Admiral Twin Takes Left Turns to the ‘Center of the Universe’

Assistant Editor

TULSA TALENT: Mark Carr, John Russell and Jarrod Gollihare make up Admiral Twin. The Tulsa-based band has been together over a decade and released their fourth studio album, “Center of the Universe??? Oct. 16.

Courtesy Jarrod Gollihare

It was late 2000 when my lunch and music buddy Melisenda sat down in the high school cafeteria, slid a CD case across the table to me and said, “Take this home and listen to it.” From the album cover, a statue bust stared hauntingly at me. “Admiral Twin, Mock Heroic” read the neat type in the corner. I looked back at Mel, confused.

“Remember those guys in black suits that opened for Hanson? That’s them.”

Fast forward seven years to Admiral Twin drummer Jarrod Gollihare and myself sitting at Goldies, waiting for the rest of the band, bassist Mark Carr and guitarist John Russell, to show up. I’m explaining to Gollihare how a Houston-transplant fell in love with their music and feel guilty admitting that’s where I first saw them, but he laughs.

“That venue was awful. We made a pact on that tour to not take off our jackets during the set, but it was just too hot.”

Admiral Twin was easy to fall in love with. Every note of their eclectic melodies and vocals was so captivating and unlike anything else I listened to at the time, that it was automatic to hit the ‘repeat’ button once the album ended.

Seven years later, that initial impression still holds true. The band’s newest release “Center of the Universe,” released Oct. 16, doesn’t attempt to stick to any one genre—exactly as it shouldn’t.

“We have this mindset that as long as you have a really good melody, you can pretty much do whatever you want with the song,” Gollihare says. “As long as the basic melody is there, you can take the song in all different kinds of directions.”

A personal favorite from a previous collection of demos proves melody is key. “Renegade Planet,” originally included on “Odds and Ends,” has taken a jump from its sing-along acoustic roots to something more lyrically disjointed, yet musically contiguous. Both versions maintain the melodic structure so a well-versed listener would recognize them as the same song performed two very different ways.

When asked if there’s one song that defines “Center of the Universe,” I get a resounding ‘NO WAY.’ Well, mostly.

“‘Friends in Low Places’ is definitely a song—oh, one of our songs?” Carr laughs.

No departures from the Admiral Twin norm here.

“If we did some Celine Dion type power ballad, that might be a change,” Russell says with a smile. “I can’t think of a way we could really break away. We never said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to graduate to this next level.’ You just take each song and work on a song-by-song basis. In the end you hope that when you shuffle them all together, it’s made some sort of progression.”

“This record is a few notches up in all the categories—the rock songs are a little rockier, the pop songs are a little poppier, and the mood songs are a little weirder,” adds Carr. “If you liked (Creatures of Bread and Wine), hopefully you’ll like this one even more, which is what you’d want from an artist if you like what they do. You’re not going to listen to it and go ‘What the heck are these guys doing?’”

“In My Veins,” currently featured on the band’s MySpace page (, is a perfect example of the rock-gone-rockier sound Carr describes. The guitar and drums drive the song more than any other tune in their catalog. This no-boundaries approach to music only matures with each album, the band agrees.

“Every album is an evolution from the last album,” Carr says. “(Center of the Universe) is a step forward in quality and maturity. I think you can look at our records and backtrack from where we are now to the past record and go, ‘This one’s just a little bit better, a little more focused.’”

So how did this band create such a niche sound for themselves? All three say their influences play a huge role. The Beatles are cited as a main influence by all three. Individually, influences range from growing up with parents singing at church to the likes of Elvis Presley, Black Sabbath and The Clash.

“We’re not all listening to the same artists or same types of music, and I think that has seeped its way into our songs and the way we play,” Russell says. “Hopefully what you do is become influenced in your younger years and as you mature as an artist, draw less from the influence and just let it come naturally.

“Everything you do is an absorption of everything you’ve ever been influenced by. It all rolls together and that’s what seeps out of you. When you’re all together, it’s that process, multiple times.”

“We’re always self-policing ourselves so we don’t sound too much like something else,” Carr says. “If it does come out like that, we try to steer it in a different direction.”

“We purposely take left turns sometimes,” adds Gollihare. “If a song feels like it’s trying to go too far in one direction, we throw a few left turns in there to guide it out to new territory.”

Having three songwriters in the band doesn’t hurt either.

“I think that naturally forces more styles into the mix,” says Gollihare.
“At any given time, you can have one guy who’s in an elated, matrimonial bliss and another guy who’s at the end of his rope,” agrees Russell. “They’re both bringing two completely different states of being into the project.”

Whatever gets them there, one hopes Admiral Twin will continue taking those left turns to guide them to the center of the universe—and anywhere else, for that matter.

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Updated 10-24-2007

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