Twin Temple wear matching pink outfits.

“Shorter Skirts, More Blasphemy”: An Interview with Twin Temple

Music Interviews

Twin Temple, comprised of Alexandra (vocals) and Zachary James (guitar), are as uniquely talented as they are simply unique. Their signature sound and aesthetic, which the married duo have dubbed “Satanic Doo-Wop,” takes all of devil worshipping’s most beloved elements—blood, sex, magic and liberation—and wraps it up in the delightful charm of the retro, swingin’ rock n’ roll that conjures up images of old time-y jukeboxes. Ahead of their Salt Lake City show at The Depot on March 12, I had the chance to chat with Twin Temple about their influences, imagery and what makes their current God Is Dead tour extra special (read: Satanic).

The band cites their style influences—in both music and fashion— as The Shangri-La’s, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Ronnie Spector and Anton LaVey. They aren’t hoping to be intentionally shocking or subversive in their fusion of influences, but rather believe that “the blending of the two seeming opposites is a combination of [their] two obsessions.” Twin Temple’s niche style is their “mustache on the Mona Lisa, so to speak—when Duchamp defaced Da Vinci’s great masterwork, he both brought it into a contemporary dialogue and simultaneously obliterated the piece as an object of reverence.” In short, they “both deify and destroy” the concepts they draw inspiration from. Twin Temple’s satanic beliefs don’t align with conservative propaganda’s interpretation of the devil; they feel that people are “born Satanists” and that Satanism, at its core, is a celebration of free will, individualism, inclusion and nonconformity. Their progressive, punk-as-fuck beliefs and approach to creating art has led to an enthusiastic embrace from the greater metal scene. 

One of the most common threads that weaves their dreamy discography together, aside from Satanism, is pro-choice beliefs about women’s autonomy—explicitly demonstrated on the track “Be A Slut” from their latest album, God Is Dead. Twin Temple sees the stinging relevance of this topic: “Whether [it’s] the 1960s or 1660s, we’re still burning witches.” God Is Dead is composed of the same retro harmonies and tongue-in-cheek blasphemous, socio-political and romantic themes as Twin Temple’s 2018 debut album, Twin Temple (Bring You Their Signature Sound…. Satanic Doo-Wop), but with a different approach to the recording process. The band sought to imitate the “wall of sound” production of the ‘60s by recording each instrument themselves and “layering them to recreate that aesthetic.”

“Whether [it’s] the 1960s or 1660s, we’re still burning witches.”

As their Salt Lake City show approaches, I feel obligated to ask them about what it’s like to play in a state so well-known for its uptight religious standards and cultish obsession with modesty and sexual purity. The band finds that “the more repressed the area is, the hornier the crowds are.” That’s not to say that their shows in conservative areas have always been so positively received, though—they’re well-acquainted with pearl-clutching protestors, especially after the brain-rotted, attention-seeking radio host Alex Jones threw a public tantrum over their beliefs and imagery. Getting wrapped up in the contemporary rehash of “Satanic panic” hasn’t seemed to faze Twin Temple much, as they admit that they’re “hoping there will be more protests outside [their] concert” this time in SLC. They have no grand intentions of sending a particular message to the crowds out here, only to “be [them]selves, play the music [they] love and give people a little joy, pleasure, liberation, magick and rock n’ roll for an evening.”

“The more repressed the area is, the hornier the crowds are.”

Longtime fans who have previously been included in Twin Temple’s rituals can expect even more thrilling stage production: a lighting director, upside-down cross set pieces and, of course, new music. Each tour the duo embarks on leaves them with a desire to up the ante, “getting closer to [their] dream production, little by little.” They ensure that returning witnesses to their magic can prepare themselves for “more pink, more rhinestones, shorter skirts [and] more blasphemy.” Though Utah may not be able to offer the tethered black goat requested on their rider (that The Wiltern once delivered), in an ever-tense world marred by joylessness and oppression, glamor, sex appeal, good old-fashioned rock n’ roll and unadulterated blasphemy might be just the thing we need. 

Don’t miss Twin Temple on their God Is Dead tour at The Depot on Tuesday, March 12 with special guest VOWWS.

Read more national music interviews:
Alison Mosshart Talks God Games, The Kills’ Upcoming SLC Show and Doing Donuts
Set in Stone: An Interview with Nick Jost of Baroness