Twin Temple

Published on September 25th, 2019

Robert Johnson was so enamored with music he sold his soul to the devil to become the best blues player of all time. And with his guitar prowess and mournful voice as a basis for rock ’n’ roll, the devil’s influence would only spread …

It’s a story that likely sprang from the need to explain the peculiar effects of music and rhythm, because the stuff that makes people dance, sing and lose their minds must surely be a product of something dark.

So while the devil takes the brunt of criticism for everything bad in the world, there’s a slew of artists who feel he’s not getting his due. These artists also believe — much like the legend of Johnson suggests — that good and evil co-exist, one not more or less than the other.

But one side is definitely more fun — which leads us to Twin Temple, King Dude and Amigo The Devil, artists on a quest to bring the scarlet gospels to all.

— Twin Temple, spouses Alexandra and Zachary James, are certified Satanic priests and purveyors of doo-wop music focused on the fallen angel, but it’s more than that: Satanists believe in free will and autonomy; Twin Temple preach feminist ideology, justice and the occult, none of which are mutually exclusive. The L.A. band’s sound is vintage harmonizing suffused with torch and a dash of death rock, all layered with a satanic panache to sweeten the sinfulness.

“We are avid students & practitioners of ceremonial Magick & the Occult, we love classic rock ’n’ roll, theater, visual art, vintage horror …many things inspire us really,” the duo tell PureHoney in a co-signed email. “Many of the magickal traditions we reference have been around for thousands of years, while most of the music we reference is from the 50’s and 60’s. It’s just a summation of everything we’ve always loved, presented in a new way.”

King Dude

— King Dude, or Thomas Jefferson Cowgill, is a man in black with a throaty baritone who croons about the profane and the divine. His brand of devotional rock ’n’ roll is reminiscent of tent revivals in the deep south, all stomping, hollering and speaking in tongues. This brand of experimental folk rock has garnered him a following all over the world. He’s recorded with Chelsea Wolf, Drab Majesty and Julee Cruise and is the prefect accoutrement to each. He describes himself as “a blue-eyed Mephistopheles with an acoustic guitar” who “dresses like Johnny Cash and sings like he cut in line in front of Robert Johnson at the crossroads.”

Amigo The Devil by Justin Pape

Amigo The Devil is a dark bard strumming a banjo with proclamations of love, death and morbid humor. One could make the case that Amigo, born Danny Kiranos, is the reincarnated Pied Piper, singing simple truths and leading folks to their fate. He explains himself in his artist bio this way: “I got tired of seeing people overcomplicate what they feel, or worse, ignore it altogether. Amigo The Devil started as an outlet for brutal honesty that people didn’t feel comfortable discussing. More than create, I listened. At a bar, while eating dinner, at the DMV.”

Most people spend their lives trying to toe the line and be who society wants them to be instead of embracing their own strangeness.

“We still live in a society that is highly intolerant of anyone who is different,” the Jameses of Twin Temple explain in their email. “We have been lambasted on Alex Jones, attacked by Christian hate organizations and threatened by the alt-right. … I would love to see society move towards one that is inclusive and accepting of people from all backgrounds and identities, rather than ‘Othering’ and describing those who are not like you as ‘different.’ ”

The performers on this tour are not appeasers; you’re either on board or you’re in the wrong place. Their kind of thinking seems absent from “proper” society, because the world creates boxes that most people break their backs to fit into, but that’s not conducive to art or a healthy disposition. Leave it to the purveyors of the arcane and morbid to shed light on reality, creativity, love and death. The closer we draw to the crossroads, the harder it is to tell dark from light; perhaps where we are it’s always dusk.

Twin Temple, King Dude and Amigo the Devil perform 8pm October 15 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach. amigothedevil.com, kingdude.bandcamp.com, twintemple.com. ~ Tim Moffatt

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