Twin Within and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

Hamilton native, family man, mortgage broker and founder of Twin Within, Steve McKay is always an interesting interview.

Hamilton native, family man, mortgage broker and founder of Twin Within, Steve McKay is always an interesting interview. After a decade or two slugging it out in the harder rock underground, some five years ago, McKay originally envisioned Twin Within as a duo featuring the blended unison singing of himself and Alex Samaras but with two albums released, the group has since evolved into a very different beast yet retaining its classical, baroque, pop and rock vision.

“Alex has so many musical projects on the go and was becoming frustrated with all of the demands on him so I asked him if he wanted me to fire him,” says McKay. “He said, ‘yes, please’ and that was that. He’s got an amazing skill set and it’d be like trying to replace someone like Freddy Mercury. Queen tried and failed miserably so I couldn’t fathom replacing him but I had Hamilton singer/songwriter Kori Pop on omnichord and keys and more recent Hamilton transplant singer and songwriter Lisa Savard–Quong on bass that I tried playing with and they were able to cover the whole range of what Alex did between the two of them.

“Benjamin Schillaci played with Twin Within for all of our live shows for a long time and I was hoping he would step in and play guitar for us but wasn’t able,” adds McKay. “I was playing the drums for a while but it’s hard to lead the band behind the drum kit so we got {ex–Huron, ex–A Northern Chorus] Pete Hall to play the drums but he ended up moving to Banff. I thought we had to really tie this down and I was hoping Jackson Hudecki would be able to take this on. He’s a heavy rock and roll drummer for bands like Cowlick but I was a heavy drummer in Bruce Peninsula and the Deviants, too and for this you have to have more of a light fluffy, cloud in mind for this music. Eventually, he said yes and this foursome has just been great. It’s been a really complicated year or so for sure.”

So long time fans of Twin Within can expect a very out of the ordinary show at Supercrawl and one that revisits their second album recorded with the HPO but one that also indicates the future for the band.

“We were going for a Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin thing, or a Righteous Brothers thing — two guys with microphones, just crooning,” says McKay on his original vision. “But given the situation, I didn’t want to do it almost like we did, so we decided on a sharp left turn and the new vision is kind of like a Pink Floyd vibe for the new Twin Within. You get three people singing up front and each person has their very distinctive flavour and a good drummer in the background. Each singer does things all the time and engages the audiences like Fleetwood Mac. The songs blend together but there is variety and harmony and it’s just so special and that’s what we’re aspiring to — to sound as big as Pink Floyd.

“We’ll be performing the same record that we originally did with the HPO but it’ll definitely have a different flavour with the vocals,” adds McKay. “I won’t be playing the guitar and we’ll be having a nine piece orchestra with us. Our first time doing this a year ago was such a great night. We have the same arrangements from the album we released “Live Off the Floor at Hamilton Place with the HPO” but with Kori and Lisa singing there will be more harmonies and we’re going to pass the songs around. Jackson will add percussion on top of the other two percussionists. So three people singing and maybe a drummer pounding a little harder to keep that cloud of music grounded. And with Supercrawl, there are a lot of exterior sounds happening that are the antithesis of the classical stage in a theatre. This is not a silent concert hall and we’re on stage in a parking lot with the din of people chatting. These are really sensitive arrangements but we’ve told Jackson to take those sensitive parts out and hopefully people will check us out. I love Supercrawl and proud to be a part of this. I love this being an outdoor daytime showcase. I’m bringing out our latest baby Flora for her first concert with our other two kids. It’s the perfect time for all of my friends and their kids to come and plop themselves down in front of the stage with some fries and a pop and then going home to bed. I’m looking forward to playing for people mostly under the age of ten. Think of the future of classical music? It’s like Peter and the Wolf all over again.”

Twin Within plays the Fireball/Exclaim! Stage at Supercrawl on Sunday September 15 at 5:30pm followed by Steve Strongman and the Hamilton Blues All-Stars at 7:15pm.  

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