You guys recently started working with Madison House as your booking agent, what has that experience been like?
MS: It’s a big company so we were nervous about not being able to produce for them or not being up to par for them. But it’s been great.
ZG: Or not being able to do exactly what we wanted to do like less cooperation.
MS: We’ve had so many opportunities and our fans have come out and supported us and made these opportunities for us and we’ve literally had no problems.
BJ: We were afraid at first about being a small fish in a big pond but they were pretty much straight forward with us and said to us, “You guys are kind of small right now, you’re not going to be our bread and butter, at least for years and years, so we wouldn’t be wasting our time talking to you if we didn’t give a shit and we didn’t want you and want to put our time into your band,” you know like there would be no point in us doing that—that it’d be a waste of their time.
So we met with a couple of other agencies around the same time and meeting with the other agencies they weren’t really professional and we had to ask all the questions. But when we had a phone conference with Madison House we didn’t even have to say a word and all our questions were answered and it was perfect. It felt so right. So from the beginning it was good.
MS: It was all a fluke too, Madison House just happened to be doing car bombs at this Irish Pub they have drinks at on Wednesday nights and we were playing there.
MS: Yeah we put on the first Frendly Twiddle show that night. It was in September of 2011.
BJ: It was packed. It was totally random. People were crowd surfing.
You guys are in the midst of the Green is Good tour right now and you are always extensively touring these days. How is that going? Have you had any exciting experiences on this tour in particular?
MS: It’s going good. It’s always exciting being in new places and showing up to a city you’ve never been to and having a ton of people come out. It’s rewarding in itself.
BJ: It’s also good to see the entire country. We just got flown out to Utah last weekend. It’s nice to go to different places, try different foods and meet different people.
RD: It’s great when we have some time off on tours. We went to Mount Rushmore. We’ve seen the Grand Canyon at sunrise. We lived in Venice Beach, California for a month.
MS: It is great but it’s not a walk in the park.
BJ: No it’s not and a lot of people think, “Oh, you’re a rock star.” But no we’re not. We just put in a lot of work. It’s so much beyond playing the show, which even then when you get to the show, you have to put your heart and soul into it but then you’ve also been up for the last two days or something.
ZG: And you’ve been with the same people for weeks. [Laughter]
MS: Yeah I hate these boys. [Laughter].
Could you tell me about your songwriting process? Do you guys write songs while out on the road?
MS: I write lyrics on the road sometimes but it’s more about experiences.
My whole thing with writing, especially with lyrics is I just can’t force it. I can’t say I want to go write a song and then just go sit down and write it. That’s not how it works for me. So when it comes, it comes and I try not to force it. So sometimes I won’t write a song for 4 months and other times I’ll write 5 songs in 3 weeks. It all depends on if it’s there and it comes out and it’s natural. I prefer to do it that way because every time I force it, it just never comes out right and I spend too much time worrying about different words and the message and this and that.
ZG: The last thing you want to do is write a song that everyone loves but you don’t like and then we have to play it all the time.
MS: The extensive touring that we’ve been doing is fairly new to us and it does wear on you, at least it does on me. I get so tired and overwhelmed sometimes with just waking up in a new city, it’s all just a blur really.
But you can take that and use it for the songs that you’re writing and the frustration and joy that goes into it are at an equal level for me so I can make them both and channel them both in the music one way or another. Don’t get me wrong—I wouldn’t want to do anything else but if we didn’t have those 4 hours on stage, it just wouldn’t work—that’s the rewarding time. I’m so content when we are on stage playing but that’s about 4 hours out of the whole hour day and it’s all driving, so much sitting on your butt in a van and eating fast food. It’s not conducive to living a healthy lifestyle.
You guys are playing countless shows and you’re hitting the whole festival circuit every summer now. Do you have any plans to make a new album soon?
MS: _Live at Nectars _will be out in about 2 weeks and we are going to start recording our next studio album in January. We’re getting booked so far ahead in advance right now that we want to block off a month for doing an album. Touring in the winter sucks, you know driving in the snow sucks so we decided that if you are ever going to take off time to make an album, you better do it in the midst of the winter.
BJ: We plan to head out to the west coast for a tour after we record the studio album in January. We’re hoping to start the tour in Washington and head down the coast.
I’m curious, what are some of your favorite bands to see live? What are some of your favorite venues to see music? I went to The Gorge for Phish last summer and fell in love with it you know even over Red Rocks.
MS: I’m a Red Rocks guy. I love the Gorge too and it’s beautiful but I find that there is this special energy at Red Rocks.
RD: I’m really excited to see Phish, Bela Fleck and go to Wakarusa, Gathering of the Vibes, The Frendly Gathering and Summer Camp. I’d like to play at The Capitol Theatre again hopefully soon. There’s going to be tons of amazing music this summer. I’m really excited for SPAC.
Are there any upcoming tour dates, festival dates that you guys are specifically excited about or new places or festivals that you’re playing at this summer?
ZG: Summer Camp, The Frendly Gathering, and the Hudson Project.
MS: We are playing the main stage for the first time this year at the Gathering of the Vibes. Vibes is probably the most special for me.
BJ: We’re also playing the main stage at Wakarusa.
Can you tell me how the “The FRENDS Theme” song came about? Does it have something to do with The Frendly Gathering Festival? Are you guys associated with The Frendly Gathering? Is that your festival?
MS: Yes we are associated with The Frendly Gathering Festival. We are the host band. The “Frends” are a group of snowboarders who started the Frends group. They also have a headphone company and they were the ones who flew us out to Colorado to play that show at Conor O’Neill’s, which resulted in us meeting Madison House and soon becoming a band under their booking agency. They’ve been really good allies for us. We met them at the first Frendly Gathering and now they are all good friends. Danny Davis, one of the guys from the group was just in the Olympics for snowboarding and that’s really awesome.
When they flew us out to Colorado to play at Conor O’Neills we also ended up staying in their snowboard/ski house in Breckenridge and played at the amphitheater there and I was like, “Man, I just want to write a song for these guys,” and I kind of hummed the melody when we were out there and when I got home I wrote the song.
At the time it only had a first verse followed by a bunch of gibberish. It was just three chords, really simple with a nice hook. So I really just wrote it for Jack and those guys, just sort of to say thank you and we really like them.
Jack, one of the other guys from the “Frends” group and I just finished writing the second verse a couple weeks ago when we were in Colorado last. We were just in Utah with Jack too and we decided we were going to work on the third verse.
I want him to be involved in the rest of the lyrics on that one. He gives me outlines of what he wants for the lyrical content and I’ll take that and morph it into the song. So they’re the ones—Jack and Danny that put on The Frendly Gathering and we’re the host band this year. It’s not officially our festival but to us it’s like our family, fan base there. I mean we play every night of the festival. So it’s our festival in the way we think about it. Officially it’s not but I think it will be one day but this year at least we are the host band and we get to play every night. Zdenek and I are doing a couple Gubbulidis sets, I’m doing a solo and Mihali and Friends set so we’re just going to be playing the whole weekend and multiple times a day. So it’s really exciting and those guys have just been so good to us.
They know how to live man. They’re pro snowboarders and they really have had a really crazy, amazing life being able to travel and understand the business ends of being in sort of entertainment and having agents and the value of a brand and that kind of thing. And they support our band and really were kind of ambassadors for us in that world and they’ve just done so much for us without even trying. You know they didn’t know that Madison House was going to be at Conor O’Neill’s that night, they just happened to be and so it became the first Frendly Twiddle show we put on—that’s what we call them.
How did you guys come up with the name Twiddle? Is there any story behind it?
RD: When Mickey and I met in college we were first together in a trio band called Jinx but when Brook and our old bass player joined the band we found out that Jinx was taken as the name of a German band. So we picked up a dictionary and I started to read words off to Mickey until we finally got to T and stumbled upon Twiddle. Mickey asked me to read the definition and in this dictionary it was defined as “to twiddle your thumbs,” an act usually done when you’re bored. But on Wikipedia and other online sources we found that Twiddle had many other definitions like to turn or jounce lightly, to energize, move around and in the sexual and musical sense—to masturbate or to climax the music. So Twiddle seemed like a good thing because to us it meant to do fast, musical notes and also to move around in the sense of movement. So Mickey and I were like, “Yes, that’s good.” It really just came from us going through a dictionary stoned off of our asses. [Laughter]. We did go through the rest of the dictionary but we ended up not finding anything else that we felt had a musical affiliation that connected with who we are and what kind of band we were becoming.
We want to give fans a musical orgasm—that’s our goal. Twitter came out soon after ironically and a Twiddle was a twitter riddle and it kind of took off and we love it. It is also something that you can remember whether you hate or love it. I felt like it just fit with our surrounding side, our vibe and our personalities. Also the idea of having a one-word name band was important to us. You know like instead of say Blink 182, we definitely wanted the one word name for our band name.
You guys have a contagious, fun energy on stage that bounces off each other. How would you guys describe the energy between the four of you when you’re playing live?
RD: That were twiddling and bouncing off each other. The thing about the band is we’ve grown to know each other’s sound and how we play and it’s basically become second nature to us—to know what we’re doing and play off each other. It takes a lot of listening and you can’t just focus on yourself. It’s taking the whole sound, making it better and trying to play off all the players. It took awhile to do that too because for a long time it was just focusing when we were younger musicians, making eye contact and trying to play off everybody around you. But we’re still trying to perfect it to get to the best musicians we can be. We’re trying to look at the music as an overall sound and give ourselves a unique sound, which is the best thing a musician can ask for—something that makes them unique. You know like, “This is Twiddle because I can hear how it sounds overall.” So hopefully one day we will be able to get our own unique sound and just make music on the spot other than the written parts you have to play at certain times.
You guys tell everyone to “Doinkinbonk!!!” What is “Doinkinbonking”?
RD: Zdenek wrote that song and he wanted to have a word he made up that was really silly to convey a tune that made you loosen up, you know just lose yourself in a dance and just fucking groove.
You guys have gone to festivals as fans together. What is that like in contrast to the experience of headlining your own festival now?
RD: My first festival was actually one that we also played at—Gathering of the Vibes in 2012. But Mickey and Brook had been to Bonnaroo, Vibes and other festivals prior.
For Mickey, when I met him it was a dream to play any festival—that one day we will be able to do this and we’re finally seeing a pay off and playing festivals.
It was such an amazing feeling that now we’re in that position to play for people in the same way we were once fans and members of the audience to now, you know when we were teenagers and watching and being in awe and now my first festival I was actually able to play for people too.
You guys have evolved so much as a band since you first started and it’s a continuous evolution. Where do you see it going next, the evolution of Twiddle? How far do you see the evolution of Twiddle going?
RD: I like to keep the organic feel, I like the band as live music so hopefully in that direction. I love the idea of musicians getting on stage in front of people and playing music. So I hope it will always be playing an instrument and maybe going off of different sounds that are catchy. At the show we played last night there were these two girls crying in the front row and I looked at the boy next to them and I asked him what was wrong. He told me that everything was okay and that they were tears of joy because of how much they love you guys and your music—that’s what I hope to keep in our evolution that we will always have that impact on our fans. Anyone who knows that feeling and I told her that I’ve been there before too, I remember starting to cry you know at Phish—there was this moment after they were playing no notes and the crowd was just going nuts after them just doing nothing, just this energy of people sitting there not even making noise and it can make them go wild, this intense feeling. It just struck me as, “Wow you can get so many people so excited.” So I hope that music stays like that and you can always get an intense emotion out of people whether it’s sad or happy and hopefully that’s where Twiddle will always stay, to always have that connection is so important to me.
How has living in Vermont shaped your music?
RD: We started in Castleton, Vermont. I donate the idea to the scenery. We all lived in a place called Eagle Rock with a lake in front of us. We wrote music there and we would hike this mountain called Eagle Rock with such beautiful scenery.
In Vermont, the environment had a great deal to do with our music just as it might be different if we lived in New York City or Detroit or any different part of the world you’re from.
Vermont has this scenery and environment that just makes the music. It inspires you so much being in such a beautiful place in the world, inspiring what kind of a composition you create or you know if I was in a place of war and there was gunfire—I’d think I’d write a little different. So really foliage and lakes, hopefully that has a lot to do with where Twiddle’s music comes from. But it also comes from everybody’s taste in music. Even just art in general, you know music, art and literature—it’s all about taking what’s around you and making sense of it and creating something from the imagery you get from the scenery around you.