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Twin Temple have come a long way since introducing “Satanic doo-wop” to the world. Five years after their debut album dropped, Twin Temple have opened for Ghost and Danzig, and just finished their first major headlining tour across the States.

But the up-and-coming act, led by wife-and-husband duo Alexandra and Zachary James, is just one of countless groups facing a post-COVID music industry that’s become increasingly hostile toward the welfare of artists.

Making money as a DIY artist on Spotify has recently become even harder, rising inflation is pricing bands off the road, and venues are taking merch cuts that are bleeding small-to-medium sized artists out of their main source of their income.

“The merch cuts are harsh — sometimes up to 35 percent,” says Twin Temple vocalist Alexandra James. “Credit card fees are five percent, there’s the taxes, cost of goods… Sometimes, at the end of the day, you don’t make any money off merch after the venue’s cut. It sort of makes you wonder, these venues are empty unless the artists are coming.

“We’re bringing all of our fans in here, they’re spending money at the bar and we’re not getting a cut of that. That’s where most venues make all their money, because the mark-up on booze is wild, you make a huge profit. You’re filling their bar with customers buying booze, you’re selling tickets which [the venue] also get, and then they’re trying to get a little from your merch. A lot of record labels don’t even take merch cuts.”

Live Nation launched their On the Road Again program with Willie Nelson in 2023, which gives bands $1,500 extra per show and allows them to keep 100 percent of merch profits. Twin Temple say it’s a big help, though On the Road Again only covered six gigs of their most recent 23-date U.S. tour.

“It makes a huge difference. We live pretty simply because we really love touring,” Alexandria says. “We started touring by ourselves, tour managing ourselves, selling our own merch, driving ourselves and that’s the way we had to do it. Little by little we’ve been able to expand. I’m just grateful that we’ve been able to keep going and keep growing.”

Twin Temple also got crafty to stay afloat during the COVID pandemic. They wrote and recorded their new album God Is Dead in a studio they built in their home, filmed a Satanic puppet show that they edited themselves and sold on VHS, released an intimate live performance on Patreon and even sold bloody Baphomette plushies.

“We got through it by being depraved psychos,” Alexandra laughs. “We just indulged our obsessive rabbit holes. At one point, Zach tracked down the exact sleigh bell that Hal Blaine used on Phil Spector‘s Christmas record, because that’s the amount of obsession that the pandemic gave us. We kind of drove ourselves a little crazy at certain points, but it was a good madness.”

Post-COVID, Twin Temple got to live a dream by touring with Glenn Danzig. Despite how many perceive the legendary Misfits vocalist, Twin Temple report that Glenn couldn’t have been nicer throughout the run of shows.

“A lot of artists you don’t see backstage at all, they’re very reclusive or hidden away. He’d be hanging out in catering just shooting the shit. We got into a gift war with him,” guitarist Zachary recalls.

“This is the type of person Glenn is, he’s incredibly generous,” Alexandra adds. “He’s really into absinthe, so we bought him this bottle of absinthe as a token for the king, you know? A few nights later he gave us all this stuff — cool comic books he made, a creepy haunted baby doll… It was shocking how wonderful of a human he is.”

Twin Temple will be performing throughout Europe this summer. To check out the band’s latest record, God Is Dead, click here.

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