Twinemen is Dana Colley, Billy Conway, & Laurie Sargent.
Twinemen combines a deep respect for songwriting with a distinctive organic musical chemistry and creates music that is both difficult to describe, and yet resonates with a warm sense of familiarity.
From the beginning the band's manifesto was to create unusual music, as Dana and Billy did for years with the band Morphine. Twinemen were brought together after the death of their friend and bandmate, Mark Sandman, leaving Dana and Billy without the band they had been a part of for ten years, with five records, (Rykodisc, Dreamworks) a Grammy nominated video and relentless worldwide touring.
In the year after Mark's death the two put together Orchestra Morphine, a nine piece rollicking celebration of the work of Morphine, and toured the US and Italy. One of the members of Orchestra Morphine was singer Laurie Sargent, and with her the seeds were sown for the music that would become Twinemen. (Intro from the band's website).
Livewire's Matt Schwenke had the chance to chat with Dana Colley and Billy Conway.
Livewire: Knowing Mark Sandman personally, what do you think was his motivation to be an artist, to be a poet, to be a musician?
Dana: I can only surmise that what drove Mark was a deep commitment to his art, a love for the story, the experience of life in all aspects of the human condition. and then to be a conduit for interpretation as a narrator. Mark loved books and language culture and I think he was always relating his experience to his art.
Livewire: Why do you do what you do?
Dana: Being a musician is the only thing that makes sense for me. I can't do much else, I suck at retail, I'm a crappy waiter and I'm really good at painting houses.
Livewire: How did the idea for i Sandbox come to be and how was the work divided in putting the collection together?
Billy: The idea was to shed light on what a prolific songwriter Mark was. Mark with a large group of his friends left a treasure chest of material.
Livewire: Laurie, What do you like most about Mark's music?
Laurie: As a vocalist, especially once I started singing Mark's songs, I have really fallen in love with his phrasing. It is very unique, and seems so simple, until you try it.
Livewire: Laurie, You have developed a unique quality in your guitar work with Twinemen. Who are some of your favorite guitarists and why?
Laurie: James Honeyman-Scott and Lindsay Buckingham.
Livewire: As one musician to another, what did you like most about making and playing music with Mark? What were the hardest things to agree on or work out musically with Mark?
Dana: He was fearless in his approach "remember that riff I'll make up some words" and off we'd go.
Billy: Being able to keep up with what he was hearing.
Livewire: With all of the unreleased material, both musically and visually, now available from Mark Sandman's collection, what do you hope fans will hear and see?
Billy: That he was writing songs all the time in a distinctive way.
Livewire: What part, if any, do you have in the Mark Sandman Music Education Fund?
Dana: We participate by being involved in working with the children, recording classes also with raising awareness for the fund by doing concerts for the fund.
Livewire: What is your worst memory from high school band or any music lesson when you were younger? The best?
Dana: Having to march in the marching band was the worst. Music in military formation just never sat well with me.
Billy: Playing a Stones song with the school orchestra.
Livewire: Billy, you have written some interesting songs on guitar with Twinemen. How long have you been playing guitar and what effect, if any, does playing the guitar have on your drumming?
Billy: I've been strumming along all along. It's all about the groove - so understanding how it feels on other instuments must help.
Livewire: The songs on i Sideshow seem to have a theme of oddity throughout them and do well to make a collective piece of art-- the album. How did you approach the song-writing on this album compared to your self-titled first release?
Dana: The songs on Sideshow came about through the process of touring as a live band. We played in Europe, all over the US so by the time we were ready to record the new record we had had the luxury of working out the basic approach on stage. Unlike the first record where we wrote and recorded everything before we had even formed as a "live" band.
Livewire: Dana, how many saxophones do you have? Do you have a favorite? If so, please describe.
Dana: Two Baritones; one tenor; one bass; one soprano; and lately my favorite has been my bass clarinet aka the "electric kazoo."
Livewire: There are some strange instruments on i Sideshow -- the ashtray, bass wubbawubba, etc... What are some other items you would like to include as instruments on an album?
Billy: The Wash-tub bass is important to have on as many recordings as possible.
Livewire: What's the strangest thing you've seen at a sideshow?
Dana: Human pin cushion.
Billy: Sword swallowing.
Livewire: What other artistic mediums do you experiment with?
Dana: I like to do woodblock printing and crochet (I lied about the crochet).
Livewire: Any spiritual ones?
Livewire: Are all of you Red Sox fans? Do you believe in curses?
Billy: Is a bear Catholic? And Not Anymore!!!!!
Livewire: What has been the biggest headache and biggest joy from being on an independent label?
Billy: Planning the day after today - it's the work part of being an artist.
Livewire: What do you want for Christmas?
Billy: A new halter for my pet donkey, world peace.
Livewire: What's in the cards for Twinemen fans?
Dana: Community, good music, a different path than the mainstream would like you to follow.
Concert review - Milwaukee Oct. 20th, 2004