Before his show at First Avenue tonight, Gimme Noise chatted with George about his last show in Minneapolis, and his thoughts on well-behaved Midwesterners.
Gimme Noise: Your album has been out for a few weeks now. How are you feeling about that?
George Lewis, Jr.: It was a huge relief for me. It's been on the back burner for a long time. The record got pushed back, because we were switching labels. I'm really excited that it's out; it feels great.
How have people been receiving it?
I think it's been mostly positive. I think that a lot of older fans for sure have -- as with all records -- an adjustment period. I think all things are adjusting. In general, the response has been incredible.
The last time you were in Minneapolis, the Lumineers were playing at the Target Center across the street. You made a dig at them, saying, "I could be singing 'I belong to you, you belong to me,' but fuck that." Do you still think that way? What are your thoughts on mainstream music?
There's a reason for it. People listen to that kind of music for a reason, and it's not just because it's constantly being pushed down their throats. There's a reason that so many people gravitate towards that, wherein my audience may be a little different.
My audience wants more out of their music. They want to be challenged. I think there's a smaller amount of people -- especially in American audiences -- that challenge themselves like that.
There's always been things that have fascinated me with music. There's so many reasons why one album can be selling more than another one. It can be political, performance, or the emotions it evokes. There's a reason why "mainstream" music sells. It's because it's good.
Is it ever a concern to you if your music becomes mainstream?
I don't fear it -- not at all. I don't really care what people say. Some people will get behind what I say, some will not. It's important that I have a relationship to the music I put out.
You were quoted as saying you felt your work prior to this new album was too elitist. Why is it important to you to readjust how you view your music?
I criticize my own work, because I can. I'm very proud of what I do, but I also think it's important to check myself and change what's in my control. You always want to challenge yourself. In order to evolve, you have to be able to reassess.
People have told me they enjoy my first album, and my new stuff is too out there. People want to fight change, but you can't.
Are you done with the guitar altogether touring this new album?
I actually am still playing the guitar. I never really gave it up. This record didn't have me reaching for the guitar as much as usual, but I am still using it onstage, although I don't like to hide behind things.
Are you enjoying being on a bigger label for this album? What's the biggest difference for you right now?
I just feel there's more money. Other than that, not much has changed.
One of the biggest fears with being on a larger label is creative compromises. Do you feel you'd be able to speak up if you felt your creative control was being compromised?
Yes. For sure. That is something that I never want to give up with my music.
Do you still believe that Minneapolitans are well-behaved [at shows]?
Did I say that? [laughs]
You mentioned that we were the last time you were here.
I don't remember saying that. We'll try and get people moving when I'm there.
Twin Shadow will perform at First Ave. on Monday, April 13, 2015 with Erik Hassle.
18+, $16 adv, $18 door, 7:30 pm. Purchase tickets here.