TWIN AT­LANTIC

Mate, we knew ya wanted to hear our Green Day CD, but you didn’t have to shave your ears to do it…

Kerrang! (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: JAMES HICKIE PHO­TOS: ANDY FORD

It’s early af­ter­noon on a freez­ing cold Thursday and Twin At­lantic have al­ready trav­elled from GLA to W1A. THE for­mer, as any­one who likes their rock on the slick but raw side knows, is the name of the Glaswe­gian’s fourth al­bum – and, of course, the code for the city’s air­port – where the band has flown in from af­ter a cou­ple of days of post-tour de­com­pres­sion.the lat­ter refers to Maryle­bone, Lon­don – specif­i­cally BBC Broad­cast­ing House – where Sam Mc­trusty has turned up in the none-more-punk get-up of leather jacket, jeans with turn-ups and a pair of Dr. Martens, topped off with a mo­hawk, ready for a day so busy that he has to take a “speed shit” to stay on top of things. It’s a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally straight-talk­ing ad­mis­sion from a man in a band whose at­ti­tude to suc­cess has grown more com­plex in the wake of their big­gest year to date; 12 months in which Twin At­lantic es­tab­lished them­selves as the break­out rock band.

“I’m com­ing to re­alise that I’m putting my­self here out of choice,” he says upon his re­turn from the speedy mis­sion – with ‘here’ re­fer­ring to the cap­i­tal, the recog­nised home of the UK mu­sic in­dus­try. “i’m here to be scru­ti­nised, re­viewed, scored out of five, and have my photo taken. It’s a con­scious de­ci­sion to be judged.”

Now, how­ever, Sam is here to have wa­ter spat at him – and, in turn, to spit it at some­one else – as he’s par­tic­i­pat­ing in Ra­dio 1’s ‘In­nu­endo Bingo’. For the unini­ti­ated, it in­volves a star guest sit­ting op­po­site the show’s co-host – both with mouth­fuls of wa­ter – and be­ing sub­jected to clips of in­creas­ingly edgy ac­ci­den­tal dou­ble en­ten­dres with the re­sul­tant laugh­ter soak­ing both par­ties.and while Sam in­sists min­utes be­fore play­ing that, “twin At­lantic don’t op­er­ate un­der any­one’s rules apart from our own,” he’s quick to ac­knowl­edge the di­chotomy of his band do­ing their own thing, only to end up in the mid­dle of the spot­light.

“Which is what I’ve al­ways wanted,” he ad­mits, smil­ing broadly as he pulls at his wet clothes. “we don’t

nec­es­sar­ily put our­selves un­der the UK rock um­brella. It could just be ar­ro­gance or delu­sion, but we feel like we’re fuck­ing build­ing our own um­brella, and when we fin­ish it, you’re go­ing to want to fuck­ing trade and come un­der ours, as it’ll of­fer some­thing of sub­stance and im­por­tance.the whole of the fuck­ing [rock] com­mu­nity have been look­ing at the pos­si­bil­i­ties with fuck­ing one eye fuck­ing half-closed, obey­ing the rules and be­ing too re­spect­ful of it, when ev­ery other band that has ever done any­thing im­por­tant has fuck­ing smashed that idea, be­cause it doesn’t mean any­thing to them.”

Out­side, clothes dried and opin­ions aired, Sam con­venes with his band­mates – guitarist Barry Mckenna, bassist Ross Mc­nae and drum­mer Craig Kneale – as we head to a pho­to­shoot with CALM (Cam­paign Against Liv­ing Mis­er­ably), a char­ity work­ing to pre­vent male sui­cide in the UK (see p10 for an in­ter­view with Sam and Frank Turner about the cause), for which the band has con­trib­uted a stir­ring ver­sion of Bruce Spring­steen’s The Ris­ing.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, given that they’ll cel­e­brate 10 years to­gether as a band in March, theirs is a warm and closeknit union, though one that ex­pe­ri­enced “tur­bu­lence” in the build-up to work­ing on GLA with pro­ducer Jack­nife Lee, who the band pre­vi­ously col­lab­o­rated with on pre­vi­ous al­bum, 2014’s Great Di­vide.

“He wanted me to go into the stu­dio by my­self, to iso­late the main song­writ­ing part in the band,” ex­plains Sam, his voice muf­fled by the scarf wrapped around his head in the brac­ing con­di­tions. “it was a huge con­ver­sa­tion and a bit of a rocky road for us all, be­cause it re­de­fined our roles in the band, and ce­mented the idea that, ‘this is what you do, and this is what you do.’ It was pretty hard go­ing through that whole process of, ‘Why the fuck are you go­ing?’ but that was the mo­ment that we pressed ‘Es­cape’ and re-launched the browser.”

“It was a shit­storm, but once we got on the other side of it, we had bet­ter mu­sic, bet­ter un­der­stand­ing as mu­si­cians, and bet­ter knowl­edge of what we could achieve in the stu­dio,” adds Sam.

His band­mates agree this process of re-align­ment paid div­i­dends.

“We spent two weeks set­ting up the drums on pre­vi­ous records,” re­veals the soft-spo­ken Ross, whose year also her­alded the ar­rival of his daugh­ter, Romy. “When we changed for­mat, the drums sud­denly took us 15 min­utes. It in­spired the way the songs were writ­ten, as Sam and I started mak­ing lit­tle home stu­dios, aban­don­ing gui­tars and em­brac­ing com­put­ers, and work­ing com­pletely dif­fer­ently. that’s what reawak­ened our creative mojo, and led us back to the ori­gins of why we wanted to make mu­sic,” he adds as the four in­stinc­tively fall into photo pose for­ma­tion.

“It’s the first time since we first started that there weren’t any pre­req­ui­site thoughts,” says hand­some, Keith Buck­ley-alike guitarist Barry at their next pho­to­shoot, with this very magazine.

“On Great Di­vide, we were con­sciously writ­ing while think­ing about the suc­cess of [break­through sec­ond al­bum] Free, which was a re­ally bad move,” adds drum­mer Craig from be­neath an im­pres­sive mous­tache.

“The mo­ment we started lis­ten­ing back to GLA through the stu­dio speak­ers, we knew that they had an en­ergy and a raw­ness that we wanted,” con­tin­ues Barry. “When we recorded parts, we went with the ones that felt bet­ter over those that were played bet­ter.”

The band squeezes to­gether to get within the span of the Scottish flag they’re pos­ing with. It was sup­posed to be big­ger.

“Sorry,” says K! pho­tog­ra­pher Andy. “i tried to bring my eight-footer with me.”

“WAAAAAAAHEY!” the band yell in uni­son at this un­of­fi­cial ad­di­tion to the day’s In­nu­endo Bingo.

By din­ner, it’s safe to say that Sam is on one – no doubt gal­vanised by the fun but force­ful de­bate on the fu­ture of the mu­sic in­dus­try he en­joyed with Ross in the car here.

“The year we formed, 2007, has been ear­marked as the year that the mu­sic in­dus­try ‘crashed’; and the year that the first mod­ern piece of jour­nal­ism to sug­gest that rock mu­sic is dead, 2010, was when we were right in the mid­dle of record­ing 2011’s Free,” laughs Sam at

ROCK MU­SIC AL­WAYS IS, AND AL­WAYS WILL BE, THE VOICE OF THE PEO­PLE” SAM MC­TRUSTY

the tim­ing of his band’s ca­reer. By the time we de­scend on the restau­rant of Lon­don’s Soho Sanc­tum Ho­tel, then, he, like the beers, is in full flow. wit­ness­ing the pre­ten­tion-averse Glaswe­gians re­view­ing a menu of­fer­ing such fare as a ‘Mango En­cap­su­la­tion’ is en­ter­tain­ing, but trumped by the spec­ta­cle of their singer un­leash­ing his thoughts on the state of rock – with spe­cific ref­er­ence to Flea’s no­to­ri­ous quote ear­lier this year, in which the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers bassist as­serted it was dead. while Sam claims not to have lis­tened to the genre him­self in 2016, he’s dealt with his fair share of what he calls “wealthy near-pen­sion­ers”, hav­ing pre­vi­ously toured with “ego­tis­ti­cal ma­niac” Billy Cor­gan and Smash­ing Pump­kins, so isn’t shy of a re­but­tal.

“I’m try­ing to re­move ego from it en­tirely,” he says with steel in his voice as he lays his drink (and cards) on the ta­ble. “no-one writes a rock song for Flea; who sits down and pens a rock song with a 54-year-old mul­ti­mil­lion­aire in mind? Rock mu­sic is, and al­ways will be, the voice of the peo­ple.” The 29-year-old isn’t done yet, though. “It’s not that rock is a dy­ing art form, it’s that those peo­ple are closer to death, so it’s not rel­e­vant to them. It’s about lust for life,” he adds for good mea­sure.

Twin At­lantic’s own joie de vivre hasn’t only been re­ju­ve­nated by stum­bling upon the other worlds of mu­si­cal pos­si­bil­ity (“It’s like the first time you take LSD,” re­caps the man who sings ‘I take pills and I drink

al­co­hol’ on GLA’S No Sleep), but in do­ing the things they never thought pos­si­ble, like play­ing Later… With Jools Hol­land. that’s a feat that even the out­spo­ken Sam “strug­gles to process”, but one Barry sug­gests was “a huge and ex­cit­ing hon­our, es­pe­cially when you think about some of the his­toric per­for­mances that have come be­fore, like At The Drive-in.”

Then, of course, there’s what’s com­ing next: the cherry on the top of Twin At­lantic’s year in the form of three home­town shows at the Glas­gow Barrowlands be­fore Christ­mas.

“They’re at that time of year when every­one is com­ing home,” beams Sam, with the ex­cite­ment of a child reel­ing off his list to Santa. “plus, it’s the place that’s given us the most sup­port and we’ve done our big­gest shows, so it’s go­ing to be some next-level shit.”

As dessert menus are handed out – but for­gone in favour of more beers – the ques­tion of Twin At­lantic’s next mu­si­cal course arises: a task Sam be­lieves will be en­riched by his ven­tures out­side of the band.

“I’m start­ing to scratch the sur­face of pro­duc­ing other peo­ple’s mu­sic, and the con­cept of mak­ing mu­sic for sound­tracks. that could just be me fid­dling around in other ar­eas, so I can chan­nel that into the next one.”

Given the creative “un­shack­ling” the four fre­quently re­fer to, what do we think al­bum num­ber five might sound like?

“I think it’s go­ing to be wildly un­hinged,” spec­u­lates SAM. “GLA was us open­ing up all of the doors, and now it’s up to us to choose which door we want to go through next. I think now we re­alise that ev­ery op­tion is pos­si­ble, so it could be fuck­ing chaotic – in a good way.

“The best thing I could do for some­one who en­joyed this record,” he con­tin­ues, his mind over­flow­ing with ideas, “rather than us ex­plain­ing how we did it and ru­in­ing it by peel­ing the lay­ers away and ex­plain­ing the magic trick – we should just do an­other magic trick.”

So there’s no temp­ta­tion to re­peat a for­mula you now know to be suc­cess­ful?

“Our in­ten­tion is to be re­ally fuck­ing dis­re­gard­ing of what’s ex­pected or what con­sti­tutes a rock record,” he says, as we set­tle up and taxis are booked. “oh, and one more thing,” Sam shouts min­utes later as his head is pro­trud­ing from a car win­dow, clearly still ru­mi­nat­ing on the state of rock (and the world in gen­eral).“the next record is go­ing to be called Ev­ery­thing Is Fucked… you got that?”

Mes­sage re­ceived, loud and clear.

You have to hand it to Twin At­lantic for dar­ing to not re­peat them­selves, and to go places that of­ten make you go, ‘...the fuck?’. Like nam­ing a recordafter their home-city’s air­port. Or ditch­ing the high-fly­ing, arena-court­ing sound they’d un­leashed on 2014’s shiny Great Di­vide in favour of some­thing a bit dirt­ier, just when it looked like more of the same would have been an open goal. But that’s just what Sam Mc­trusty and the lads did, and then laughed all the way to the charts when it landed in the Top 10 and saw them ap­pear­ing on Later… With Jools Hol­land. But if GLA proved any­thing, it’s that it’s Twin’s per­son­al­ity that peo­ple re­ally like about them. And GLA, though a side­step, still pulsed with their inim­itable Scottish charisma. (NR)

E

Hey, when you score a Top 10 al­bum, you’ll be able to af­ford gold mi­cro­phones, too

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