By John Benson
In order for Louisiana group Twin Killers to tour this summer, the progressive rock act had to sort of sell its soul.
Normally the quintet won’t do any covers; however, when the opportunity came for the relatively new outfit to earn some major bucks playing some pop music, they couldn’t resist.
“We played Miley Cyrus, Madonna and Cee Lo songs at a Victoria’s Secret lingerie show,” said guitarist Andrew Martin, calling from Baton Rouge. “We learned the songs in one day. It was fun enough to pretend like we weren’t what we were. It was definitely a one-off thing and will never happen again. That show paid for us to go on tour. So that’s why we’ll actually be in Youngstown.”
Whereas the money paid for Twin Killers’ current jaunt, it was the suggestion of Syracuse, N.Y -based act Summer People to their friends in Cleveland-based band Hot Cha Cha to book the Louisiana band’s debut Ohio show Saturday at Cedars in Youngstown. Over the past year, things have been moving steadily forward for the five-piece, which last summer released its first EP, “Lemon Heart Opera.” So far the group has been described as sounding close to The Mars Volta.
“We’re definitely not as freeform,” Martin said. “A lot of our parts are very structured as far as like repetitions, whereas The Mars Volta is more jamm-y than we are. Also, our vocals are high pitched and all over the place, while the guitar is doing a different melody at all times. We’re kind of all always playing off each other rather than with each other.”
Actually, Martin admits he’s more into progressive bands such as Mahavishnu Orchestra and even, um, Yes. You have to give him credit considering not too many young groups these days are name checking the work of Jon Anderson and company.
“They were the band my dad tried to show me my whole life, and I hated it,” Martin said. “Then all of a sudden I saw this light and it kind of took over my life. So yeah, that was a big inspiration as far as like long songs that never really have a verse or chorus and are always just kind of taking you to a new spot and on an adventure.”
An adventure is exactly what Twin Killers has been on recently, having played 11 shows at the South By Southwest Music Festival, as well as undertaking a few minor tours. Up next the group is hoping to record another studio project. In fact, the band just released a new single “Two Fridas,” which Martin said gives hints to the group’s future sound.
“That’s definitely more like Blonde Redhead with a full orchestra including violins, a cello and a viola,” Martin said. “It’s way more accessible and easier to take in. ‘Lemon Heart Opera’ is a very guitar album. Whereas on this new track, I just wanted to stand in the back and push the vocals up to the front and the melody, rather than doing this like firework guitar stuff all of the time.”
As far as the band’s set is concerned, “Lemon Heart Opera” tunes will be played. As for any covers, what if the Cedars audience takes up a collection to hear Twin Killers, named after the Deerhoof song, bust out some Cee Lo?
“I don’t know, I guess if they really, really, really want it,” Martin laughed. “But somebody else will have to sing it. I’m not going to put our singer through that again.”