Brass, Double Bass, and Breaching New Atmospheres: Gear Talk With Twin Haus

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  • November 13, 2017
Twin Haus

Twin Haus have never been ones to hold back from pushing themselves to penetrate new creative realms, and their latest project is a testament to this will.

The Brisbane four-piece craft endlessly interesting and expansive music that sits somewhere within the scope of math rock, post-rock, and experimental pop. Following up their brilliant 2016 EP, Nothing Lavish, the band have been hard at work tinkering away at a debut LP. But before that drops, they’ve gifted with a split 10″ with Melbourne artist Romeo Moon.

Blossoming from a single riff, the project was “established upon both artistic consensus and the respect for creative difference,” birthing two different tracks that share a common trajectory while walking their own path. Twin Haus’ contribution, Emperor Oppressor, clocks in at 6 minutes, and sees the band delving into new sonic territory, with double bass, trumpet and sax weaving throughout spectral vocals, creeping guitar work, sprawling percussion, and subtle synth blips.

We had a chat to guitarists Dan and Degs about the collaboration, the new sonic paths that the band are forging, and a newfound affinity for analog synthesisers.

Twin Haus

Chatting with Twin Haus about their collab with Romeo Moon, the sonic paths that the band are forging, and a newfound affinity for analog synths.

Hey guys, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

Degs: We are maxin’ relaxin’ at Bedlam’s studios in Brisbane, QLD. Well into the writing and recording process for our album; keep your ears peeled!

You’ve recently released a split 10-inch with Romeo Moon, which is brilliant. Can you tell us about the concept and recording process behind the two tracks?

Degs: Both the tracks originated from the same riff, which arose in a relaxed jam between Grima and Kev [Romeo Moon]. It was decided that it could be interesting and exciting to explore two different interpretations of the riff, as a result two different journeys came about – Emperor Oppressor and Feelin’.

Dan: We tackled the recording in a sort of funny way I thought but it seemed to work okay. Most of the good stuff happened whilst we were mixing – it was a lot of experimenting with different timbres and instruments and noises, generally, and so we began to stray into places we hadn’t been before. I was definitely most excited the day that we tried some things with our friend Helen, on double bass. We pretty much kept everything she did, it was so cool.

As for Feelin’ (Romeo Moon), Kev likes to nip it in the bud pretty early on. I took a short rip down to Melbourne a month or so after our original jam on the riff and he’d already had it ready for mastering. He is an A-grade wizard I tell you!

There’s is some really interesting ambient instrumentation that runs throughout your side of the release, Emperor Oppressor. What are some pieces of gear that shaped the track?

Degs: There was a nice balance of electronic and acoustic gear on the track. In the acoustic spectrum we had some wonderful contributions from local horn and string players that really helped texture the track melodically and timbre-wise: Helen Svoboda on double bass; Josh Rivory on cello; Tristan Rogers on trumpet; Matt Luff and Julian Palmer on tenor sax. We used a Moog Voyager to add some heady bass tones and highly textured trebles. It is a really beautiful instrument.

Can you run us through what’s on your pedalboards right now?

Degs: For distortions I have a Turbo Rat and an ARC Effects Klone, which is a clone of a Klon Centaur. I use a Malekko Ekko 616 for delay, which is a great analogue pedal. My reverb is covered by a Strymon Blue Sky. Modulation wise I use a EHX Small Stone for chorus, a Blackout Effects Sibling for phaser, a Moog MF Tremolo and (sometimes) a DOD 440 Envelope Filter. I also have a Fromel Compressor, Ernie Ball volume pedal and a tuner.

Dan: Okay, there’s a few doubles of things as we’ve been mixing it up for the recordings we’re working on at the moment but for the most part it’s two drives (J.Everman and Blackstone), delay (Empress and Fairfield Circuitry), some Strymon stuff (Deco and Orbit), Malekko, Topanga and Mercury 7 reverbs, and some other modulation (Boss CE-2, Phase 90 Script).

And you’ve been messing around with some synths recently too – is this something you guys have always dabbled in, or a more recent discovery?

Degs: I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music for a few years now, and that has had a lot of influence on the instrumentation we’ve been using lately. We started messing around with synths a few years ago, and it’s been a journey since then. Everyone in the band owns a synth now, and we all love experimenting with the different moods and atmospheres we can create through synthesised sounds.

What synths have you been using?

Moog Voyager: An amazing 3 oscillator analogue mono synth. Moog Mother-32: Semi-modular analogue single oscillator unit with heaps of sequencing and tone shaping capabilities. DSI [Dave Smith Instruments] Prophet 08: Super lush 8-voice polyphonic analogue synth. DSI [Dave Smith Instruments] Mopho: Mono version of the prophet. Roland JP-08: Interesting and lush sounds in a portable unit perfect for live shows and recording alike.

What was the first pedal you bought – is there a story behind it?

Degs: Not actually 100% sure on this one to be honest, but I think it might have been an MXR Chorus – the little yellow one with one knob. I had a KORG multi-effect board for ages and knew it was time to upgrade. I really liked delay, chorus and reverb effects from the multi-effect unit and made it a mission to get all of them ASAP. I got the chorus first because it was cheapest and I was broke.

What’s your favourite piece of budget gear that you feel you’ve gotten the most out of?

Degs: The Roland TB-3 and TR-8 are fantastic pieces of electronic gear that come at a relatively cheap price when comparing them with other similar units. I got a TR-8 (AIRA update of the 808 and 909) for $250 off Gumtree about 6 months ago and have been using it non-stop since. The TR-3 is a reissue of the classic TR-303 acid bassline monolith. It is bucketloads of fun to play around with and sells for under $200.

You guys pull some really brilliant guitar textures – what do you have on your board that really shapes your sound?

Dan: Thanks dude. I think it was about starting with a sound that had almost infinite headroom, something super clean (I ended up with a Supro Belmont / Zinky Design) so that I could almost always have something on without muddying things up. At the moment it’s pretty much always the Strymon Deco. Occasionally I’ll use the saturation dial to colour it up but I’ve almost always got some sort of warble or tape/slap happening off the other side of it. That and all the reverbs I suppose. Man I can get around reverb hey.

How do you approach your signal chain/routing?

Dan: Nothing too adventurous really, drives at the start – modulation at the end. I’ve got a delay and a spring reverb before the fuzz drive though at the moment. That’s been kind of cool because it seems to confine the sound and the effects and allow parts to sit under Degs’ [Zach] a bit more, which has been nice for these recordings.

Is there anything you’re really hanging out to buy at the moment?

Dan: Yeah I want a vib! But I want a Boss VB-2 and I can’t afford that. Nick [drums, also plays as Digression Buff] just bought one… so that’s pretty cool. Maybe I can use that.

Who are some of your favourite pedal builders?

Dan: At the moment, I’ve probably been using Malekko and Fairfield Circuitry pedals the most liberally. They’re both pretty cool builders and all their stuff seems to be super classy. Chaotic but kind of pretty too?

Do you have any guitar heroes or artists who you feel really nail a sound through their rig?

Degs: Man there are so many tones and guitar lines I have heard over the years that have really inspired me. A few that pop to mind are: Daniel Rossen’s crunchy slapback tones and chord progressions that appear throughout Grizzly Bear’s discography; Jimmy Page’s playing on Achilles Last Stand; Jonny Greenwood’s super clear tones on songs like 15 Step; and so, so many others. Shoutout to all other musicians everywhere in the world.

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