More than twenty years after the premiere of Twin Peaks, fans are still obsessing over the cult series known for its bizarre walk between unique humor and pure darkness — finding themselves spiraling down into the underbelly lurking beneath the placid façade into a dichotomous world that mixes the intrigue of murder and mystery with the saccharine lust for cherry pie and coffee. For the 20th anniversary of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, 92Y Tribeca is hosting a series of Lynchian events, and this Saturday Silent Drape Runners (made up of Flavorpill‘s Russ Marshalek and Sophie Weiner) will perform a live rescoring of the acclaimed series titled Twin Peaks: The Beginning. We caught up with Russ and Sophie before their performance to see how the musical pairing came about, their favorite Twin Peaks moments, and which characters they connect with the most. (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
So how did you two form Silent Drape Runners?
Russ Marshalek: I had a monthly DJ night at Veronica People’s Club in Greenpoint and eventually started to conceptualize all these weird and random parties I would want to throw. One night, I got really drunk and was talking to my resident bar tender and I was like, I have an idea for Halloween — I’m going to do a resoundtrack of Twin Peaks, and he thought that was awesome. So then I remember that I was going to have to actually do that [and realized] DJing by myself to Twin Peaks on mute with closed captioning is really boring. It just so happened that right as I was thinking I needed to add something I had a friend in from out of town and we went to a Mexican restaurant that had late night karaoke. Sophie was with us and ended up singing karaoke and I was like, Yes! That’s it, that’s what I need. I need that girl and I need her to sing. The first night we performed went so well that the bar asked us to do it again, so we ended up doing different episodes. Sort of in the process of that it, we realized we had similar ideas of what this project should sound like so we thought, Why don’t we make it into a band? And I think we were throwing out band name ideas and I suggested Silent Drape Runners.
Do you usually sing or is this a new thing for you?
Sophie Weiner: I mean, I’ve been singing for maybe like six years but I never had an aspiration to really do anything about it. I also play guitar and ukulele and would just play covers, and I have a few original songs but was never trying to be a musician or anything. Given the opportunity, I was like, I want to do this because basically I don’t know anything really technical about music. I have a harder time coming up with melodies but I can write lyrics. Russ and I were sort of jokingly like, We can be like The Postal Service but creepy!
So is the music you play for the Twin Peaks rescoring different than what you play when you’re just performing as a band?
SW: There’s some overlap basically. We did a bunch of covers for both the Twin Peaks nights and then some of them morphed into songs because they’re really weird and different, like our cover of “God Only Knows.” When we did the shows at VCP, it was like two hours long and this time we’re only doing the first episode so it’s about an hour. We basically look at the episode and think what would be cool or weird or funny.
RM: It’s trying to keep with the Lynchian spirit of having things be dark but also playful. For example, there’s a scene in the second episode of Twin Peaks with Leo and Shelly and last time we performed it, she sang Britney Spears’s “Toxic” over it. There’s a kind of irreverence to it. I try to look at it from as meta a way as I can, like what would somebody who was a superfan be really into having happen right now? So the hardest thing is trying to find music for Dale Cooper because everything is one step too far. You can’t actually play the James Bond theme.
SW: We still want it to be more artistic and less “LOL, we’re playing silly songs that people know.”
So were you really huge Twin Peaks fans?
SW: I had actually never seen the show before we started doing this. I watched it in the three weeks up until we did it. I’d seen Eraserhead and knew Lynch, so I had an idea of what his deal was. Russ was a big fan.
RM: I got my ex-girlfriend the gold box of Twin Peaks for Christmas one year and so all of Christmas that’s all we did. That was my first time [seeing it], and I was like, This is so fucked up! But yes, big fan.
Do you have any favorite Twin Peaks moments?
SW: I’d say my favorite scene is Laura Palmer’s funeral. I just think it’s super hilarious. I cracked up for like the minutes when that happened. Or anything involved with the Log Lady.
RM: I love, after Dale Cooper gets shot, every scene with him in that episode after he wakes up. It’s just so spectacular; all of the stuff with the giant is absolutely phenomenal. I also like the big reveal of Bob, I think that image is burned in my mind forever.
I’d say one of my favorites is when Jimmy Scott singing “Sycamore Trees” in the Red Room.
RM: Also the last episode.
I feel like most of the second season was kind of crap after the Leland reveal, and I think David Lynch wasn’t too pleased either so by the end he needed to clean it up. Like Billy Zane? What even was that? Anyway, if you could identify with anything Twin Peaks what or who would it be? Could be a piece of pie.
SW: I guess I’d have to say Audrey even though that’s such a stereotypical answer. It’s just because of all the girls are just so… I hate Donna, I hate Laura.
RM: Laura’s actually a terrible person!
SW: I feel like that adds to the weird creepiness of it, you can tell from the beginning that she wasn’t the great person everyone thought she was. I feel like Audrey starts out awful and gets a lot better.
RM: She has a stupid dance though. I hate her stupid dance. But I’d say Dale Cooper. I love that he has this sort of wide-eyed, childlike nature about him, and at his core he has this deep unflappable innocence. I think that that’s so interesting.
SW: Also, what other male characters could you even be?
You’re not going to say like, Ben Horne!
RM: When Ben sings “Mairzy Dotes” — that is one of my favorite moments. It’s incredible.
Or anything after Leland’s hair turns gray. Have you guys seen Fire Walk With Me?
SW: We both haven’t. We heard it’s bad.
You aren’t just a Twin Peaks band, right? That’s only part of it?
SW: Although Twin Peaks was the inspiration or the beginning of our band, it was just the jumping-off point. We have a lot of other sort of strange ideas about what our band is going to be. We have this blog called pseudoprofoundelectrnicartists where we basically we just make fun of ridiculous electronic artists, like Pictureplane and John Maus and Salem. But we like almost all of these artists.
RM: Yeah, all this music is great but it takes itself so seriously.
SW: Some of the direction we’re going in is making music that’s sort of in those genres but also kind of being self-aware about the silliness of it.
RM: Some of the songs we’ve made are totally seapunk songs and we know they are.
SW: We didn’t know that when we made it though.
What the hell is seapunk?
RM: If you took rave and chill wave and witch house and combined it.
SW: It’s basically made by just fifteen year olds who are into dolphins and electronic music in the Midwest. It’s this weird thing where we like these things but just recognize how silly they are. So that’s sort of the direction we’re headed in. We have a song called “Fake Yoga.”
RM: It’s a crowd favorite.
So what sort of non-silly influences do you guys have?
SW: We have a song called “Tense” that’s pretty serious.
RM: That owes a great debt of gratitude to like early Nine Inch Nails. For me musically, it’s about interesting intelligent emotional electronic stuff. I would say our serious influences are like Portishead.
SW: Like the vibe of Twin Peaks definitely.
Because you guys are such a new act, were you surprised by how quickly the event sold out?
SW: Yeah, we did like zero promotion. Everyone just loves Twin Peaks. We were shocked.
Are you nervous?
RM: It’s not so much that I’m nervous, but my part of the live stuff is so much because I’m watching and I don’t have perfectly planned out what I’m going to play when. That’s boring to me. So having to respond very, very quickly to things wears on my nerves, but I’m really happy we’re just doing it.