January 11, 2007

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Something strangely familiar
Twinemen is unafraid to experiment
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

During a ten-year span, from 1989 to 1999, the band Morphine made quite a few records and jammed all throughout New England.

After Morphine’s lead, Mark Sandman, died on stage during a performance in ’99, Dana Colley and Billy Conway, the other two members, formed the Orchestra Morphine, a nine-piece collaboration.

The Orchestra Morphine performed a 50-show tour continuing the promotion of Morphine’s final album, The Night. The final performance of the Orchestra Morphine took place on the same stage where Sandman died.

Those are distant but hard-to-forget memories for Colley and Conway, though the spirit of Morphine, in a sense, lives on through Twinemen, an alternative and ambient experimental band that includes both Colley and Conway.

Twinemen, based in Boston, is Laurie Sargent on lead vocals and guitar; Jeremy Curtis on bass; Conway on drums, and Colley on saxophone.

“It’s interesting for us because to some we sound very similar to what we had done before [as Morphine] and to others it doesn’t. It works both ways for us — some may like it because it reminds them of Morphine and some may not,” Conway said.

There are some similarities between Morphine and Twinemen. The unusual instrumentation of Morphine was an odd tradition that Twinemen easily carried over.

“We have a guitar but we don’t really use it like a guitar. We have a saxophone, but he doesn’t really play it like a saxophone. The saxophone is more like the guitar, while the guitar plays more like the saxophone,” Conway said.

“Plus, we use a baritone sax, which is quite a bit deeper in tone scale compared to a tenor sax. We rely heavily on bass lines and grooves instead of a lot of changes. We strive to write the songs that are simple but effective,” he said.

Twinemen gets its name from an old cartoon strip that Morphine used to describe the life of a musician. The original cartoon was of a three-headed twine ball meant to comically reflect what it’s like to play in a band.

The Twinemen find it hard to define their music and they’d prefer to keep it that way. Being defined means you can be compared to others, but being left undefined means that you’re making something different and new.

“It’s the unanswerable question. Alternative rock works for most people but it doesn’t give us justice. Some people say they hear jazz or even blues and every year we get nominated in Boston for roots rock, which I just don’t get,” Sargent said.

Twinemen plans to release a new album, Twine Time, in early spring.

Intwined
Who: Twinemen
When: Saturday, Jan. 13, starting at 8 p.m.
Where: Penuche’s Ale House, 6 Pleasant St., Concord, 228-9833
For more information: Go to twinemen.net or myspace.com/twinemen