January 6, 2016
By Lilledeshan Bose
Finding inspiration in a discarded book of poetry, Narc Twain writes music about dystopia.
In 2014, Narc Twain’s guitarist and singer-songwriter Tommy Siegel found poet Jeremy Schmall's book The Cult of Comfort in a Brooklyn recycling bin. He found lyrical inspiration in Schmall’s dystopian musings on the American corporatocracy and used that theme it in Narc Twain’s self-titled debut EP. Alongside drummer/producer John Thayer, guitarist Aaron Leeder, keyboardist Dave Cohen and bassist Brett Niederman, Siegel wrote songs about paranoia, apathy and anxiety disguised by melodic riffs and hyper singalongs within six months. (“Downhill,” the first track, has lyrics about Brooklyn going up in flames and Manhattan underwater.) Siegel talks to Myspace about Dischord's influence on Narc Twain, and their music, which he describes as “guitar rock for 21st century anxiety.”
Hometown: We're all from all over the place on the East Coast.
Homebase: Brooklyn, New York.
Why are you called Narc Twain?
It started as a bad joke. I was making demos and emailing them back and forth with the band name 'Narc Twain'. We tried to think of other names for nine months (and thought of dozens), but nothing else seemed quite right. We're well aware that the pun-band-name-thing is very overdone right now, but this one seemed too good to reject -- and it seemed in line with the spirit of the project.
How did everyone in the band meet?
We all met in DC in the early 2000s -- I was playing in a band called Jukebox the Ghost and the other guys (mostly) were playing in a band called Exit Clov. We played a lot of shows together locally and eventually formed a project called Drunken Sufis. Narc Twain is an extension of that world, but with a renewed focus on 'songs' rather than 'skronky noise things'.
DC, that makes sense. Does the fact that you all met in DC influence your music at all?
The fact that most of the band has spent serious time in DC has had a huge impact on our music. The Dischord 'thing' is a big influence over everything we do -- that idea that punk music can be intelligent, both lyrically and musically, without sacrificing its rawness.
What about collaborations? Who would you love to work with?
Oh man. Ian Mackaye? John Dieterich from Deerhoof? Mike Watt?
Talk about Narc Twain’s musical influences.
For Narc Twain, we're channeling a pretty specific set of influences, mostly bands that center around wiry, dual-guitar punk rock. Fugazi, Dismemberment Plan, Deerhoof, and Television were our main sources of inspiration for making this debut record.
Is there a reason your debut is self-titled?
Having a self-titled debut just felt right -- We debated using the sixth track on the EP as the title "And Today, Nothing", but there's a simplicity to having our logo along with a self-titled release that felt right.
What was your exposure to music like as a kid?
Like many others, I went through puberty and thought "I sure do like rock music." My parents bought me a Squier Strat, I formed a high school band, and I was hooked for life.
Aside from music, what do you do for fun?
Star Trek, mostly. But I've pretty much run out of content, which is an accomplishment I'm not sure I'm proud of.
Is there anything you’re most looking forward to in 2016?