by Jay Sandwich
As a fan of Twin Peaks, and specifically the music the show has produced over the years, Season 3 had me wondering, like many fans, about some of the musical acts that were featured at the Bang Bang Bar (commonly referred to as the Roadhouse). Many of these performers were indie acts, with a few exceptions.
The full list of musical performers who performed at the Bang Bang Bar during Season 3 include: Chromatics, The Cactus Blossoms, Au Revoir Simone, Trouble, Sharon Van Etten, Nine Inch Nails, Hudson Mohawke, Rebekah del Rio, Moby, Lissie, The Veils, Eddie Vedder, and Julee Cruise.
The Twin Peaks Season 3 Soundtrack expands on the above list with many other tracks from the show, with the overall musical effect of the entire track list being that of a tour de force.
The music of Twin Peaks has always been exceptional, with the main theme song written by Angelo Badalamenti even winning a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance back in 1991.
The music of Twin Peaks remains unique. In this article, I had the chance to interview one of the members of Au Revoir Simone, Heather D’Angelo, now a Bang Bang Bar band alum, and ask her about her own personal Twin Peaks experience. (skip to the interview)
But first, a bit of context…
In Twin Peaks Seasons 1 and 2, the Roadhouse was established as a location on the show that fit into the nuanced plot written by David Lynch and Mark Frost, and would tie into the overall arc of the show sporadically, with drama between the shows’ characters playing out there from time to time.
The concept of the “Bang Bang Bar”, as it was referred to as more so in Season 3, was also the show’s musical center in seasons 1 and 2. However, Julee Cruise and her band were the only act we see play there during the first two seasons.
As viewers, we can only assume that Julee Cruise was only one act of many to pass through there, but we never get to see any other acts play. Perhaps this is something Lynch sought to correct in this latest season of Twin Peaks.
During the first two seasons, Julee appears there several times throughout the entire run of the show (including the movie prequel, “Fire Walk With Me”), playing her soft, angelic music juxtaposed against some dark, depraved drama taking place in the plot, creating a juxtaposition of both tranquility mixed with violence – an unsettling combination to be sure.
With the Roadhouse being such a seedy juncture in the Twin Peaks world, the idea of such a pure and unfettered sound of one such as Julee Cruise performing in such a dark place was and still is an unlikely proposition.
Fast forward 25 years…
Enter Twin Peaks: Season 3 (The Return), aired in 2017. The plot picks up almost literally 25 years after the finale of Season 2, where Cooper becomes possessed by Bob and delivers his famous line: “How’s Annie?”
This final episode (called “Beyond Life and Death”) to a beloved TV series was not the ending many fans were hoping for, but that’s the way director David Lynch chose to end the show, when this final episode of Season 2 first aired on June 10, 1991.
The reasons for this ending to Season 2 were perplexing to fans, but no less perplexing than the entire run of the show itself up until that point, really.
Still, while hardcore Lynch fans always appreciate a good Lynch-ian twist, more casual (and probably less fanatical for absurdist cinema) fans of the show were left with mild cases of PTSD from watching their beloved Cooper become possessed by the ultimate evil, and then: roll credits.
Perhaps it had something to do with David Lynch not directing the majority of Season 2, and walking away from the show until the final episode, where he comes back with the express purpose to, in his own special way, put an end to the show he started.
As has been reported by various sources (ie. Vanity Fair), David Lynch hates Season 2 more than anyone else could, with the tousle-haired cinematic maverick having been quoted publicly as saying it flat out “sucked”.
Fans would have to wait until 2017 when Season 3 of Twin Peaks finally reached airwaves to see how things would get resolved, and many were likely hopeful that such a gut-wrenching finale would indeed see some sort of satisfying resolution, once Season 3 finally concluded.
Fans of Twin Peaks might have thought a positive outcome to be particularly imminent, considering this was David’s chance to right any directorial and plot-related wrongs done to the show throughout Season 2.
Well, did he? To answer this question would take us well beyond the scope of this article, and so at this time, let’s now return to the topic of…The Bang Bang Bar, and the music we hear there throughout Season 3.
One thing that seemingly had not changed much in the world of Twin Peaks was the Bang Bang Bar.
In the world of Twin Peaks: Season 3, it was still the place in Twin Peaks where various seedy drama and nefarious subplots play out. But this time around, we’re treated to a variety of diverse musical acts.
It was as if the Bang Bang Bar was perhaps doing better business these days, busily booking more bands, and becoming an increasingly hipper place to be, which we, the viewers, we privy to seeing who would turn up week to week. For nostalgic fans, Julee Cruise and James Hurley both come back to the Bang Bang Bar to perform.
Otherwise, we were treated to some fresh faces at the good old Twin Peaks Roadhouse.
Cue: Au Revoir Simone, playing their tune, “A Violent Yet Flammable World”, from Season 3: Episode 9.
Some of the choices for bands who performed at the Bang Bang Bar during the run of Season 3 seemed to be more in line with the world of Twin Peaks that fans know, while other performers were more unexpected.
Au Revoir Simone, who perform on two episodes of the entire Season 3 run of the show , were at once a fitting, and yet somewhat unusual, choice.
Why fitting? Well, here we have, not 1, but 3 silky-voiced chanteuses playing ethereal, melancholic music in a slow, pulsating manner. This is enough, perhaps, to qualify them as a good fit for the rather happening, and yet fictional, venue.
Why unusual? It seems that in the intervening years between Seasons 2 and 3 of Twin Peaks, the always and forever-to-be stuck-in-the-past environs of the show have been forced to admit that yes, even in a seemingly timeless setting, time is passing.
Hence, Au Revoir Simone have their synths in tow, and there is no particular attention drawn to their synthpop nature. Perhaps now Twin Peaks is a world that has caught up to as far as the 1980’s, rather than being a throwback to the ’50’s or ’60’s.
(The interview begins…)
It seems that curiosity got the better of me. I felt the need to reach out to the bands who played at the Bang Bang Bar during the run of Twin Peaks: Season 3, in order to satisfy my fan-boyish urge to know more about these bands, and how they managed to appear on the show.
And so, here is my conversation with Heather D’Angelo, who is one third of Au Revoir Simone, discussing the bands’ appearance on the show and how it all came to pass. Enjoy!
When did you start writing music?
Au Revoir Simone started out as a cover band, actually, working on covers of 80’s and 90’s songs from different genres. We were just doing this for fun, as friends getting together and seeing how it went.
Back in the early 2000’s, we (Annie Hart, Erika Forster, and I) used to jam together, when we were all living in Brooklyn, and decided to form an all-girl keyboard band, since all of us played keyboards and we thought that all of us playing synths would be pretty entertaining. Eventually, each of us was armed with multiple synths – sometimes we’d have 9 going at once!
As far as our covers went, it turned out that our covers were too idiosyncratic to be just covers – they had their own sound – so that gave us the notion to start doing our own songs. And it all began there!
Eventually, we got enough material together for a little EP called Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation.
Weirdly enough, a Japanese label and a British label picked up the EP, but we didn’t get any attention in the US – no one cared.
Moshi Moshi already were a well known indie label in England at this point, with bands like Hot Chip on their roster. They were the ones that kind of operate on a new level, by saying “Ok, you guys are going to work with this PR company, etc.”, giving us tips on how to be a bit more professional.
So how did these labels come across your music, which then lead to your encounter with David Lynch?
They became aware of us through an indie music blog from the early days of the internet.
My good friend, Matthew Perpetua, is like the godfather of the music blogs. I think he actually had the very first music blog out there on the web in the late 90’s, called Fluxblog. There may have been one other one at the time, as these things tend to pop up in the zeitgeist at around the same time, but he was definitely one of the first.
Fluxblog was very popular for indie music and Moshi Moshi used to read his blog. Matthew used to write about our band when we first started, as he was a big fan of synthpop, and indie acts, and so Moshi Moshi read one of his features on us.
Steven Bass and Michael McClatchey then got a hold of our EP, which, at the time, was something we were screen printing ourselves in Annie’s bedroom and trying to distribute ourselves.
By the time we got to our first actual mature album, The Bird of Music, that was put out by both Rallye and Moshi Moshi, which had proper artwork and distribution.
The Bird of Music is what eventually ended up in the hands of David Lynch in 2007.
How did that come about?
There was a really cool event going on at Barnes & Noble in New York for some time, where they’d promote an author and then pair that author up with a band.
A music supervisor for Barnes & Noble would seek out a band that they felt would match the author, and the author would do a reading from their new book, and a band would play during the reading, or between chapters. It was pretty cool.
The music supervisor at Barnes & Nobles was trying to get us to do one of these events for some time, but it wasn’t working out, as we were always on tour, or the timing just wasn’t right.
But one day the music supervisor called and told us that David Lynch was promoting a new book, at the time, called Catching the Big Fish, and she thought that our music would pair really well with his work.
The book was about meditation, and she thought we could play some of our more dreamy material.
So we said “yeah”, because this time it worked with our schedules, and plus, it sounded really cool, so we did it!
But it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for David’s sound supervisor, Dean Hurley, hadn’t heard our music, liked it, and passed it on to David, who also liked it.
So, we then met David at the actual Barnes and Noble event, where we played, and he read from his book.
(cue: a short clip from that show in 2007)
This was the beginning of your collaboration…which would have been about 10 years before Twin Peaks: Season 3 aired.
Yes. Back in 2007.
That’s pretty cool that you encountered him that way. His output is very varied, so to connect with him on a book reading is very cool. Were you aware of all of these things that he does at the time? For example, the books, the albums, the artwork, and so forth.
We were aware of him, generally speaking, but we didn’t know just how many things he was involved with.
The event at Barnes & Noble was amazing. That particular location of Barnes & Noble was something else – it was huge, like 4 or 5 storeys, and jam packed with people. Just a massive, massive, MASSIVE building.
And when he was there, it was unbelievable – every floor, just shoulder to shoulder people, all trying to catch a glimpse of him.
For those who weren’t on the top floor, there was kind of a play-by-play being piped through their sound system, like one big listening party, and everyone was there just soaking it up. It was then that we clued in to just how huge his fanbase actually is.
Were you into his stuff prior to this show?
Yeah, I really liked Blue Velvet, and his movies in general, but I wasn’t really a fanatic. Same with Annie and Erika – we just knew of him, as most people do. I had not watched Twin Peaks, though. It just never crossed my radar. I guess I was just too young.
I didn’t catch the show when it came out either, but a friend of mine recommended I watch Twin Peaks when I was in high school, so around ’95, as he thought it would be up my alley, and it was. Had you seen any of his other movies?
Some of them. I saw Mulholland Drive, which I enjoyed, and I was going to watch Inland Empire, but a friend of mine saw it and he was so traumatized by it, I didn’t really feel like watching it.
Yeah, Lynch seems to be very good at making very unsettling films that confuse and disturb people, as well as anticipating peoples’ expectations (especially fans) and then defying them. I couldn’t make it through Inland Empire either! That’s why I was wondering how Season 3 of Twin Peaks was going to turn out, considering his work seemed to be getting progressively more abstract.
Well, we have had the opportunity to collaborate with David several times over the years, since 2007, and so we were getting comfortable trusting his creative and aesthetic choices. For instance, we worked with him on a retrospective he did for his work in Paris at the Foundation Cartier.
(cue: video clip from that exhibition)
(interview…continued) He had rebuilt a setting from Eraserhead at the gallery, and we were to perform in this setting. So, he managed to incorporate our music into this production, and we were like, “Hell yeah!” and so we did it, and it was great!
Another time he invited us to play at Silencio, his private club in Paris. Again, this is a beautiful club with a red-draped stage, and he was gracious enough to invite us into his world, which we have always been more than happy to do.
(cue: Llorando scene, from Mullholand Drive, filmed at Silencio)
(back to the interview…)
Over the years, we’ve remained friends, and would visit him in L.A., checking in from time to time. He’s been very encouraging, incredibly sweet, and a great mentor to us.
Prior to the return of Twin Peaks, he was mentioning it would be good to work on something together, and we thought that would be great, although we weren’t counting on it.
We knew that historically, David has worked with Julee Cruise, Angelo Badalamenti, and so we weren’t really expecting to work on any major projects with him, per se. He seemed to have his inner circle of collaborators, and so we thought it was nice of him to suggest a collaboration, but, again, we weren’t expecting anything.
But then, we got the call from Dean Hurley, David’s longtime musical collaborator, who informed us that David was going to re-launch Twin Peaks, and was seeking out bands to be part of the show, and he was hoping we’d take part. Before we knew it, we’d said “yes” and we were part of the production.
We’d never really worked with David before in terms of being part of one of his movies, and so we didn’t really know what we were in for.
None of Au Revoir Simone were actors, but we flew to L.A., and we arrived at this house, that looked like a community center from the outside, and we found that they had recreated, in minute detail, the Bang Bang Bar. It was like, “Oh my god, I’m in the Roadhouse!” Even though, outside it was hot and sweaty, this set made you believe you were in the Pacific north west, like Washington state. It was insane!
We had no idea what was going on. We didn’t know who was playing, or when, or how to dress. We had no guidance of what to wear, which was particularly odd because the fashion of Twin Peaks is so particular. We didn’t know which decade we were supposed to appear to be from. ’80’s? ’90’s? Now? Rock stars, or not? We didn’t know. We decided to just go with a “classic” look.
We knew he was going to ask us to do two of our songs, which we did. It was lip synched. This wasn’t like Saturday Night Live. We performed our songs, it didn’t take too long, and then we left. Time passed, we didn’t hear anything at first. Eventually, we heard from David, and he said “Great job!”, so we thought “Great!”
We were still very confused as to how this would all play out. We still didn’t know if he was going to be using the footage of us playing, or just use our recordings on the soundtrack. Would it be both songs, one song? Just a snippet?
We didn’t see how any of it turned out until the show aired. Eventually, we were told to keep our eyes open for Episodes 4 and 9. We saw it on TV like everyone else.
(cue: band playing their song, “Lark”, from their album, “The Bird of Music”, during Season 3: Episode 4 of Twin Peaks.
(back to the interview…)
For both episodes, I had Twin Peaks’ parties in San Francisco, but I told my friends that if I didn’t show up on screen, not to be surprised. We weren’t promised anything, so then when we did appear, and we had a fair bit of screen time, I was shocked!
Both songs were edited, but that made sense, for the purpose of the episode sequencing. Still, it was entirely a surprise that we even made it on the show at all!
I guess you didn’t get to sit down and watch the “dailies”, huh?
No, we are not from the film industry, so that didn’t even occur to us. There wasn’t even hair and make-up, so how we presented ourselves was completely up to us. Had there been a hair dangling in the wrong spot, I don’t know if David would have brought it up or not. It all happened so fast.
We had been on photo shoots before, where people fussed over our appearance a lot more than this instance. So that’s surprising, that we were now committed to tape for an iconic show like Twin Peaks, which will be seen by our children and children’s children, and we weren’t really prepped in any way for this. I just knew that we were performing, and David was there, behind the camera, capturing every bead of sweat.
Was the lip synching difficult? What kind of direction did he give you?
We weren’t given any direction, so we just tried to channel our best collective Julee Cruise vibe. We had basic instructions as to when to start lip synching, and that was about it.
You were saying there were other bands there at that point?
We saw some of the other bands, but we didn’t really see too many other bands. For the most part, we were just in and out. We heard there was a shoot for the other bands on another day, but we weren’t there for that.
Are any of you particularly influenced by Julee Cruise, what with the hushed, angelic vocals, and all that? Were you told to emulate her in any way for the show?
No, not at all. We are fans of hers, for sure – especially Erika – but there was no mention of us sounding like her, or us trying to sound like her.
Our influences are Stereolab, Bjork, Pavement, Air…Broadcast is a huge influence. I personally am very into Air and Stereolab.
Definitely, I love Pavement.
Are you guys formally trained musically in any way?
No, we’re all self-taught.
How do you come up with your songs, as a band?
We all have input in each others songs, although usually, someone writes a song, initially, and brings it in. That’s when we begin to shape the songs to fit Au Revoir Simone. Nothing is really off limits for discussion, and it ends up being an equal process in the end. No one has more representation in the band – it’s equal parts all three of us.
No creative differences? Wow, nice.
There are differences, but as a trio, there can always be a critical voice if someone is strongly against something, and we like it that way. We can push and pull the songs until we are all happy with the result, but it’s not always easy to come to a consensus. For instance, if someone doesn’t like a bassline, or some other musical element, we talk about it, until we can all agree on something.
How do you feel now that you are on the Lynch fan radar? Do you consider yourself to be on that radar?
Yes, we are aware that his fans are now paying more attention to us, with many of them being very passionate. It’s cool.
And how has that balanced out with your entire fanbase overall?
Well, our old school fans are the best! Like, if ever there’s any sort of hardcore Twin Peaks fans who don’t approve of us for some reason, our old school fans will jump to our defence. It doesn’t happen much, and besides, that’s just how it is on Youtube. People debate all the time. For instance, why did we get picked for the soundtrack and not some other “dreamy” sounding pop band? Maybe someone more like Julee Cruise should have been picked, some might say. All in all, everyone has their own opinion. We encourage discussion, and we appreciate different views.
Fair enough. Did you bump into any other cast members at all while you were there filming? I happened to watch some interview with Kyle MacLachlan, where he said that he didn’t even see any of the show until it was on the air, or really knew what was going to happen overall? Kind of amazing, since he was basically the show’s star.
It doesn’t surprise me. There’s an element of secrecy to all of this. Plus, I think that everything was shot individually. We didn’t really interact with the cast very much.
Did you talk to Mark Frost (Twin Peaks co-creator) at all?
No, I didn’t.
So you never read any of this Twin Peaks books – The Final Dossier or The Secret History of Twin Peaks?
No, I’ve just heard of them. Haven’t read them yet.
They’re interesting, if you are into the sort of “bigger picture” of Twin Peaks, and the mythology and sort of subterfuge that goes into the show. They act as companion pieces, and they’re really cool if a fan wants to dive deeper into that world, as they let you in on some of the more secretive elements. For any fans out there, I’d totally recommend them! But anyway, what happened after Season 3 wrapped up. What changed for Au Revoir Simone?
I have seen David twice since the show aired. One at the Festival of Disruption in Brooklyn, and another time back in L.A., after Season 3 had aired. When I saw him last, I had just watched all of the episodes of Season 3 and I had a million questions that I wanted to ask him. So it was hard to not geek out on Twin Peaks and ask him lots of questions. I did get a few things out of him, but generally, we didn’t talk about that much.
I did, however, mention to him how much I loved Episode 8, as it was so groundbreaking and probably the best thing to be aired on television ever. I had a chance to dork out with Dean Hurley, but he really doesn’t have the inside scoop on Twin Peaks either. No one but David and Mark know the whole story. It’s always fun to speculate, though.
How did you feel about the ending of Season 3?
I liked it. I am a fan of cliffhangers, though. Besides, if you expect anything by David to wrap up with a neat little bow, you’ll probably be disappointed. So I didn’t expect the show to end in any neat and tidy way. Which it didn’t.
Check out Heather’s new fragrance line – Carta
About Jay Sandwich
Jay is an ex-shred guitar player and current modular synth noodler from a small town somewhere. Quote: “I’m a salty old sandwich with a perspective as fresh as bread.” No bull.