HI NATHANIAL! THANKS FOR TAKING A BIT OF TIME TO HAVE A QUICK CHAT WITH US. SO, IF YOU COULD JUST GIVE THE SOUTH AFRICAN READERS A QUICK HISTORY OF YOURSELF AND WHO IS THE VANISHING TWIN?
Hello, Thanks so much for reaching out and taking the time to chat with me.
I grew up in the mean street suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, and got into photographing bands at an early age in my teenage years. I’ve spent the last two decades or so documenting various music subcultures, and in the process have always casually played music myself. The Vanishing Twin project started about 10 years ago as home bedroom recordings, messing around late at night when everyone was asleep, trying to flesh out some ideas that didnt fit other more aggressive or “heavier” music projects I was working on. In passing I had played some of these songs for Eric from Aqualamb records who was very encouraging to keep experimenting with these new sounds. Aqualamb the label started not too long after this, and they pursued me about releasing what became my first full length “Trespasses” which came out in Oct of 2016. At the time I wrote and recorded everything at home via a Tascam digital 4 track, and polished it up on my laptop. I happen to run into Steve Austin from Today is the Day who took the time to listen to the songs and offered to be a part of the project, helping me mix and master it. That was a really incredible experience, as I am a massive fan of his band.
YOUR EP “THE THREE MOTHERS” IS AN OUTSTANDING TRIP INTO THE UNTAPPED WORLD OF MADNESS, HORROR AND SOUND. WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN INFLUENCE THEMATICALLY?
This EP was a slight departure from my last album in terms of the writing location being different, living in a small isolated Brooklyn studio apartment with my girlfriend. So sitting around in my underwear at 3am playing guitar wasn’t really an option as it had previously been, because we are adults and she has a job…so I started playing around with MIDI sequences more, because I could do that with headphones. I hadn’t planned on really doing anything with the bare bones of these 3 songs, other than they seemed to fit together nicely. I’m a huge Argento and giallo film fan. There were three songs, and there are three films in the THREE MOTHERS film trilogy, so I started writing and adding to the three jams with the concept in mind of each song being the story of each movie told through the eyes of the antagonist. So ultimately, special limitations, and the visual stimulation of Argento were the driving force behind completing the EP.
I’M HEARING A LOT OF ECLECTIC INFLUENCES IN THIS EP…FROM SOUNDSCAPES LIKE KADAA/PATTON TO THE RUMBLING POST-METAL VIBES OF NEUROSIS…WHAT INSPIRED THIS COLLECTION IN A MUSICAL SENSE.
I’ll admit I’m a MARK LANEGAN superfan. So anything I do with the project is undeniably influenced by his crooning, and introspective self-deprecating lyrical assessments of life. While I do love NEUROSIS as well, and cant deny there is some of that in there, the CULT OF LUNA record “SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY” has always resonated with me, and cultivated a bit of sway in songwriting. Growing up in Detroit, I am a huge fan of Jay Dilla, and his genius of hip hop production and beat making. There is a lot of grimy hip hop ascendancy with these songs, without being hiphop songs at all, ranging from THREE 6 MAFIA, GRAVEDIGGAZ, BONE THUGS, and my undying love of the CASH MONEY MILLIONAIRES. I’m very much all over the place with being an audiophile if you want to call it that, and I love the juxtapositions of taking a BONE THUGS type rhythmic idea, applying some LANEGAN crooning, and a bit of CATHERINE WHEEL guitar licks…I think it works?
HOW LONG DID YOU TAKE TO RECORD THESE SONGS? TELL US A BIT OF THE PROCESS AND PRODUCTION?
This EP took longer to put together than I had really planned honestly. The bones of the songs were floating around for a couple years and I would dabble with them here and there. Something was missing though, and I felt that they really needed live drums. I was discussing the EP with my buddy Fred Estby of DISMEMBER fame, and he was into playing drums on the three songs, which also fit into this weird juxtaposition of having a fantastic death metal drummer, play some jazzy mid-tempo drums on these horror movie influenced soundscapes. Jeremy Page of THAT HANDSOME DEVIL and CZARFACE production mixed the record for me. He’s a great producer, and I love his work with CZARFACE. He’s an old metal head that has been working in hip hop production, so I naturally wanted him to mix these. Steve Austin once again mastered the jams, and it finally came together after a couple years of slowly cooking.
A LOT OF BANDS, YOURSELF INCLUDED, HAVE RELEASED THEIR LATEST ALBUMS ON CASSETTE. IN THIS DIGITAL AGE OF MUSIC STREAMING AND INSTANT GRATIFICATION, HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU FEEL PHYSICAL MEDIA IS? IS IT SIMPLY NOSTALGIA? A GIMMICK? OR A NECESSITY?
This is a great question. It’s a bit of all of the above. I’m first and foremost a collector, be it art, music, etc. The convenience of streaming is a wild technology, and in a positive way a great way to absorb new things, but I like to hold my interests. I want to look at album artwork. I want to have someone else’s ideas in my hands. I don’t think tapes are a gimmick, given the market for selling them is very small, and not profitable (if you are trying to make money) at all, as much as these songs, how they sound, the concept of the record and album art…just all lead to tape. I love the sound of a bit of tape delay, and the warble sometimes of that sounds. It’s totally nostalgic, but what does that even mean? If people are still producing tapes, is that nostalgic or relevant? It’s subjective to whom your audience might be, and what they are into. Mainstream culture may think it’s outdated, but I still shoot 35mm film too because it’s superior to digital. It also makes me feel more engaged with my photographs, subject matter, etc. Tapes make me feel the same way. I want to connect with what I’m listening to, and physical media allows for that, which personally makes it a necessity. If I like what you are doing I want to own your product. So much work goes into making art, so if you have a concept for songs, artwork, media, etc…I want the whole package…because that’s YOUR art you know? Physical media also forces you to slow down and be a part of what you are listening to. People need to slow down and appreciate and digest what they are trying to absorb. If not, the meaning is totally lost.
WHAT DARK CHASM OF CLAUSTROPHOBIC TERROR IS NEXT FOR YOU?
As we speak, I am currently working on the next full length. Obviously due to Covid, this has turned into a file sharing process of working with a few drummers, and my live lead guitar player Pete Ross. The benefit of the old ‘Rona stopping the world, is also allowing me the time to go back through and rework ideas I might have rushed through. I do like that you said claustrophobic, you are not the first person to use that adjective in reference to these jams. My own music makes me feel claustrophobic, because most the time, it’s just me and the songs. I like to feel buried beneath the ideas and have to crawl my way out. I am pretty pumped at where things are heading, it’s definitely way more dynamic as this experiment progresses. I also have a 4 song EP of a side project called SUSPECTS, which will be available soon. If you lurk my social media @nathanielshannon on instagram there will be updates on this soon. This is a heavier, very DEADGUY / JESUS LIZARD / SNAPCASE influenced project, featuring my old pal SEAN HOEN of the Detroit experimental band THOUGHTS OF IONESCO on vocals, I’m just playing guitars. It’s going to be released as a 44 page art zine full of 35mm photo collages I made, with digital download, and of course of cassette tape, because that shit sounds awesome on cassette. That hopefully will be coming out by April. It was also a long time coming, and I’m super stoked to get it out.
AGAIN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.
Thanks for taking the time to holler at me!