Chicago garage-rock act turns single series into new album

Last year, Twin Peaks decided to forego the regular album-tour cycle. Instead of hunkering down for an extended period of time to record a dozen songs for a new full-length, the Chicago five-piece planned to quickly record and release a series of singles in between tour stops.

It didn't start off well.

“We did a couple of [songs] at a studio that does not exist anymore. We got kicked out halfway through. It was kind of a crazy situation. … We just had to leave,” said bassist/singer Jack Dolan recently by phone. “Then we got robbed toward the end of it. Somebody busted into the studio and stole a bunch of shit.”

Fortunately, Twin Peaks' friends at Treehouse Records let the band set up shop there, leading to 12 songs that label Grand Jury recently compiled on an LP, Sweet '17 Singles, which follows 2016's Down in Heaven. While the band has always followed its garage-rock muse wherever it leads, Sweet '17 is a particularly varied collection. Twin Peaks consistently worships at the altar of the Stones, the Kinks, the Zombies and probably a few other “the” bands, but the five-piece also boasts four distinct lyricists and a few vocalists, which keeps the group from becoming derivative.

“We were able to go in all different directions,” Dolan said. “But I was surprised at how [the songs] flow into each other. Despite the fact that it's a series, when you listen to the compilation, it's got the same overall vibe to it.”

“Blue Coupe,” Dolan's sole songwriting contribution to the collection, was written after the loss of close friends. “It's a heavier song for me. I'd never written a song like that,” Dolan said. “It's just me reflecting on that and being angry about it. But it's also really beautiful sounding. It has both elements.”

Rather than try to make sense of tragedy, on “Blue Coupe” Dolan resigns himself to it. “It's the way that things are/It's the way that it is,” he sings.

“I don't think it's even possible to understand something like that. It's accepting it: That's how everything is,” Dolan said, adding that while that reality can be depressing, there's a sense of freedom in it, too. “It's a little empowering. That's the double message I take out of that.”

Twin Peaks has learned lessons on the road, too, since the bandmates' first tour at age 18, around the time of its 2013 debut, Sunken. “We're more used to the grind, and we're on time more often, but it's still business as usual,” Dolan said. “But we have sound people now, merch, a [tour manager]. And no one has to drive a van all night. We don't have to sleep on floors. Now that I think about it, I guess a lot has changed.”