This story could start a million different ways…It could open with Detroit’s Terrible Twos sprawled across pink bed sheets in a
random Seattle apartment, or maybe in Austin with keyboardist Danny Bing
enjoying Frito Pie on the porch of Beerland. Or better yet, back in the Pacific
Northwest with guitarist/vocalist Craig Brown gleefully showing off his
collection of “hunting knifes” soon after I arrive to interview the chaotic
four-piece. Sure each of these scenes offer its own moment of bizarre intrigue,
but there’s a more appropriate place to start this sordid tale - the ceiling of
the band’s 2001 Econoline tour van.
Taped to the ceiling of the Terrible Two’s white travel van is a tattered road
map of America. The silver duct tape is peeling, the faded paper is tearing,
some states are crumbled and others are missing altogether. It’s the highlight
of the van’s cut‘n’paste decor by far - although the “foot long tuna bacon”
magazine doodle does have it charm - and manages to embody the current (if not
constant) state of the synth-heavy experimental outfit. With so much time spent
on the road the past few years touring, the ragged upside-down “Driving Distance
Chart” is a pretty suitable image for the Terrible Twos, especially considering
the sonic disarray they cause in each town they play. I was fortunate enough to
meet up with Motor City’s finest to experience this destruction first-hand
during their recent tour with The Dirtbombs promoting their debut self-titled
full-length on Criminal IQ/X! Records.
Terrible Twos are:
TB: When did you start playing together?
Chris: After high school, we weren’t doing anything really so we just started
TB: Why the Terrible Twos?
Chris: Late night drug induced… I dunno. We had so many band names. We just kept
on screaming them out. It went on for like a month.
TB: What were some of the band names that didn’t make it?
Jonathan: Pixel [Nervous Laughter].
Jeff: The Half-Wits - that was mine.
TB: On the topic of Terrible Twos, Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen - who would you
Chris & Craig: Both.
Jonathan: I definitely did see “New York Minute” on opening day, fo' show.
Everyone: What! Really? No Way?
Craig: Are you serious you saw that movie?
Jonathan: We were fucking wasted. We started drinking at like 9:00 am, piled into a
car and were like, “Fuck yeah, New York Minute!”
Jonathan: It was totally messed up though, there were like three sixty year old
men sitting all by themselves in the back row.
TB: Uh yeah, so… what’s been inspiring you musically lately?
Jonathan: I really like R&B, that’s why I started playing in bands.
Danny: Jay Reatard. We’ve been listening to him in the van.
Craig: Creedence always gets played in the van.
TB: So which one of you has the CCR stick’n’poke?
(Craig pulls up his shirt to reveal a nice little scratcher tattoo on his ribs.)
TB: I have to say I expected something a little more dramatic.
Craig: I have an “M” and a smiley face too! I’m in another band with my friend
Ian, called The Mahonies, we drank a lot of gin one time and gave each other
these tattoos. (Points to smiley face) That was what I always wanted my whole
TB: Going back to Creedence, what Terrible Twos lyric is most like one of CCR’s?
Craig: Hmmm. Maybe just the shouting, like we have those Fogerty shouts, “Wohoo”
“Whohoo.” Yeah, we shout just like John Fogerty.
Chris: Have you ripped him off yet?
Chris: Terrible Twos actually have never done a cover song once.
Jeff: Yeah we did, “Tom Dooley”.
Chris: Oh and I guess we tried a cover of a Screamers song once too.
Danny: I just played the intro on the keyboards and that was it.
Jeff: With all the songs we have, I think it would be kind of stupid for us to
leave one off that we actually wrote just to cover something.
Chris: Holy Shit, good answer.
Craig: Yeah, it’s like you know the psychology of set lists.
TB: So how did you end up going on tour with The Dirtbombs?
Chris: I kind of brought it up to Ben (Blackwell, Dirtbombs drummer) at a party. He was talking
about being on tour and I said he should take us with them. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but it did.
TB: What has it been like playing with them considering that both the crowds and
venues are a little different than what you’re use to?
Danny: Everyone just watches us. They don’t know what to expect.
Craig: People aren’t drunk enough yet. It’s like there’s us, and then there’s
eight feet of wood. It’s like we smell, er something.
Jonathan: But by the time The Dirtbombs come on everyone is nice and sauced!
TB: What’s the scene like these days in Detroit anyways?
Chris: Detroit is awesome. You just need to know where to go.
Jeff: Shows have been really great lately; the right shows will always be
Chris: It’s at the point now where you know if you have a show the same thirty
people will be there at least.
TB: It’s seems to be all about the same thirty people wherever you are.
Chris: Yeah, for real.
Craig: Shout outs! Shout outs! Let’s do shout outs.
TB: On the topic of “Shout Outs”, what was your response to the Detroit Weekly
calling you guys “the future of Detroit rock’n’roll”?
Chris: We didn’t even know the guy who wrote it actually. I thought I’d figured
out who the guy was that wrote it, but I was wrong.
TB: Did you just say you didn’t know him sexually?
Jonathan: I didn’t even know him sexually!?
Chris: No. “Actually”.
Craig: Yeah, we’d just see him around and give him money.
TB: Does it feel a little weird getting that complement from such a mainstream
publication? Does it still have credibility in your eyes?
Chris: I feel like its finally time.
Craig: I like it when people suck on us in the paper!
Chris: A lot of people probably saw the article because when we played the Blow
Out (band showcase in Detroit) another local band called Frustrations played
before us and they had a good crowd, but it was just packed when we played.
Jonathan: And they haven’t been to a show since.(Laughter)
TB: As far as your aspirations for the band, do you have any intention or hope
of being embraced by the hipster masses, like Black Lips or Jay Reatard have
Craig: We gotta get that paper, we gotta get that paper man! Whatever way is the
quickest, we gotta get some p..a..p..e..r!
Danny: However we can get it.
TB: The first time I met you guys I made a total ass out of myself - an incident
I’ll blame on the cheap rum at Beerland - and said you were from Chicago. You
are definitely not from Chicago, as we’ve established, but you did record your
debut album there. Tell me about that experience and how you got involved with
that notorious Englishman Darius and his label Criminal IQ?
Chris: We’d known Darius on and off for a while. Eventually he asked if we
wanted to do a single, we said no, we want to do a full album. And he said okay.
Danny: We recorded with the most awesome dude ever. He was so cool.
Jeff: He had $100 tea.
TB: What’s $100 tea?
Jeff: Fucking shit that tastes really good. We didn’t know it was $100 tea at
the time, but Darius was like, “When you were there did you eat that guys little
tea, that $100 tea?” (Jeff can do a pretty decent Darius Hurley impression
if you’re ever looking for a cheap party trick.)
Craig: He had everything: Wii, Wii TV, bowling, snacks...Mark Freitas (Q Bar
Studios) is an awesome cool guy!
TB: Do you have any other recordings coming out soon?
Chris: We just recorded a seven-inch for Italy Records, which is a Detroit
TB: Any idea when it’s coming out? What will it be called?
Chris: No, but it should be out in the next couple months.
Craig: We recorded six songs at this place called the UFO Factory in Detroit and
it was totally sweet - maybe even sicker than last time in Chicago. This guy
didn’t even have $100 tea and he was still that good.
TB: Talking about things in the works, you guys just had a week off from touring
which you spent in Oregon making a music video for “Pipe Bomb Pipe Bomb,” tell
me about it?
Chris: Two days in a bathroom.
Craig: You gotta wait for it!
Jeff: He sang on the shitter. (Points to Chris)
TB: Ah, I get it now. I get the bathroom theme.
Jonathan: Oh I never got that before! It’s a song about douching.
TB: In a record review someone said, “At no point does this sound like anything
other than a bunch of dudes with nothing better to do.” What else do you guys
Jeff: I make pizzas - it’s all I’ve ever done.
Jonathan: Um, do a whole lot of nothing.
Danny: I make microphones. I lived in Milwaukee for a bit, I moved there for
like six months, and ended up finding a bin of telephone headsets. I bought them
and wanted something to do with them so I turned them into microphones. It was a
long learning process of figuring out the electronics. They’re called Bing
Craig: I teach guitar and valet cars. My phone number is 487-1...(fades)
Chris: So if any crusty girls read this…
TB: What’s something you’re all hoping for in the next six months?
Jeff: Not to get a girl pregnant.
Jonathan: I hope I get to bang Jeff.
'Plunderball' 7" (X!)
'A+A" 7" (Big Neck)
‘Radical Tadpoles' 7" (X!)
s/t LP (Criminal IQ/X!)
Terrible Twos on Myspace.
Interview by Jenny Charlesworth
Photos by Jenny Charlesworth
Map by Terrible Twos
Special thanks to Alabama Matt B. for supervising the interview.