hiring really heavy-duty session players and seeing what happens.
What about the production on this one: Are you thinking about recording it in your hotel room like the last one, or are you gonna go to a proper studio this time around?
I'm not gonna go to a proper studio, but I am gonna rent a house. Probably in Cali.
Castles In The Snow, studio version, by Twin Shadow
You like it over here?
I love it. I grew up in Florida.
Yeah, so it's pretty much the same climate.
Yeah. Except the humidity. It's great. So it does remind me of Florida, but the Florida I always wanted and never had. I love California.
Besides the weather, what else do you like so much about it?
Every time I come to California I get in some weird situation that's so bizarre, and I'm like, "How did that happen? This would never happen in New York." Like, New York, you can go down some pretty dark roads. Like if you go to a bar you don't know and try to talk to someone you usually wouldn't talk to, you can get into a weird situation. But in LA—or in California in general—it's handed to you. This really weird thing just happens.
I had this conversation with someone. It's almost like because you have to drive somewhere, you're more committed, in a way, to getting into something. Like, if you're in Hollywood and some chick takes you to Venice Beach in her car, you're stuck in Venice Beach all night long—or all weekend long. So that's interesting to me. I wanna be out here doing my record in that kind of environment. It's also f—king freezing in New York.
You think it's all fancy studio wizardry and shit? Hell no. Twin Shadow kills it five million percent harder live. Watch this Jimmy Fallon performance of Castles In The Snow for proof.
On a different note, how important do you think style or image is with music?
I mean, I think it's super important. But I think there are certain people who get away with not needing it. On a mainstream, like superstar level, of course it's important. What star hasn't had style? It's everything, you know? I mean, would you say Kurt Cobain had no style? No. He had tons of style. There's almost no such thing as no style.
Yeah, I think that's the same with skating, too. Sometimes it feels like the dudes who are kinda lifestyle icons are the ones who go the furthest.
Yeah. That's because skating's become a business in a way. If you want to survive in it—just like music—then you have to kinda play a game. But if you're not interested in the game, then don't be in the game.
Do you ever get bummed out when people talk about your image rather than your music though?
I don't think my image is that extravagant that they'd only talk about that. I'm not like Lady Gaga.
Yet, yeah exactly [laughs]. But, I dunno, I love that shit. I'd rather people just talk to me about clothes than music. I mean, not that I know tons of shit about clothes either, but no, that's something I'm super interested in. I'd love to have my own clothing line.
So that said, I know that skating's kinda everywhere right now, as far as fashion blogs, fashion campaigns, and all this other shit goes. How do you feel about that? In New York you've gotta see it a lot, like Supreme and all those kinds of stores.
Yeah, I guess Supreme's all over again. It was in the '90s and now it is again. Odd Future resurrected that shit. I think it's cool. When I skated I used to wear—my buddy Ricky always brings this up—but I used to go play basketball and then we'd go skating. This is in Florida. I had a pair of black and gold board shorts. I'd wear board shorts and I'd wear my church shoes to go skating in. So I wore out right where my pinky toe is. It was sticking out. But I'd wear that. And my buddy Dave, who was the most amazing skater, kinda had all the boxes checked, in terms of skater-look. And I always envied him. I always wanted that. But I felt comfortable skating in my shit, even though I looked like a f—king fool. So, I dunno if I ever really loved it—but skater style now is a little different.
Yeah, now it's whatever you wanna make it. There's no real look.
Yeah, it's a free for all. And that's sweet. And now black kids are skating. It's amazing. I love it now. Who's the skater who dresses like a total hippy? Like bellbottoms and shit?
Oh, Richie Jackson.
Yeah. I saw that dude in a video and I was like, "This is awesome, there's diversity now." It's cool. There's no such thing as skate style anymore.
If you could share the stage with anyone, who would you choose? Who's the most stylish motherf—cker out there?
Well, James Brown is dead. But believe it or not, Bob Dylan. I think Bob Dylan's always been one of the most stylish dudes ever. He always had something going on. He looks like an old worn out cowboy now, but that works for him. That's what I like about him. He always evolves. It's good. I shouldn't diss Duran Duran—they're still doing their thing—but I went and saw them in New York, and it's so funny watching them. They were all wearing sneakers, like New Balance or something, with boot cut Euro bleached-thigh jeans, and like ill-fitting button-up shirts untucked, with their bellies pushing out the bottom. And tons of gel in their hair. I was just like, "You dudes either go completely retro with your look, or I dunno, don't look like you're some asshole smoking cigars at a shitty bar in Ibiza."
[Laughs] I guess too, I wanna say your music's a little bit—I guess it's weird to say—but it's sexy in a way. Like you could totally make out with a chick in the back of your car to it. So, what would happen if you were hooking up with a girl and she put on your tunes?
Like during? Well, that has happened. It's happened and it's totally unacceptable.
It just kills the boner?
Yeah. I mean I go on tons of power trips. I have that Napoleon complex for sure. But I certainly don't need to hear myself singing while I'm doing my thing.
So for the last one—the most important one—so answer it correctly. If you were a hotdog and starving, would you eat yourself?
If I was a hotdog and I was starving… that's hard, man. It's weird, I've been a vegetarian and I've been a meat eater, and I'm a meat eater right now, and I've never ever liked hotdogs. Ever.
But you're starving.
Okay. If I was a cheese-filled hotdog, yes.
Dude. My buddy's mom… we used to go over to his house and play Mario—the first Mario—and he was such a f—king spazz, that I'd come over and he'd be spazzing out on the Mario, and I would just be all sweet talking with his mom, and she'd be like, "Oh George, let me put some cheesy hotdogs in the toaster for you." I wanna see one of those dirty job documentaries on how they make that shit.
For more Twin Shadow, go to twinshadow.net