Hermiston tells me she loves touring. Well, travel, mostly. Of being anywhere but here because here (Toronto) can be a hotbed of idle worry. Being on the road is a grueling part of the job for most musicians but it is one of the few ways Hermiston—lead singer and principle member of the jangly rock band Twist— feels content. “‘What is the bigger picture?’ ‘What is this for?’ I think about that a lot [when I’m at home]. When I am touring I don’t think about those things,” she tells me in a cozy café in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. She tells me touring intimidates her sometimes, like whether or not people will be out for Twist shows, how much money the band will make, but the smooth sensation of the physical road and of being on a journey quells any anxieties she may have.
Twist’s sophomore LP, Distancing, is out this Friday via Buzz Records. It’s truly appropriate that the LP’s name is concerned with and focuses on spaces traveled or not traveled, necessary detachments, and depth because movement in all its forms curls itself around the sweet, fuzzy record.
In the summer of 2016, Twist released a more thematically defiant rock record, Spectral . A year later came the Benefits EP . Hermiston describes Twist’s debut record as feeling like an EP to her; lacking a cohesiveness, wishing to re-record some tracks with a newfound comfort and ease in songwriting and production. Distancing, still built upon the foundation of Twist’s tender sounding indie rock, shows an immense amount of growth. Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt was at the production helm yet again, the only position he assumes, Hermiston says. He isn’t part of Twist as her other half, a duo, as has been misreported before. Borcherdt is usually the last stop for Hermiston. She brings songs in their more or less final form to work with on him, ones often written alone or with the other members of the band. Because Twist has a more permanent band now, sonic gaps have filled in, their live sound and performance chemistry sharpened.
Hermiston credits the substantially fuller sound woven throughout Distancing to an overall sense of growing up and feeling good in her musical skin. “The only place I really feel equal—and that’s why I love it so much—is recording music. I feel like my best self when I am writing,” she says.
Distancing is like a perfect road trip LP, hitting every sonic beat (chill, contemplative, raucous, weird) needed for an enjoyable journey to anywhere but here. “Tides,” the record’s opening tracking, sets a roving tone. It begins with drum machines, briefly, before Hermiston’s honeyed vocals and gentle guitar strums come in. Intentionally or not, the song swells and quiets the way an actual tide does; rising during the chorus, settling in the following verses. It is the only track immediately concerned with love, Hermiston tells me. “It’s like being in love with someone at the wrong time, she says, “A friendship like…, ‘I wish I could tell you how I feel but it’s going to fuck everything up.’ It’s not really autobiographical but I’ve been in that position a few times.”
It’s transformative to move on from the things that make you feel small—moving on from the places or loves that aren’t working for you. It’s a luxury to physically do this, to start over, but necessary as a salve anyway. Distancing is that journey, perhaps without any real concrete answers, but it at least nudges us—and Hermiston—toward a place of contentment.