Twiddle Talks Red Rocks, Spirit Animals, and the Power of Positivity

Over Memorial Day Weekend, Bass Feeds the Soul was able to sit down with bluegrass aficionados Twiddle between their sets at Summer Camp Music Festival. With the sun beating down and the Steve Miller Band running the Moonshine stage, Twiddle members Mihali Savoulidis (vocals, lead guitar), Ryan Dempsey (vocals, keyboard), Brook Jordan (vocals, drums), Zdenek Gubb (vocals, bass) graciously took the time to speak with us about their upcoming debut at Red Rocks, spirit animals, and what they’re all about.


Mihali Savoulidis with Jaden Carlson onstage at the Ogden Theatre back in March. Photo by Benna Coben

Mihali Savoulidis with Jaden Carlson onstage at the Ogden Theatre back in March. Photo by Benna Coben

BFS: So I was able to have press to your show at the Ogden Theatre in Denver back in March, and I wanted to ask you about the Jaden Carlson Band - she rocked my world!

Mihali: That was a really fun show! We’ve been friends with her for a while. She actually came out to Vermont and did a couple shows with me, and yeah her talent is crazy. I mean we’ve been friends with her for a while now and we’re always trying to get her some exposure – not that she needs it I mean she plays all over with everybody, but we have a really good time jamming with her and her friends. She’s like a little sister for us. We originally met her at Arise Festival, she sat in with us. She was there with Peter Frampton and she came running out. So yeah, I’m a guitar player and she’s a guitar player obviously. She’s a true talent.

Brook: Yeah she’s very mature beyond her years as well. Not only somewhat as a person but way beyond with her guitar playing…with her phrasing and her sensibility of getting around the guitar, we saw the talent immediately. And not only again is she amazing but she’s a pretty cool younger person.

Mihali: And her band is a bunch of badasses. They’re f***in’ awesome.

Brook: We like her whole crew.

BFS: Yeah I walked in and I couldn’t tell her age at all; it took me a while to figure it out.

Ryan: *laughs* Ha she’s young man she’s incredible.

Brook: And she’s got her own style, from her clothes to her playing for sure.

Ryan: She’s a hybrid; she was genetically altered.

BFS: Back to Colorado because that’s my home-state, how are you guys gearing up to play Red Rocks?

Mihali: *laughs* Nerves.

Brook: Making sure our families can get out there for the show.

Ryan: We’re just trying to, for our one hour set, we’re just trying to play our best tunes for that one hour window. Our music has a lot of different influences and there’s a lot of different styles we like to play too in each song so we’re trying …. It’s mostly just trying to play real good.

Zdenek: And in the back of our minds we’re trying not to get too worked up about it. If you think about it too much you’ll get inside your own head at a show and that’s terrible.

Brook: Yeah it’s a huge show for us but even bigger is the Jam Cruise announcement. I mean for me. You know, the hour is set and I’m not sure what we have at Jam Cruise at all, but with the Red Rocks thing it’s difficult for us with an hour set to really figure out what we’re actually going to play and present to the people in just an hour.

Ryan: Personally I’d rather play Red Rocks any day. Jam Cruise is great and we’re really excited to be on it but for the most part I think Red Rocks is the biggest look we’ve gotten as a band. It’s important for us to showcase our talent there and to try and play well enough so that they want us back again.

Brook: We’ve been listening to String Cheese since, you know…actually Mikki (Mihali) turned me onto more String Cheese than I really had ever known. That is the biggest deal for us is that we’re starting to play with these people that we’ve looked up to and have been our idols since we started. It’s such a big deal for us. It’s amazing.

Mihali: I can’t wait to check it off my bucket list. Once I check that one off I’ll be good. Now I just have to set another goal.

BFS: What’s bigger for you guys than Red Rocks though?

Zdenek: MSG I think.

Mihali: Madison Square Garden yeah.

Brook: I said Jam Cruise ‘cause like I mean not only it’s the fact of getting on the boat with all these musicians and then, from I’ve heard at least, the vibe is great – everyone sits in with everybody, it’s super fan and artist-oriented, where bands even put on game shows and play Machi and sh*t with the fans. So for me that’s going to be cool to not only hang out with a bunch of amazing musicians but get to hang out with the fans as well and just mingle and have a great time.

BFS: Well a silly question I was curious about is, what would you all say is your spirit animal?

Mihali: I’d say I’m a lion.

Zdenek: Wolf.

Brook: Yeah I’d say I’m some sort of hybrid of a hog type, uh *laughs* dragonish type thing. We have some new artwork coming out soon that will encase what our spirit animals actually are, now that you mention it.

Ryan: I’m some type of bird, either a penguin or a cockatoo or a loon.

Brook: You’re a duck! A mallard.

Ryan: Yeah usually a duck. But, uh yeah let’s say a duck.

BFS: Who are you guys wanting to see at this festival, if you can take the time to go see a set who would it be?

Zdenek: I got to see Victor Wooten, that was really cool.

Brook: Yeah and it’s always nice to see Umphrey’s and moe. and stuff, I know it’s their festival. I actually came out for two years after I graduated high school. I came out here from Vermont to just come to the festival because you know the music is so great. And back then it was like ‘06/’07 or something and there weren’t as many festivals. This festival has always been a staple. Seeing Umphrey’s for five sets during the weekend is sweet, that’s the kind of stuff we like to do. We have a festival in Vermont that we like to just play all weekend too.

Zdenek: I really wanted to see The Nth Power. I missed them but I looove The Nth Power.

Mihali: All our peers, it’s nice to catch their sets.

Brook: Yeah unfortunately we missed Dopapod and we saw part of Papadosio but they had to leave immediately – we’re friends with all those bands and it’s always nice to be in the same place together at least for a day or something.

BFS: Who in the world is Hattibagen McRat?

Mihali: He was my best friend growing up through high school. I wrote the song…he loved bluegrass and he went to the University of Colorado Boulder, so he lived in Colorado and he pretty much spent all his time listening to bluegrass music and all that. Sadly he passed away in Thailand while teaching English. But I wrote the song about him (Hattibagen McRat) before he passed away so he did get to hear it. When I wrote this song I was trying to create a character that I thought he would think would be awesome. I tried to write about him as he would like to be thought of. So he got to hear it and he loved it and yeah he’s become a nice iconic character for our band and his spirit lives on through our music.

Brook: Yeah he was a super fan of bluegrass.

Mihali: Yeah the guys all met him, he used to come to our shows all the time.

BFS: I think that’s the best way to memorialize someone. A song will never die.

Ryan: Shakespeare said it greatly, he once wrote a poem about a girl and he said ‘I’m gonna make you live forever in this poem’. And he did. This song uses the same kind of idea, so Hattie would live on through the song in his beautiful essence of his spirit.

BFS: He sounds like someone I would have loved to have met. So, I kinda wanted to ask you guys, who’s inspiring you in the world right now? It doesn’t have to just be musicians, but just like what movement are you guys rooting for, what’s important to you?

Zdenek: Tough question.

Brook: Yeah that is a hard one. I mean as far as music uh, I’m definitely just always searching for new music. A lot of times the people that play drums will sit there and ask me specifically drum type stuff but I don’t just listen to drummers. Music in general shapes, even others shape what I do on drums and stuff. And as far as like movements and stuff, we just wanna convey everybody getting along! There’s too much, sadly enough, even in our scene there’s a lot of people arguing about silly things like who likes a band better than another band or something. And to us it’s just, it’s like a person you meet. You don’t walk up to somebody if you don’t like the way they look and say ‘I don’t like you’ or something. It’s like, let people do their thing, play music, and thankfully in our community it’s peace and love but I would love if people just let people listen to their music and give them their space.

Mihali: And with that idea, I think the Frends are a big inspiration. Because that’s the idea of a ‘friendly’ crew, a ‘friendly’ gathering, a group of friendly people. Some background on that, the Frends Crew was a group of snowboarders that got together to create a group in snowboarding. (Snowboarding) is very competitive, and they’re all friends but they’re all competing against one another in various tournaments and competitions and what not. So they decided that going against each other, they would form a crew of some of the top snowboarders in the world who got together and just started the Frends Crew, and it was more of ‘I support this guy, I support this guy, and it doesn’t matter who comes in first or last, we’re all in this together.’

Brook: It’s about pushing each other. We talk about that even with our friends from bands like The Werks and Kung Fu. I mean we don’t strive to be better, we just push ourselves to be the best we can. You know, like people come out and pay a bunch of money to see what we do. Just pushing each other to be better and to have a great time.

Ryan: It all carries over.

Brook: The negativity is foolish, it doesn’t make sense.

Ryan: We’re on the positive side of life.

BFS: Yeah that was something I’ve always noticed, especially “When It Rains it Poors”, I was wondering if that song lead you through a tough time when you wrote it or if it was just a message or all the above?

Mihali: I wrote that when my girlfriend at the time, her father…well I had been dating her for like six or seven years, and her dad got lymphoma and it was a fairly quick…uh he got pretty sick pretty fast. I’ve had a lot of death in my life and various things. She was in the corner of her room crying and I was sitting on the edge of her bed, trying to come up with something to say that would help make her feel better, but I was having a really hard time and so I wrote that song trying to tell her that you know, my dad died when I was young and it will get better. Everything gets better with time. “Smile as you walk by” so to say. And eventually I’ll see you again and you’ll be happier, I promise. And the verses kind of happened over a period of time, the first two sort of were really on the negative side – just a lot of things were going wrong and then the chorus comes in saying it will be better. I actually wrote the third verse maybe a year later, and I wasn’t actually still with her, I was with my wife – er, my girlfriend at the time who’s now my wife, who I kind of related to my life, like ‘Now I feel that things are better in my life’ and the song kind of came together that way which was that bad things happen to everybody. And with some time and a little bit of positivity things can always turn around in the long run.

Brook: It’s a message of hope for sure and that’s like with anybody, you know, like hard times happen and you make a change for the people around you and things turn out positive and you try to make a difference.

Ryan: I think it’s a generational thing. The generation we’re in right now accepts that song. It’s something about our group of people and this generation and it’s just very…people connect to it. And I’ve heard tons of people just come up and be like, ‘That song changed my life, I was going to kill myself.’

BFS: Wow that’s pretty heavy.

Ryan: For sure, I’ve heard some stories like that. That song is a very impacting song and it helps lift people up out of a slump -which we’ve all been there.

BFS: Definitely, it’s the type of song that like you’re really grateful when it comes on shuffle when you’re having a bad day. Like ‘Woah! The message! It’s for me!’

Brook: Well we don’t know that but we love playing it for sure.

Zdenek: And to see people out there smiling during that song is something that…I’ve teared up a little bit on stage a number of times actually. Thank God I’m not singing.

Mihali: We all get depressed, that song is meant to make you smile.

Ryan: People connect to that.

BFS: What’s your favorite place to wander off to and what do you bring? Like if you just need to be alone, where do you find yourself?

Mihali: My couch.

Brook: Yeah my room.

Mihali: I have a lake in my backyard that’s always nice to sit at.

Zdenek: Yeah there’s this place called Glenn Lake that there’s usually nobody there and it’s just beautiful.

BFS: In Vermont?

Zdenek: Yeah in Vermont. You can go to this part of it where the sun always sets like right there.

Mihali: Yeah for us since we’re always kind of around people, we’re always together and we’re always kind of in situations like this, any place you can go that gives you a little bit of time to yourself works for all of us.

Brook: Ryan likes the bathtub!

Mihali: That’s his place of solace. As soon as we check into a hotel that’s where he goes first.

Brook: I mean nature for all of us is definitely a thing for sure. Yeah couldn’t speak for all of us but yeah we’re around people all the time, 24/7 so for us just being by ourselves to collect our thoughts. Just to sit at home and relax for a minute.

Mihali: I like being with my dogs and my wife, not pay attention to everything else that’s in my life and it’s just quiet for me and it’s like a recharge.

Zdenek: I live in a log cabin on the lake so that’s for me.

Ryan: I feel like we all tend to go towards the water, we all live on lakes.

BFS: I’ve never been to Vermont but I hear it’s very beautiful.

Ryan: It’s gawgeous.

Brook: Yeah it’s really beautiful in the summer!

Ryan: Like I’ve always said, Colorado is Vermont on steroids. A lot more dry and a little less green.

Brook: So dry. Ugh. But I can always tell when we’re getting close to Colorado because my lips just start splitting, literally.

BFS: I love it.

*Simultaneous ‘I love it too’*

Mihali: It’s definitely a shock just getting there.

Walking away from the designated media spot, I left the interview with a huge smile on my face. These guys are class-acts, and positivity oozes out of each one of them. From their soulful jams, to their lifestyles and everything encompassed in each, Twiddle earns a spot as a favorite of mine. For those with plans for String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks this summer (July 24-26), make sure you get there early on Thursday to let Twiddle showcase their true talents at the greatest venue in the world.

Pictured from left to right: Ryan Dempsey, Zdenek Gubbs, Mihali Savoulidis, myself, and Brook Jordan of Twiddle

Pictured from left to right: Ryan Dempsey, Zdenek Gubbs, Mihali Savoulidis, myself, and Brook Jordan of Twiddle

Written by: Jaelyn Kohl