There is nothing conventional about Portland, Ore.-based folk duo The Shook Twins, be it their personalities or the music they make. They gleefully play by their own set of rules.
“We’re definitely not trying to be too serious or professional,” says real-life identical twin Laurie Shook with a laugh when talking about their live shows. “It’s like a big hangout sesh, with our homies mostly, playing music.”
This laidback, free-wheeling approach to music—in addition to using words like “sesh” and “homies”—is part of what endears the twins to their fans. Their love of experimenting during live performances certainly helps, too.
“We like to invite homies on the trip and have them put their own spin on the music,” Laurie says. “Whatever comes out of them usually goes over very well with whatever comes out of us.”
As fans can attest, The Shook Twins’ most recent recording, EP Window—released in 2011—is as unpredictable as their live shows (Laurie has been known to beatbox, and her sister, Katelyn, sometimes “bocks” like a chicken). A banjo, beats and the twins’ siren-song vocals make “Time to Swim” an engaging experience, and the Americana jam-sounding title track is made more interesting because of the twins’ humorous tale about needing a rowboat to get anywhere because it rains so much. Sure, there are a few love songs here, but they’re a bit atypical. Take “Long Time,” for example.
“That is Katelyn’s song for a robot,” Laurie says. “It was based on a relationship that didn’t go so well and her realizing that the idea of being together with someone forever is a long time! There was talk of forever that obviously was not forever, so she thought about it and came up with the lyrics ‘In the future/ when we have blue light-bulb eyes and computer chips for brains/ would we still love each other the same way we do now?’ So, yeah, robot love.”
The Shook Twins’ love of musical variety and willingness to try new things definitely keeps them from sounding robotic. They fearlessly go for whatever feels good on any given night and leave it at that, no matter what the results sound like.
“We don’t worry too much about what other people think because we mess up all the time,” Laurie says. “That’s how it goes!” But while they don’t take themselves too seriously or hold to any sort of rigid structure with their shows, they are grateful for the support they receive.
“It’s the best job ever,” Laurie says. “We’re so thankful and can’t believe we get to do this and people will come and listen and have fun listening. It’s all very rewarding, and we are just beside ourselves a lot.”
THE SHOOK TWINS
w/Bullets & Belles
The State Room
638 S. State
Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 p.m.