10 QUESTIONS WITH TWIN FORKS’ CHRIS CARRABBA
TODAY AT ALL THE WRITE NOTES, I WELCOME CHRIS CARRABBA, FOR 10 QUESTIONS WITH… TWIN FORKS. BEST KNOWN FOR DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL, CHRIS IS CURRENTLY THE LEAD SINGER BEHIND THE FOLK BAND, TWIN FORKS. I CHATTED WITH CHRIS ABOUT WRITING, THEIR UPCOMING ALBUM, AND THE AGE OLD QUESTION…STAR WARS vs STAR TREK.
After Twin Forks blew people away at SXSW last year, there was a sense that this collaboration came out of nowhere. But anyone who has created anything knows that’s just an illusion from the outside looking in. How did this new collaboration get started?
Twin Forks started an imperfect but valiant plan to chase down some of our earliest influences and try to put our own spin on a very traditional template of songwriting. Jonathan, Ben, and I worked with wild abandon to try to infuse the fun we were having together into the songs themselves. Later, when Suzie joined us for a live date, the nature of the songs became even more apparent to us.
Speaking of the collaboration, when you started playing live together, was there ever a sense that it was just meant to be?
Well, because of our various commitments we started out by saying “we can have as much fun as possible, but we are not going to be a band”. After one show on stage together we looked at each other and said “….well…we’re a band!” I guess that means it was meant to be.
Now with all of you coming from different projects, what’s it been like playing your new music together, and experiencing that rush of a new crowd?
We are so glad that we are earning a fan base. We believe very much in this music and have been taking great care to make sure that we are not presenting as an extension of our other projects. We feel like the songs and the band will, and should, earn their own fans separate from the things we may be known best for. We are lucky that many of the fans of our other projects are there to listen to the music and we are lucky if they connect to it…but we feel luckiest when they share it with their friends.
The excitement, and fear, of change can be a real catalyst to push boundaries of comfort when it comes to your own routine. Did you find this to be true when you sat down to write, and compose, tracks for Twin Forks?
I am not sure that fear of change entered into it but certainly the excitement of new territory to explore innately felt expansive. The best acts of writing feel like an adventure and not a chore. This has been an adventure.
Your Self Titled debut EP, released in September, has a real live feel to it. Were you conscious of this from the beginning, and if so, how did you attempt to keep a live feel to it while in the studio recording?
We have a directed effort to forgo the relatively sterile approach to recording where the members might be playing at different times, or if they are playing at the same time they may be separated into different rooms. We record all of the tracks when the songs are still only hours old. No one has any idea what another player might do, and may only have the slightest sense of what they themselves will do. This approach leads to some mistakes that are committed to the recording but mostly bring out a level of excitement and the sounds of true joy laid down to the track. Sure you can hear the drums if you were to solo my vocal or guitar track… but who is going to do that? Moreover what I love in the tracks are the moments where I might have hooted or whistled or shouted my enthusiasm for someones part or idea. There are moments where we have claps..because someone started clapping instead of playing..there are laughs that are the result of who knows what but make the tenor of the song so much more alive. There is so much joy on this record and you can hear us feeling that joy in real time.
I can’t go any further without asking you about your fantastic cover of Taylor Swift’s “Mean”, which we featured at All The Write Notes. How did that come about, and whose idea was it? Do you know if Taylor has heard it?
I have no idea if Taylor has heard it. I am afraid to ask her! I am a fan of hers and she is a fan of mine. We have spent a little time together and she is of the rarest kind of celebrity. She has so much talent and energy yet she has a genuine interest in the world around her not the world that revolves around her. I remember seeing the video for “mean” and feeling so moved. I have been covering it since it came out. That song, as so many of hers do, speaks so eloquently yet so plainly that the power of every feeling she is singing of is imbued into the listener as if the feeling is their own. What a rare talent that is.
From an outsider’s point of view, it appears the response to your collaborations traditional folk sound has been amazing. Were any of the band members worried at any point there might be some resistance to your new sound from your established fans?
From established fans? Not really. We were and are aware that there will be those that are among are existing fan bases that don’t connect with what we are doing here, but we have faith enough in them to know that they won’t hate us for it. What we did begin to become aware of, not necessarily concerned about but aware of, was that while we were secretly working diligently on this project, a few bands would come along and change the landscape of music, leading to a folk resurgence we weren’t expecting. We look at that very much as a lucky turn. Those bands have helped open some ears for bands like ours and helped to give us a chance to, at least, be listened to and then judged, as opposed to being judged as soon as some twangy instrument or another enters the song.
I could talk about the bands and authors who inspire my writing for hours. Is there anyone that’s been a big influence on your traditional folk sound, and songwriting?
The author that most inspires me is Cormac McCarthy. His use of language is completely visceral. The television creator/writer/producer David Milch is another master of language. These two men have created works that, for me, seem to never reveal all of their greatness no matter how many times I reread or repeatedly read them.
Harold And The Purple Crayon
One Book…One Band….(that you would like to recommend)
I am sure you have seen the movie but you need to read this book; No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.
It is hard to recommend only one band but Cory Brannan is a bad motherfucker. You should listen to him.
One last questions…Star Wars or Star Trek?
(let me preempt my answer by saying that every fool knows that Empire Strikes Back and The Wrath Of Khan are insurmountable in their perfection. However prequels and sequels have sullied the larger works in general, though Picard himself may have been able to pull Trek out of that column if it weren’t for that bloody awful Insurection,)
So my answer is: Firefly/Serenity
A big thanks to Chris Carrabba for stopping by A.T.W.N. to chat. Twin Forks debut E.P. is available to purchase here, and their self-titled debut full length album is out February 25th on Dine Alone Records, and can be pre-ordered here.