ACL

ACL: An Interview with Twen

todayOctober 21, 2022 66 6

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By Maddy Lehr

Last weekend, I had the absolute honor of speaking with one of my favorite bands, Twen. Just a few months ago, they released their sophomore album, One Stop Shop. Avery, another assistant music director, and I sat down with Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones to talk about the new album.

Maddy: How was the band formed?

Jane: We both went to school in Boston, and we were both in separate bands. Then, they both broke up, and we graduated. I moved away not knowing what to do, and we wrote over the phone and sent voice memos to each other and started writing from afar. Then, I came back because it felt so good, and we started the band in Boston because we knew the most people there, like a random house venue. I feel like we knew all the bands. Ian lived across the street, and his whole band lived in the house. It was easy to book shows, it was easy to record. Then we played our first show, recorded it, and then went to Nashville immediately. We left, got out of there. In Boston, you could age out pretty quickly.

Ian: It’s a big college town so it turns over quickly.

Jane: In our friend group, people were moving away. It felt weird, we didn’t know where the house venues were anymore. We just felt called to leave, and I was so glad we did. Nashville is a great music town, a great touring town, so we immediately started touring the minute we moved there, which was not really an option in Boston. Rent is expensive, and it’s just harder to do stuff.

Ian: I feel like Twen came out of the backend of our college life, and was the thing that
transitioned us out of being college kids.

Jane: Yeah, that weird time after college, and you’re like what am I going to do?

Ian: When we started Twen we were like, let’s just see, like, let’s not care if it’s good or not. Let’s just do it, give this a shot and if it goes well keep doing it, and if it doesn’t then alright fine.

Jane: It was full steam ahead even though we may not have gotten everything figured
out. It was like, let’s tour, we don’t have any recorded music. Who cares? And that worked for us I think.

Ian: That’s really it. We moved to Nashville with a four-piece lineup and those two guys left the band after a year and a half. We’ve been going through musicians. Lots of musicians have been in and out of the band for the past few years, but now we have a nice lineup.

Avery: Where did you get the name Twen?

Jane: I went to school for graphic design, so I was in the Boston Public Library. I was going through old design books, and Twen is a German magazine in the 70s. It’s slang for people in their youth, twen like twenties.

Ian: It was a post-World War II, west German magazine, so on the western half of the Berlin wall. It was a graphic design, sexy/musical magazine.

Jane: They had printed records as well. Now we’ve started collecting the records
because they have the logo on it. That’s actually where we took our logo from.

Ian: The magazine ran from 1959-1971, and then it stopped being printed in Germany. Nobody has ever thought about it until us, and so we lifted the logo, the name, the aesthetic. Very few people ask us about that though. Eventually it’ll come out and people will be like, oh they’re named after the magazine.

Jane: It makes it fun for us to find the records.

Ian: When we were thumbing through the graphic design book, there was an advertisement for fur coats. In German it said “Twen furs”, like fur coats by Twen magazine. So we named our band Twen Furs and then we dropped the furs and just went with Twen.

Maddy: That’s so awesome! It’s like a little secret. Moving on, you guys have released some music videos recently, what’s that process like?

Jane: Oh man I love music videos. It’s my favorite thing to do. With the first music video with the dirtbikes that we played up on the screen today, that was my first idea for a video. We had a budget to help facilitate it, but I actually edited it. I love our cinematographer, Casey Pierce, who’s based in Nashville. He handles all of the camerawork, but it’s so great to work with him to take care of the side that I can’t do.

Ian: He’s got all the lenses and the technical ideas.

Jane: I just come to him with ideas and how much time we’ve got, and then I’ll edit everything, which makes it cheaper. It just feels like another way to visually express since I don’t do as much design work because we’re doing this all the time.

Ian: There’s another one coming out in the next week or two. I think it’s going to be my favorite.

Jane: Yeah, there’s tech personality spoofs because everyone in our band looks like someone who’s in tech. We’ve got Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elizabeth Holmes, Jeff Bezos. I have to edit that one on the road, but I’m super excited!

Maddy: Cool, that’s so exciting! So the new album recently came out, what was the inspiration for that?

Ian: I think the inspiration was to do it purely for us. We’re going to write, be creative, we’re not going to care what people think of it. We needed to reconnect with the creative side. We knew we didn’t want to repeat the last record.

Jane: During COVID, we were listening to a lot of what we listened to in high school.

Ian: I think when you graduate high school, you go off and do whatever you do in college. Then, it’s a period of expansion in your life where you’re trying new things and listening to new music. I felt like when we hit our late twenties and the pandemic happened, it came full circle. For the past 10 years, I’ve been trying all these things, but nothing is lighting me up anymore. Then you rediscover what lit you up when you were a kid. I think that’s what that record was for us. It was about making something that was immediate, and you didn’t have to think too hard about it. You’d just hear the song, and
by the end of it you know how it goes, it’s catchy, there’s a good hook, and you know
what it’s about.

Maddy: What’s your favorite song on the album?

Jane: I really like “Automation.” I feel like that may be the dark horse. It’s really weird, and I could argue not cool, but I really like it. And I get to scream.

Ian: I think I would go with “One Stop Shop.” I just really love that song.

Avery: I think right now we’re spinning “HaHaHome,” and “Fortune 500.”

Jane: “Fortune 500” did a little better than we expected. We didn’t release that one as a single.

Ian: The fans choose the singles, and they’re choosing “Fortune 500.”

Maddy: My personal favorite is “Long Throat,” so tell us about that song.

Jane: I think that one started as a voice memo, the chorus. Then, I think Ian came up with the bass line, and that bass line is the whole entire song. It gives it the stability for it to go crazy.

Ian: The song goes in many different places. There’s so many different sections of that song, but you don’t necessarily realize it because the bass line is just repeating. It’s a pretty radical arrangement in terms of how many parts and hooks there are. But it just flows, so you may not even realize. A part of the production was to have each section of the song sound like you’re walking into a different room. The drum sound in the intro is different from the first verse, which is different from the chorus. You can listen to the room change. There’s all that change, but there’s still the bass line.

Jane: I think the lyrics of that song are almost like yearning. That’s something that
comes out naturally to me.

Avery: I think yearning is something that not enough people do. I think we all need to yearn a little bit. Also, follow-up question: if you were a flavor, realistically, what would you be?

Ian: Tart cherry.

Jane: A little bitter but sweet. What would I be?

Ian: You’re the staple of all staples. The cream of the crop.

Jane: So creamed corn. I’ll be creamed corn.

Featured Image by Maddy Lehr.

Written by: Autumn McGowan

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