Walking into Lee’s Palace on Saturday, April 22 for the Buzz Records showcase felt like the end of a marathon – footsore and exhilarating. At least, I thought it did until I had a chance to catch up with Twist’s Laura Hermiston after their set. A bartender at the Garrison, another Canadian Music Week venue, Laura had spent the week slinging drinks until 4AM last call, with a stint on stage on the final night of CMW as the cherry on top. Turns out I had it easy, with my 3 AM bedtime and loosely structured daylight hours. (I usually go to bed at 10, so 3 AM is a Big Deal for me).
Laura’s sophomore project, Twist, took the stage at Lee’s Palace after an opening set from the garage-punk band, PONY. The Toronto four-piece wove their way through a combination of new and unreleased material (is a new album in the works? Keep reading to find out!) as well as tracks from their debut album Spectral, blending their signature garage feel with downtempo intervals and absorbed instrumental solos. The clean and reflective sound of Twist’s recorded work was replaced on stage by a looser and sludgier style, priming the audience for the darkly psychedelic Vallens, Casper Skulls, and a headlining performance by Weaves.
Psst! Casper Skulls made our list for the Top 8 Acts at Canadian Music Week. Check it out!
Twist closed their set with a mercurial rendition of their single “Calendar Girls” (listen below) and I made my way through the crowd to the stage door, where I had agreed to meet with Laura before the show.
Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, Laura and I stepped outside to talk about CMW, the London music scene, Spectral, and Twist’s growth as a band.
After regaling me with stories of her stay at a motel across the street from London’s illustrious Beef Baron following Twist’s first house show (shout out to the Foam Dome), Laura expounded on Twist’s desire to play larger venues like Lee’s Palace.
See for yourself! Indie Underground photographer Michelle Balderston snapped some great shots of Twist and the rest of the Buzz Records showcase at Lee’s Palace. Check them out.
Twist’s CMW set was energetic and engaging, something Laura concedes doesn’t always happen at larger venues, but which is commonplace at house shows. While the bright lights and professional sound systems of established venues like Lee’s Palace are tempting, Laura freely admits that in some cities, house shows are “just the way to go”. The DIY approach and intimate environment are always preferable to playing an empty house at a large venue, which Laura described as both difficult and boring. “It’s really easy to get involved with house shows”, Laura advises anyone hoping to attend or get involved in their local scene.
After chatting about the relative age of house show attendees, we switched gears to talk about Spectral and how Twist has matured over the years:
“Because of our experience being in a band and recording, we all keep getting better gear, and we’re more self sufficient and we know what we want before we get into studios. I feel like we are a bit more professional than we probably were when were like 19. But there are f***ing amazing talented 19 years who kill it and it blows my mind.” tweet
Spectral took three years to record, evolving over the course of those years as Laura wrote and re-mixed many of the songs herself:
“I was writing and recording for the fun of it over three years, and then Buzz came along and was like “do you have a record?” and I was like “….yes”. I made it so that I could combine songs that had been recorded, and touched them up a bit to make it a cohesive record.” tweet
Building on their maturity and forward momentum, Laura teased that Twist is working on a new album, which they’re writing together as a band. “All the songs are being recorded in the same time frame, and I’m so excited about that,” says Laura.
Read the rest of the transcript from my interview with Laura Hermiston to get the full story on Twist’s upcoming album and learn more about what it was like to produce Spectral:
Steph: Do you have any idea when you’re going to release [the new] record?
Laura: Yep. A full record, June 2018. A single this spring/summer. I guess summer since it’s like already spring. And an EP in the fall – that’s what we’d like to do.
Steph: I read online that you felt a little lonely while you were writing Spectral.
Laura: Well, I feel like sometimes I get caught up in going out and not having people come to my house and record. But there are some people that I’ve met on the road who do that and it’s awesome. I guess I feel like that because I still technically have a core band and I wasn’t sure what I was doing with the project, and I just felt like ‘what am I doing? This started off so fun and now it’s become something I’m taking seriously and I don’t know what I’m doing?’.
Steph: Do you have any advice for young people who might feel the same way?
Laura: Stop partying and stay home and record and write! And practice! Don’t get caught up drinking and doing drugs, and don’t play too many shows – I take that back. Really, you have to work really hard and you have to be smart about what you do. Or you’re one of the lucky bands who don’t have to do any of that.
Steph: Are you touring anytime soon?
Laura: No, I need time to write and record. We just got back from tour about a month ago. We went down to South by Southwest.
Steph: How was that? I’ve always wanted to go.
Laura: So good! Just f***ing doing it. Go on an Airbnb with people. It was like spring break for people who like music. It’s in mid-March and I was friggin’ hot, and I did not have shorts.
Spring break for music lovers? I’m there.
Big thanks to Laura Hermiston for taking the time to chat with Indie Underground!