Band Twiddle Talks Friendship, Band Advice and New Tunes Before the Show
To gear up for Twiddle’s April 25 show at the High Dive and the subsequent release of their new album, Plump: Chapters 1 & 2, we talked to bassist Zdenek Gubb about the new album, some of the band’s influences, the importance of friendship and how they pull off their live shows so well.
First, the new album: Plump: Chapter One was released in 2015 and, though the band had a double album in mind from the beginning, some things just didn’t make it into that release. With “Chapters 1 & 2” releasing on April 28, all the things that weren’t in Plump 1 will be on Plump 2. Let the rejoicing commence.
So, who is Twiddle anyway? It isn’t uncommon for the band to be compared to epic names like Widespread Panic, Phish, Moe and Umprey’s McGee. That’s high praise, so what does the band think about it?
“I never like to compare us to any other music, but for someone who’s never heard us, to give a quick understanding of what it’s sort of about, I think those are pretty good bands to compare,” says Gubb. “I wouldn’t say that we strive to be like that, but we’re honestly influence by those bands, so I think it’s fair to say that.”
Twiddle really shines at outdoor music festivals where their big sound has plenty of room to flow and fans are well into their weekend-long vacation from the rest of the world.
Speaking of fans, this is a band who’s got one hell of a motivated fanbase. Many affectionately refer to themselves as “Twiddiots” and there’s a website dedicated to tracking the band’s set lists while they’re on tour.
When asked how if feels to first realize that people are organizing around being a fan of your music, Gubb happily summed it up into one word: amazing.
It’s more than just amazing though.
“You never get to choose your fans,” he continued. “They chose us and we really lucked out with this sort of vibe that’s been created organically.”
“In our line of business, there’s often not a lot of room made for friendship. It kind of can be a cutthroat business.”
There’s a wide range of age groups that turn out for the show, which speaks to the music’s appeal and great range of style. Plump 1 & 2 has a spread of storytelling, groovy rock, spacey melody, jivin’ dub and according to Gubb, there are a couple of songs that were improvised in the studio.
Twiddle recorded this album “basically on a farm with fields and cows outside of the studio’s windows,” said Gubb. The tracks are recorded with live takes that keep the organic vibe of their music, while still allowing studio additions that you won’t likely see on stage.
If you’ve been keeping up with Gainesville’s music scene for any number of years, you’ll know that we have a habit of producing bands who play at music festivals.
Twiddle absolutely crushes in those settings, so I asked Gubb what he would say to local musicians who are trying to do what they have done, based on his own experience.
“In our line of business, there’s often not a lot of room made for friendship. It kind of can be a cutthroat business,” he said. “That’s not at all true for us. Something that someone once said to me is ‘I think a big part of what’s gotten us to the point that we’re at is because we’ve trusted each other and we’ve become such good friends.’” said Gubb.
Gubb elaborated, saying, “Having that connection and being with the people that you trust and care about, and having a similar vision, is one of the most important things. Obviously practice, working hard and being on time, […] everything that goes with good work ethic is important, but […] opening your mind to new things is super important too.”
That goes for the band as a whole as much as for any individual person, explains Gubb. “To have sick musicians is awesome, but if you can’t really jive personally with each other, then it can only go so long.”
I couldn’t resist an opportunity to drill into some technical questions while I had an open line, so before wrapping up, we talked about some of Twiddle’s methods and preferences on stage.
To help guide their improvised jams and to keep their own spirits up during the show, there’s a mic on stage that sometimes has a “Twiddle” license plate hanging from it: the talkback mic.
This only goes to their monitors and isn’t audible to the crowd, so if someone has a direction they want to go during a jam they can talk to each other more easily. If they’re having trouble getting loose on stage and the mood seems to be sinking, it can be a good place to make fart noises or friendly jabs at each other when someone makes a mistake.
As for Gubb’s personal gear, he let us in on how exactly he gets that synthy “wah” sound, like at the end of their song Brick of Barley.
“I use a Boss octave pedal with a drive to get a sort of distorted sound, and that goes into a Boss multi-effects, an ME-50B that has a resonance setting, and together that acts kind of like a “wah.”” he said. “Every “wah” for a bass that I’ve ever used puts this high-pass filter on, so you lose a lot of the bass, but with this resonance setting, you don’t lose any of that. Combining two pedals together is how I create that sound.”
There’s a lot to hear and a lot to watch on Tuesday, and it’s hard to see Twiddle live and not walk away as a fan.
Twiddle’s Gainesville show is on Tuesday, April 25, just a few days before the release of Plump: Chapters 1 & 2 at the end of this month.
They’ll be performing at High Dive; tickets are $12 in advance and $14 on the day of show. Doors open at 9pm and show time is 10pm.