December: Twilighter | Band of the Month | Indy Week
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December: Twilighter 

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Saturday, Dec. 9, 10 p.m.
CD release party
The Cave
452 1/2 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill
968-9308, www.caverntavern.com

During the e-mail exchange with Brandon Herndon, vocalist and guitarist for Twilighter, we played a prediction game of sorts—a chancy proposition, perhaps, with a band that's as unpredictable as this Chapel Hill five-piece. I was getting ready to listen to Twilighter's brand new Fixed, and I asked Herndon to write three adjectives and three artists that he thought might come to my mind as I dove into the record, as well as a short description. He decided to pass on the three artists ("You answer that one," he said), but his adjectives were "heartfelt," "louder" and "toothier," and for a description he offered "We want to tell you what happened after you went home."

The three adjectives that I scrawled upon first listen were "jittery," "moody" and "surprising," and three bands that came to mind were Velvet Underground, Violent Femmes and Zen Frisbee. As for the description, well, here's what I came up with: "Initially unsettling but with hidden warmth, the aural equivalent of the guy who stands too close to you in the checkout line but then opens the door for you, albeit with an enigmatic smile." As I said, unpredictable.

The rest of our e-mail conversation took a more conventional tack.

Independent Weekly: As spokesperson, you get to introduce the band. Would you do the honors, please? And for a couple bonus points, can you name all 100 bands that Anthony Lener has played in?

Brandon Herndon: We stand right now as: Brandon Herndon, vocals and guitar; Josh Sokal, bass; Sonar Strange, keys, vocals and percussion; Tony Nolan, drums and vocals; and Anthony Lener, guitar. As for big Anthony, there are too many to list for this journeyman motherfucker. In exchange, he's offering an anecdote: "Cheetah Chrome fired him after six months 'cause he said, 'Anthony, I like ya, but you got too much brains.'"

IW: Can you explain the origins and significance of the name Twilighter? In what ways is the name appropriate for the band and its music?

BH: It's 3 a.m. music. It's the last light before absolute darkness, 'cause industrial dawns are pretty and we're hoping it gets done. It's got a hint of promise, hope. And it's appropriate because we're moody, edgy night people.

IW: I grabbed this line from the Independent about Fortune is On (Twilighter's first release): "This is road music to leave town for good to." Comments? What about your music makes it appropriate for when your town is in the rear view mirror?

BH: I liked that description, but I do think there was a bit more threading of hope through those songs, even though leaving can make you feel kind of hopeful. They always felt to me like those moments where you realize things have changed, you know it but you don't know what to do yet.

It gets back to the moodiness. Leaving always seems kind of promising if you don't think about it too much.

IW: Fixed is Twilighter's second record. What was easier about making the second record compared to the first, and what was harder?

BH: It was easier because we recorded and had been playing those Fixed songs as a band, unlike Fortune, which started as my own project and then the band basically formed out of that. Fixed was also recorded quickly, with very little overdubs, live and deliberate. The songs were ready to go and more formed, and the sound was already in the process of being developed. What was harder is that we had to make decisions.

IW: This is the all-purpose, is there anything that you want to say space. If you'd like to say something about the band, the record, and/or the CD release show, please have at it.

BH: First of all thanks for the time, seriously. The CD release party is at the Cave on Saturday, Dec. 9, year of our Lord, 2006. We're playing with Regina Hexaphone. We'll be giving out some free CDs to the first faces we see, specially wrapped CDs with maybe a surprise or two enclosed. We play our songs different every time because we think they have a life of their own, so when we're doing what we should, they come out vibrant and pulsing ... and when we aren't doing what we should they walk away on their own. That "right way" often happens when we're pissed at each other and out of sorts, sometimes it happens via a series of happy accidents, sometimes it happens because we're completely there and locked into one another and in the moment. So in other words, we don't get bogged in what should be, but find ourselves always dealing with what is ... As for Fixed, I'm hoping you will take the time to read the actual text of what I sent you. It's the background text that runs throughout the actual CD, cover, under the CD, and the back of the CD. "Fixed" is a bigger word than what it seemed to me before I started actually breaking it down, via the writing and recording of the album. "Fixed" implies a kind of final, almost hopeful/desperate answer. Being from the South, I've also heard the word used as almost a declaration ("I'm fixing to do something..."). I could go on, but the text/essay explains it, sort of. It works on us all (in the band) differently so that makes me feel good, 'cause it means it's not giving up pat answers, or giving itself up too easily. We're very proud of it. We played the songs, recorded them, and we can't agree on what to say about the album. It's got mystery.

—Rick Cornell

On the Web: twilighter.net

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