Twinsy, the Ballarat 'supergroup' comprising of Guy Chappell and Michael Belsar of Yacht Club DJs and Hunting Grounds respectively, are about to head out on their debut run of live shows with Brisbane's Last Dinosaurs. With their debut EP cultivating a steady Australian fan base and generating interest from the overseas markets, the Twinsy bomb has the potential to explode as the duo enter 2013. Chappell talks with me about Twinsy's upcoming tour, making an album and proves that you can be in one of the country's more popular touring acts AND still manage to lock yourself out of your house at the same time.
Thanks for your time, Guy – how’s your day been?
I’m good – I’ve just locked myself out of my house, so I’m just sitting around…
Oh no, that sucks.
I have not locked myself out of my house since I was in Year 10, nine years ago.
Well, you’ve had a good run, then.
Yeah, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Anyway. I’ve even got two back up keys – one of them doesn’t work and I don’t know where I put the other one, which is not really interesting!
It’ll be a different way to open the article, I guess! Cheers anyway for the interview! How have things been in the Twinsy camp in the lead up to the Last Dinosaurs tour? How are rehearsals coming along?
Really good! We were looking to do a tour off our own back, just doing a show in each city and gaging where we were at because we’d never done a show before! The Dinos were looking for an extra support for their tour and Michael has written with them and has been friends with them for a long time and I’d been familiar with them for a couple of years, so it was a nice lucky fit, really!
Twinsy has cultivated quite a good fan base, really, off the EP and “Water Bombs” especially. How have you been able to gage what the live shows might be like?
We were actually talking about this other day; people probably think that we’re going to be a DJ act, but that’s not the case. Michael’s playing guitar and singing and I’m playing drums, a little bit of percussion and I’m filling in some of the parts on our tracks with my octopad, like a sample pad. It’s mostly live with a little bit of backing track, because it’s only two of us!
I feel really lucky that people have come on to Twinsy and are enjoying it. When I started writing the tracks, it was the start of winter last year in 2011 and Ballarat was looking pretty dark and miserable as a whole. Yacht Club had finished touring and so I threw myself into writing some really upbeat, tropical music to cheer myself up! That’s how the sound came about.
Twinsy’s debut live gig is in your hometown of Ballarat; considering that both you and Michael are used to getting a bit hectic onstage with your other projects, I would assume that there aren’t too many nerves bothering you about a show like this?
Yeah, we have the home ground advantage – we’ve been lucky enough, because we know them really well, to rehearse there, so we can try everything out. Even with a backing track, we want to make sure everything gels really nicely and because we haven’t played the songs live, we’re just trying to work out what’s going to work for a bigger PA than in this rehearsal space. We’ve actually jammed more in venues to no one than we have in our actual houses! I’m not nervous particularly; I probably will be a little bit before I play, purely because I haven’t played drums in public with a band since I left high school. I just got sick of carting my drums around, but I’m really enjoying it again now. I think that because there’s always stuff that going to go wrong, we’ll just ride it out and laugh about it.
Both Yacht Club DJs and Hunting Grounds are doing pretty well as live bands, safe to say – what prompted you guys to get together in the first place? It can’t have been out of creative boredom, surely?
I had the idea, originally, just to collaborate with all the people that I know through DJing with Yacht Club and with people I know from Ballarat in early high school. I started doing little bits and pieces and working on stuff with Vinci [Andanar] from Gold Fields and Alex [Wall] from Bleeding Knees Club and a few other people and Michael was always shooting ideas through. Everything he was sending through was just so good that I was like, ‘You’ve got to join the band’ and he was really keen to do that, so it happened naturally. It was more of a decision just to do something different from our other acts; since I’ve been doing Twinsy, I’ve become even more excited about doing Yacht Club; it’s reignited the flame for it. Gaz [Harrison] has felt the same thing with his other band, Them 9s, they’re on their way to Brisbane right now.
Who are they on tour with again?
They’re doing a few dates with Velociraptor, who have Shane [Parsons] and Sy [Ridley] from DZ, when they’re in the country!
Of course! So, how has coming from all sorts of different performing and musical backgrounds with different personal influences helped to shape the music Twinsy have produced?
Well Michael has written two styles of music; obviously the Hunting Grounds and Howl stuff is what’s well-known, but he’s also written some upbeat, pop tunes but hasn’t released anything. I’ve tinkered away for years, just making bits and pieces and Gaz and I have made little things to incorporate in the Yacht Club sets before, so I mean the style of music we make isn’t something totally new to us. It’s something that’s grown out of the last few years.
Basically, we’re seriously writing right now for an album we’ll try to release sometime in the next year, hopefully.
That was the next thing I was going to ask actually…
I think I’m reading your mind there a little bit.
It’s getting freaky – I have to cross questions out because you’re addressing them early!
[Laughs] We’ve had some interest from the UK and the US and they’re just like, ‘You really need a full-length album’, but it’s the same in Australia too. We’re really excited to be making an album; the songs that I’ve been making, I’m really psyched about them. I think they might even be better than the EP, hopefully!
People probably have a difficult time labelling Twinsy as one sort of music or another – kind of reminds me a bit of what Hot Chip and the Avalanches have managed to do in terms of blending different genres - was this fusion a conscious aim, or did you find it just developed that way as you guys began working together?
When I sat down to write it, I actually did think about Damon Albarn, when he sat down to do Gorillaz. I wanted to produce a type of music where you can’t say, ‘Oh this is that genre’, which is quite difficult; it sounds like a relatively easy idea, even if you’re just blending two genres, you go, ‘That’s that and that’s that’. I wanted to try my hardest to create something that’s at least a small part unique and something that you can’t specifically tie a genre to. My idea from the get-go was a sort of Beach Boys cross Armand Van Helden type of thing!
Michael and I are both really fascinated with good pop music; pop music that I think lasts, like Coldplay and The Killers, you know, a little bit of Top 40 music is the most streamlined way of getting your oral message across. That’s a wanky way of saying it but that’s basically the idea!
Once this Last Dinosaurs tour wraps up, what’s on the cards for Twinsy? How are you all managing to balance commitments to your other bands and your focus on this project as well? There’s clearly potential, for Twinsy to do just as well…
Yeah well, it’s just a matter of time to see how things play out; Twinsy have a got a few things planned for later in the year that we haven’t released yet. Possibly another single and some more dates that we haven’t announced yet, but they’ll be announced in the next month or two. Yacht Club and Hunting Grounds…I’ve got the same manager for Twinsy and Yacht Club and Hunting Grounds’ manager is working with us on stuff as well, so we’re all a tight-knit group and we can throw ideas around. Obviously, Michael and I are choosing Yacht Club and Hunting Grounds as our first priority for any gigs we get offered, that’s our priority.
Of course, completely understandable! That’s pretty much all I had for you today man, I can’t wait to see what the Twinsy stuff sounds like live!
Cool! Awesome stuff.
Excellent; well, I hope you get into your house soon…
I can get back in at 5pm; I’ve got to do a photo shoot at four o’clock, so it’s not so bad.
Ah cool, you got things to do then! Have a great one and we’ll catch you in a few weeks.
Great! Thank you!
Twinsy play their debut show TONIGHT at the Karova Lounge in Ballarat. Doors open from 8:30, tickets are selling at $10.