alternative band

Twilight Talks with Steve McKellar of Civil Twilight

Monday, July 11, 2016 Pearl

Civil Twilight is a band that has been together since "back in the day" according to lead singer Steven "Steve" McKellar (the guys formed the band when they were in their young teens before they even knew what a gig was). The group, which consists of brothers Steven and Andrew McKellar and their friends Richard Wouters and Kevin Dailey, has come a long way since then.

The other day, I was able to speak with the frontman of Civil Twilight (and one of my favorite artists) Steve McKellar and wow. Steve is an incredibly down-to-earth and insightful person. During our conversation, I was able to learn more about the origins about the band, some of their inspiration for their latest album "A Story of an Immigrant", and their love for each other.

Pearl: So where did the name Civil Twilight come from?

Steve: We've been through a bunch of names before - some of them really good, some of them really bad. I don't really know how we got ourselves into this predicament, but we needed a name. The name we had [then] wasn't working. We really liked aviation terms. We come from a long line of pilots so we thought ‘why not’? When we searched aviation terms and that was the first one to come up. We thought 'that’ll do'! So we just picked it and ran with it.

P: How has your music evolved throughout the years?

S: It’s interesting because right now, we’re back to being a three-piece for the time being. It’s interesting because if you’re around long enough, you can’t escape the things that turns you on in the first place. There’s so much that we’ve been through and explored and experimented with, but we always go back to the things that turned us on in the first place – it’s a weird thing. That’s what we’re discovering now. But you know, the older you get, the less you have to prove. Our music [over the years] has become a little bit more self-aware, a little more sensitive, and a little less insecure.

P: How do you think the band dynamic changed over time?

S: Fortunately, we’ve grown to love each other more and be better friends. I think a lot of bands go the opposite way. For us, sticking through the tough times, being willing to communicate, and being very honest has helped us maintain our relationship. That’s made all the difference – or else we wouldn’t be a band anymore. The hardest part of being in a band is being with the people in the band. It’s not the music or anything else. So we’ve been really fortunate.

P: You guys released your third album last year! Where did you draw inspiration from for “Story of an Immigrant”?

S: We had a long time to write this last record. We spent a year writing – which is an absolutely ridiculous thing in my mind! But we had that time so we wrote a sh*t load of songs. And for some reason, there was a theme coming through in a few of those songs that resonated with us. It was tones and ideas that related to [things that] we grew up listening to. [Our songs also] naturally tied into the theme of a story of an immigrant. The idea of us physically being immigrants is one aspect and the other aspect is this idea of everyone being a spiritual immigrant in a physical world. So we started running with that idea and then all of these different songs sort of came from it.

Civil Twilight at Lincoln Hall last year

P: Kind of going off of that, you spend a lot of time writing your songs, but you also spend a lot of time performing them as well. Do you ever get tired of playing your songs over and over again?

S: No, and that’s kind of a mystery to a lot of people. We’ve been playing our first record for about eight years now? We’ve played those songs every night for years and years, and no, we never get sick of it! I don’t know what it is. The songs that are real, that you resonate with, those are the ones that you keep going back to. The songs that people enjoy [at shows], we enjoy. Maybe we’re just a bunch of idiots, I don’t know haha!

P: Your band has been performing at a lot of festivals and individual tours! What’s the experience like for you and which do you prefer?

S: Good question! Festivals are a time where people can spend like three to four days breaking loose so your audience is [already] at a different level. Your audience is more excited at festivals just by being there and as a band, you latch onto that excitement. Festivals are a little more bombastic and spontaneous [too]. A naked guy can run onto stage and tackle you! That’s not gonna happen at one of our concerts. Our fans are usually very respectful. We usually have more control over the environment at our concerts. So both of them are exciting and scary, but I like them equally.

P: You’re going to be back in Chicago next week for a show. Is there anything you’re looking forward to doing while you’re here?

S: Chicago’s always been good to us. People tend to get what we do over there and it’s really cool. I look forward to playing to a good crowd and a good venue [at Schubas] in good weather. It’s gonna be a good time! Chicago in the summer is beautiful and I love being there. So I just look forward to running the city for a little bit and seeing you guys come out to the show.

A picture of Steve that I took when I first saw them at Lincoln Hall last year

If you're a fan of the band, you're in luck. Civil Twilight will be playing at Schubas Tavern on Wednesday, July 20. Be sure to see them play live when they drop by Chicago!

Check out their song "Letters from the Sky" in the video below! It's one of my favorite songs by the band and it was also featured in the film I Am Number Four.

If you want to stay connected with the band, you can keep up with them through their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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