I don’t think Double Winter is necessarily reinventing any proverbial wheels when it comes to post-punk and dark-pop, but I still can’t resist the grooves they cultivate. Singer/bassist Holly Johnson notes a proclivity toward “psych-rock, doo-wop, and scrappy-pop…” and I couldn’t put it better than that. In this interview, I try to get at the magic that IS: Double Winter.
The Detroit-based quartet is in the finishing stages of a new full length album, and this week they’re playing a few dates with the nationally-renowned Michigan surf-punk/garage-pop outfit Protomartyr, including a stop, this Saturday, at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.
The band features Augusta Rose on electric violin, Morgan McPeak on drums, and Vittorio Vettraino on guitar. This is a sweetly sinister kind of pop, splashed with ultraviolet intrigue and murky mystery, sped along at percussive tempos of danger and dynamism that can be slowed down to a woozy daydream waltz; the guitars glide and punch with something that could be Joy Division as much as its Link Wray, the bass has verve akin to delightfully unhinged no-wave jazz, and the electric violins (and harmonized vocals) add a certain bedazzlement to the soundscape.
The group just got back from SXSW, which, Johnson said, “was a pure and utter whirlwind…”
When you see them at the Blind Pig this Saturday, you’ll likely hear a lot of their new songs – which will be featured on the forthcoming full-length. “(The new songs) definitely show how we’ve progressed as a group that makes music together,” said Johnson, who also performs with Vettraino in another group called Real Ghosts. “As a group (with Double Winter), we’ve become more confident and comfortable creating music both as a band and as singular musicians.”
When they went out to work with Bill Skibbe at Key Club Recording Company over in Benton Harbor, a gigantic blizzard crashed down around them, forcing the four of them to stay inside and truly zone-in on the creation process.
“I’d say the glue that keeps us together, that keeps all of us wanting to hang around, practice, tour, continue to make music, and see where this goes comes down to two key elements: the first being, we’re friends! We’d be hanging out regardless of whether or not we were in a band; so having that foundation is why we work well. We like each other! The band helps us learn more about each other, and actually create something tangible out of our relationships.” Johnson followed that up by saying she knows how mushy that sounds “…but it’s true!”
But the second element that creates the Double Winter magic is the diversity of musical taste and backgrounds between the four players, causing a healthy whimsicality that causes a composite of several genres.
“It’s quite the smorgasbord,” Johnson said. “hough we agree on loads of music, we each, personally, listen to different stuff. Morgan is coming at us with her smooth funk, Augusta is bringing avant-garde strangeness, Vittorio has guitar sounds from garage rock and shoegaze to post-punk and everything in-between, and I suppose I bring minimal post-punk style as well as some poppy new wave….”
Let’s hear some more…
The forthcoming album is untitled, at the moment… I couldn’t let Holly go, though, until I got the story behind that band name: Double Winter…
I could lie and tell you a story about how Augusta fell through the ice one time, causing her to lose two toes via frostbite… but I don’t want to lie to you, Jeff… Do you remember the winter of the polar vortex? That was around the time the band was forming, so it felt fitting. It seems that Michigan tends to have a ‘double winter.’ Right when you think winter is over and spring is coming, it snows four inches. I enjoy the symbolism of that; eliminate your expectations…”