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Barely a year old, the brainchild of Adam Bones and Rikki Styxx, The Two Tens have erupted onto the scene. The chemistry between the two musicians is electric and the music is bitchin. For their newest album, Volume, inspired by ’60s garage, ’70s punk and elements of pop and rock n’ roll, Bones and Styxx have created a simplified (but powerful) sound, filtering the best of the bands who’ve influenced them.
Maintaining positive relationships and having mutual respect with other musicians are two of the things that brought Bones and Styxx together. The third, and seemingly most important element, was the desire to have fun making the music that they wanted to. Styxx was a drummer in Bones’ solo project before he approached her to be in The Two Tens. The duo wanted to harness their energy into creating stripped-down tunes and having fun by being in a band that had a kickass attitude.▼ Article continues below ▼
Bones, guitarist and vocalist, embraces the fact that he is self-taught. Styxx grew up with punk rock and bought a drum set before she even knew how to set one up. She started taking lessons and attended a camp for female drummers where they practiced 10 hours a day, all because she wanted to branch out as a drummer; a good work ethic is the platform for success.
Making a name for yourself doesn’t just deal with name recognition, it relies heavily on style recognition. Styxx says, “We really wanted all of our songs to be a little bit different. We wanted to add rock n’ roll into the recipe and stir it around [along with the punk and garage] because we don’t want to get pigeonholed.” While Styxx notes that each song sounds a little bit different, the stylistic elements that are distinct to The Two Tens stays consistent. Their eclectic sound makes the album unmistakably theirs.
As performers, Styxx and Bones differ in what parts of performing live are their favorite. Styxx loves seeing fans rock out uninhibited, living their lives and loving the music. Their reactions make her want to work harder. For Bones, putting on the show, BEING the show, and having everyone watch and enjoy their playing is his favorite. Simply being on stage and playing the songs with an electric, palpable energy is validation in itself.
The earworms on this album are ridiculous. I catch myself singing all parts of each track when I listen to them. The drum hits, vocals and guitar riffs complement each other well. The vocals, in terms of both lyrics and musicality, are melodious and filled with emotion. It is evident that there are deep-seated personal qualities used to enhance each of the songs. While the lyrics have an obvious punk tone, Bones crafted the record in such a way that it doesn’t sound like it’s coming from a cartoon-like, angsty punk teenager.
The songs are loud, like punk-rock should be, but they aren’t as-in-your face as most stereotypically are. As far as recording was concerned, the drums and rhythm guitar were recorded live and they overdubbed the lead guitar and vocals. Bones and Styxx agreed that their recording process went smoothly and that collaboration in the studio was fun.
Styxx notes: “We bounce ideas off each other because we both have ideas. We have a yin and yang type thing; it’s a good balance.” The balance that they have with each other has crossed over into the musical experience they create for their audience. Their songs are multilayered and have reached an equilibrium by balancing instrumentals, lyrics and portraying personality.
With Volume, Bones took a new approach with writing the lyrics. He drew inspiration from emotional events that greatly impacted his outlook on life. He explains, “I didn’t want to censor myself with certain topics so I thought, now, I’m just gonna sing about how I’m feeling and I’m not gonna gold back.” He continues, “Being honest and real, whether it’s the songwriting itself or the performance or what we are wearing, being authentic to ourselves and our fans … more people relate if we are being real.”
The songwriting process was an organic experience and while the inspiration for the album was deeply personal, the topics he sings about are universally relatable. Styxx notes that not overthinking anything helped with the writing process. She goes on to say “being so close to Adam, knowing his perception of things” makes her appreciate the stories more. In her view, the two major messages of the album are to find yourself and who you are and if you’re lost, go exploring.
While this is inspirational for listeners, the messages Styxx mentions seem to apply to the band itself. Bones explored with not censoring his songs by sticking to certain topics and he used the lyrics to make sense of what was happening in his life. Styxx has branched out as a drummer and is navigating the world of being in a duo. Volume seems to be an album for reflection and growth, and hopefully it is an appetizer of things to come for The Two Tens’ career path.
In addition to releasing Volume, The Two Tens have released a half-dozen music videos [to date] in accompaniment. Their experiences making the videos were just as positive as making the album. For some of the videos, Bones and Styxx came up with a concept and worked with their director to make it all come together. With others, the director came up with an idea and they collaborated on the overall vision. As they gained momentum as a band, making the clips became easier. Styxx says she likes to “make everything fun, so it doesn’t feel like work.” That state of mind clearly is doing wonders for their music.
The Two Tens are already planning more tour dates and are excited about meeting new people and visiting new cities. New tracks are already written and their next album is in the works. While the duo are still making their way, Bones assures us that they “have no plans on slowing down… ever.”
photos by Oly Kaz