“I wanted to be alive,” George Lewis Jr., who performs as Twin Shadow, tells Rolling Stone of his motivation to leave his Brooklyn home and spend two months recording in Los Angeles. The result of that westward adventure, a new album that he calls Confess, is due out on July 24th.
Thanks to the success of his 2010 debut, Forget, a hotel-recorded affair steeped in Eighties New Wave, Lewis spent the better part of the last two years on the road. As a result, the Floridian-by-way-of-the-Dominican Republic began feeling disconnected from society. “It’s stereotypical,” admits Lewis, who returns to touring life this July. “It’s like Pink Floyd’s The Wall. You’re connecting with more people but you’re spending less time with [them]. But it really does happen. Whether it’s cliché or not, you can’t really control it.”
What Lewis could control is where he’d record his next album. L.A. would prove to be something of a respite for the singer and multi-instrumentalist who, when he wasn’t laying down tracks at his rented home in Silver Lake or at Music Friends in Eagle Rock, cruised through the canyons on his ’72 Bonneville motorcycle. “That was a huge deciding factor in coming to LA,” he says. “I wanted to spend time on my bike, and when I didn’t want to do that, I’d record. I didn’t want to go hermit style – check out and go to the woods. I’ve done that before. I think that’s really overrated. I wanted to still be able to go have a drink and meet a pretty girl.”
L.A. also allowed him to escape his East Coast friends, whom Lewis found to be his biggest doubters. “My friends would call me up and say things like ‘We’re worried. I just listened to Forget and we’re just worried if you can top it.’ That was part of the reason I went to California. I wasn’t around everybody in New York reminding me that I might fail.”
Unlike the songs on Forget – many of which were written and produced in the same day – Lewis says Confess was written almost entirely prior to entering the studio. “It was a little more separate this time: this is the writing period, this is the producing period,” he explains. “I wrote all the songs and then went back to them multiple times – 13, 14 times – and fleshed them out slowly.”
Like Forget, Confess contains a slew of intimate moments. Emotionally, Lewis sees his second record in a new, vastly different light than its predecessor. “[With] Forget I was full of this undying love,” he says. “This record, I’m searching for that again.” Lewis also countered the album’s quieter moments with powerful, melodic turns. “I really tried to make the record louder and more bombastic,” he says. “Being out on the road with the live band I realized that we have a very aggressive performance and I just wanted to bring that energy to the record.”
Lewis cites “Poison,” an album-cut bathed in gurgling synths that he calls his “example of pop music,” as one of the only new songs that he has debuted live. But he’s hesitant to single out any track on Confess as particularly meaningful to him. “They’re all really important,” he says. “That’s why I’m happy with the record. If I could release them all as singles I would.”
The singer also thinks Confess will put an end to the comparisons with Morrissey – something he suspects is due in large part to both singers’ reliance on their lower vocal register. “People call me the Black Morrissey,” he says, laughing. “Whatever. If that’s how they dream about me at night, more power to them.”