An Interview with Civil Twilight

Written By: Curtis Sindrey

How’s the tour going?

Steven: It’s going great. Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. We didn’t expect it to be this good.  (Laughs)

What does it feel like to be going back to South Africa to perform?

Steven: It’s kind of nerve-racking. Yeah, I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. (Laughs)

Richard: We haven’t been back in so long, so we want to come back and make a good impression. (Laughs) We want people to think we’ve actually progressed. There’s a lot more pressure than most shows.

Steven: But it’s going to be special. It’s going to be really special. We’re playing a show the day after Christmas, and than we play the 29th. So, there are a lot of people on holiday and there are a lot of people from around the country that are coming down to see us.

How often do you incorporate South African themes or issues into your lyrics?

Steven: Well, not politically, but I think all of us find that the environment, even though we’ve lived in the U.S for a little while, we still find ourselves drawing inspiration from our home, maybe just because of its beauty or its multiculturalism that we grew up in.

How has your music evolved since your first gig?

Andrew: Well, hopefully a lot. (Laughs) It’s gotten more sensitive to the emotion of music. When we started we all wanted to be an angry teenage band. Back than, we’d listen to bands like Sliver chair and such. That was our ambition. We started to develop the flow of dynamics by playing off of each other and listening to each other’s ideas.

How has social media impacted your band?

Steven: We came pretty late into the game. But, we’ve been playing for a while, but this is our first album.  We’re diving straight into the mist that is now the music industry. Its slowing learning how to change and adapt. We’re trying to adapt as well to that, but its exciting. Like someone said the other day, “good music will prevail.” Your audience, because of the cultural avenues, your audience might dwindle or expand, but you’ll always have someone there. (Laughs)

Andrew: The good and the bad thing is that right after a show you can immediately go onto Twitter or Facebook and get photographs from that night.

Richard: Its easy to promote your shows now. You can put on post on Facebook and suddenly everyone gets it. It requires a little more work, because I feel like these days people want a personal interaction with a band. But 10-20 years ago it was a little more difficult to come by because the mystery and illusion is what made those bands so popular.  Today, people want access to everything.

What are rehearsals generally like?

Richard: The good ones are usually spontaneous. It’s basically hours and hours of jamming. We come in with a few ideas and we play around with them until we find something we can work with. That’s how it starts, than we start arranging songs.

What are some challenges that you’ve come across in being a band?

Richard: We’ve never liked the idea of being performers and standing in front of a crowd of people.  Being in a band is an interesting thing.  It’s like being married. You travel together, you live together, you work together, and it’s very much like being married.

What kinds of advantages or disadvantages are there in being in a band with your brother?

Steven: There aren’t really any disadvantages to working with a sibling. At least in our case there aren’t. Maybe if you are a few years apart or you are very different than it may be very difficult. For some reason, it seems to work for us because we want to make it work.

Although, we have started out on stage recently during one of Andrew’s (guitarist) “solo pieces,” where he’s going crazy and I’m (Steven – lead singer) going crazy and we kind of beat each other up. (Laughs) Every night it gets a little rougher, so we might end up beating up each other.

Andrew: It’s weird because you grew up together, than you have to work together, and It’s a ongoing struggle to maintain your individualism.

What was the extent of your parents’ influence on your early musical development?

Andrew: Our mom played piano very well and she had a great voice and there was normally good music in the house. They kind of pushed us into learning more about music by learning to play the piano or the guitar. Where we grew up, being a musician held really negative connotations. It wasn’t a responsible thing to do, financially responsible, and people really looked down on it. But our parents were very encouraging in what we wanted to do.

What are some cultural differences between Cape Town and Los Angeles?

Andrew: LA is really different to the rest of American in and of itself. We come from a very “holiday” kind of mindsets, where there’s a very strong beach culture. Also, the “sales pitch” aspect of the music business that we find ourselves in, especially in Hollywood, where everyone is pitching something or trying to get something.  You have to learn who to trust, which isn’t many people. Something simple like “let’s do lunch,” it has become more of a passing term where it doesn’t really mean what it means, it means like “I hope to see you again some time,” but we would take it literally because that’s what we grew up on. If someone asked us, “let’s do lunch,” we would automatically say, “cool, I have Wednesday free,” but its confusing because they don’t want to do lunch, they want to leave. (Laughs)

Why do you consider yourself to be more influenced by British and American artists more than African artists?

Richard: When we were kids, African music wasn’t considered as cool as British or American music.  Like, rock and roll was cool, but African ethnic music that surrounded us was not very appealing at the time.  As kids, we were fascinated by the art that was happening overseas. The American bands had the cool videos, great production and that’s what appealed to us initially.

Andrew: But now, there’s more confidence in African ethnic music and it’s really on par with the rest of the world’s music.

What kind of questions do you strive to answer in your lyrics?

Steven: Its really just the questions that everyone is trying to answer. The story and the characters in the story become their own thing and they almost teach you something about how to live life. Whoever is listening to the song, it changes over time. Tonight the song can teach you one thing and a different thing another night.

For now, I’d like to keep things vague and ambiguous just so people can interpret how they want and take from it what they will.

When can we expect a new Civil Twilight album?

Steven: We’re going to aim for next year.  We’re going to keep touring this album till the end of this year and than start working on something in the summer. We’ll see how the year goes.

Curtis Sindrey

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