Twiddle is probably one of the hottest names in the Rock/Jam scene today. It seems as if every year these 4 friends from Vermont are playing bigger shows and larger festivals. What once began as a dream in the minds of college friends this band has found itself on stage with some of the biggest names in music today. We recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of Brook Jordan about the history of Twiddle, what inspires them and what they have in store for the future.
Could you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
Brook: We started at Castleton State College which is now Castleton University and Ryan and Mickey were Freshman there. They met at Orientation believe it or not before school even started. They had already made plans to start a band and play some music together. That happened during the start of the school year, Mickey was in the pit band for the production of “Hair”. Through that he met my friend Billy Comstock, who was a senior in high school. Through billy; being a very talented musician, got into the Castleton production even though he was in high school. Micky and ryan had already been writing music in their dorm room. He and Mickey met and that was the first three there. I knew Billy and was playing music with him. They needed a drummer and that was me. Billy played with us for about two years before moving on to Berkeley to do some personal stuff. Then we found Zdenek and brought him on at age 17 and never looked back. We have been going strong for 12 years now. I think it was luck and fate that brought me together with those guys because, there are hundreds of thousands of musicians that we will never be able to touch ability wise. That’s not to say we aren’t talented but we were lucky to find the right crew. The right people that we get along with that are friends. I have heard it from multiple people on the tour that we are a tight group. We like to spend time together and we like to buy each other gifts. I feel very lucky to be doing this with my best friends.
So what is it about the Rock/Jam Genre that you like the most? Out of all the genres that you could play, even the more commercial stuff what made you pick this one?
Brook- I think it’s because we all have a background in that. Other than Ryan because we have turned him on to a lot of music. He was taught in Jazz and classical music. Which honestly gives us a melting pot of influences that’s for sure. All of us have a rock background except for Ryan. We all have been there you know? We have angst as a younger person and that type of music sets in with you. Zdenek, myself and mickey were all into harder music when we were younger. Early influences like Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine for me. We have grown away from stuff like that obviously but I like music with feeling, we all like music with soul, that has a feeling. Something that evokes an emotion. Rock music can do that. It doesn’t have to be positive all the time. Good music is good music. Honestly, We like it all. I don’t consider ourselves a straight up rock band, it is kind of difficult to describe our music. Energy too, we all like music that has an energy but at times we don’t. That is why we like the ebb and flow of jam music. Where you can go with the peaks and the valleys all in one song.
Is it difficult to Jam and improvise? Do you guys talk about it ahead of time or do you ever go out there and say “We have no set list tonight, let’s just free flow and see what happens?
Brook: We have done both before. Now that the shows have got a little more serious along the lines of people paying money to see us. We want to put our best foot forward, obviously. There have times where we have gone out and done just a 3-song set. Maybe an hour or so it was. There are times where we go out there and want to jam and see where we can go. Exploring to see where we can go and come back but we have also matured some and learned how to read a crowd. So, if it’s a bigger performance and we are opening for somebody and we are in front of a lot of people, you feel like it’s better to not jam as much. To get more content out there and varied so we can try to get into people’s minds or get under their skin, in a good way. You know? To hook them. Maybe play a song that they are really digging on and that gets into their heads so they can seek out our other stuff. Mickey writes the set list every night just to keep it easy. He writes it and then we discuss it. Half the time he doesn’t even want to make the set list but it just makes it easier. Again, we have matured as a band so now maybe even mid set we will read the crowd and switch things around based on what they are doing. Nothing is set in stone, that is part of what we love about the band. We have pulled covers out of nowhere and just done things really spur of the moment.
So who inspires you musically? Was there ever a show that ever triggered your love for music or a performance that inspired you so much it made you say, “I need to start playing drums”?
Brook: I can’t remember specifically what the urge was for me to start playing drums. I started when I was 10. I also started playing hockey at 5 and I can’t remember what made me want to play hockey but I just liked doing it. I played that for thirteen years. I am not sure what sparked my interest in music originally. I do know that between my sophomore and junior year of high school I got turned on to Phish and The Grateful Dead and I had been listening to more punk and hardcore metal music up to that point. I was pretty much living at the skatepark and that is what we were listening to there. Once I heard Phish and started indulging in cannabis and whatnot my tastes changed. Phish made me realize what I could do with music. Hearing Fishman play drums, He wasn’t just playing back beats or a beat on a full song with fills. He was an orchestrated, quintessential part of the music. I had never heard music like that, where a drummer was playing rhythms that way. He really threw me for a loop and opened my mind to that whole thing. The first Phish show I went to when I was 16, was at the Pepsi arena and is now the Times union. My buddies step brother brought us and then I saw Phish 3 more times before Coventry was over. Seeing them for the first time in that environment while being 16 blew me away. I hadn’t been to many concerts at the time. It was system overload. It wasn’t just the music it was the people. I knew at that time it was something I wanted to get into and be a part of and emulate. I guess it started with Phish but again we are a melting pot. Zdenek is still into the hard stuff these days. He has turned me onto bands like Mastadon. We run the gamut. It’s a funny question. People ask me who my favorite drummer is but it’s like sports. I like playing sports but I don’t like watching it as much so it’s hard for me to say. I would rather just do it than watch it.
You guys played a lot great shows and festivals this summer. Was there any show in particular that stands out as the best show or best festival?
Brook- This last weekend we just did three nights at The Warehouse in Connecticut, I thought those shows were really on point. The highlight for me would have to be Tumbledown on the waterfront in Burlington. Last year we had Page sit in with us and this year we had Phil sit in with us from the Grateful dead. We didn’t just do one song with him, we did three. So that was pretty amazing and it blows my mind that we are able to put on event going on for the second year in our hometown. We had almost 4,000 people on Saturday there, it’s very exciting and rewarding to see all your hard work finally be manifested and appreciated. It’s a feeling unlike anything else that is for sure. Then on top of that, from a music standpoint getting to play music with an original member of the Grateful dead for not just a minute but multiple songs was literally a dream come true. I got to spend some time with him later that night at Higher ground just one on one. That was incredible, that kind of stuff. That to me was really amazing. Family Gathering is also one of my favorite weekends of the summer. We do that every summer so yeah It was a great summer man and we played some really big shows.
Do you ever get Star Struck around some of these musicians?
Brook- I definitely do get a little star struck sometimes but you just gotta keep it together. You gotta realize too, we are all just humans. Everyone is the same and respect gets respect. You gotta carry yourself well. You can’t be stuttering and saying weird stuff to them. I try to take a second to compose myself and not say something stupid. We are all just people though. You just need to carry yourself and be a genuinely nice person, which I feel like we all are in the band.
You guys have a big show coming up with Pretty Lights soon, he is an EDM DJ as you know. Is it ever difficult to play shows with mixed genres? Do you feel like it’s a challenge to win over new fans?
Brooks- I have been a fan of Pretty Lights before anyone knew Pretty Lights. I have seen him a bunch of times and have met and hung out with him. We were watching Spongle together getting stoned at Bisco. When we were done smoking I handed him a Twiddle Lighter. I am a huge, huge Pretty Lights fan. I have been singing his praises for years back when I was in college, I have been listening to him for close to 10 years. So for me that is star struck like shit. I also write music like that in my spare time and when I have free time I do some electronic stuff like that on my laptop. I am into Daft Punk and stuff like that, where it’s just straight beats. I am not a huge fan of the Woooow wooohw dubstep style. When it comes to us playing shows like that we just decide to do what we are going to do. We maybe stay away from a couple songs or this and that but do have a couple of songs that have an electronic influence but I don’t think we going to pander to people. We got invited to do this and we didn’t have to beg and plead so we are just going to do what we do. So hopefully they will enjoy it. I appreciate people who like all types of music. I think people are going to be receptive and I think it is going to be a fun show. I am really looking forward to that one.
So what does the rest of 2017 going into 2018 hold for you guys? Do you have anything coming out next year or cool shows?
Brook- We start our fall tour in Rochester on the 21st. We have also got a show at The Space in Westbury on November 22nd which is Long Island. We haven’t done much in Long Island so I am looking forward to it. I have looked at pictures and it is a really nice venue. All my extended family lives in that area and they have only got the chance to see me one time. It will be cool to have my extended family come out and get a glimpse into my life and what I have been doing all this time. They have heard the music but haven’t really had the chance to really see us live. We also have a two nights at the Capitol Theater November 24th and 25th which is a crazy, huge amazingly beautiful venue that blows my mind. This will be our second time playing a show there. We also have some New Years stuff coming up but I can’t tell you about that yet. That and the Pretty Lights show for me is going to be really bad ass. We don’t go out on tours longer than a month. We try not to wear ourselves out and we are all doing just fine being able to support ourselves. We try to keep it to around a month maybe 6 weeks. It’s fun going on a tour bus but it’s also a small space. Playing for a month also keeps the music fresh and we don’t want it to get stale or resent it. I am excited to get back on the road and I just love playing for people.
Thanks for letting me interview you today man. I really appreciate it.
Brook- You’re very welcome
Brook Jordan- Skins
Zdenek Gubb- Low End
Ryan Dempsey- Ivories
You can find out more about Twiddle at
and see them on their fall tour
Interview by Derek Jones
Photos by Jay Blakesberg