REBEL Met With The Band In Manchester's Arndale Centre
Leah Hamer || September 21st
‘Performing in a CD shop is a fairly bizarre experience.’ Lead guitarist Barry McKenna laughs, sitting on a bar stool in the staff kitchen of the HMV in the Arndale Centre. Along with bassist, Ross McNae, we are sardined together, examining the employee photographs donning the walls, and moving our knees for the workers in their flashy pink t-shirts, squeezing past us to fetch their butties and smoothies from the fridge in between our interview.
Our environment is an unusual one, it differs from the dingy dressing rooms and sticky floors of clubs and offers artificial illumination and rows of album cases- with one slight alteration in the form of a temporary black, wooden stage. Although they don’t plan to make a habit of this, Twin Atlantic, are opening themselves to this intimate performance in order to connect and thank their loyal fans, all of which are here with a copy of their new album, GLA, waiting to be signed.
GLA is a vast step away from their previous studio work, Great Divide (2014), ‘The album has been a completely different process.’ Ross explains, ‘With the last one, we turned acoustic songs into these big band numbers and tried so hard to get the perfect take. With this, we’d start one morning with nothing, and have a song done by the end of the day. So it’s different, not necessarily better or worse, at the moment we like this more because it’s fresh and exciting.’
Despite a change in direction, the reaction has been just as phenomenal, ‘Most people seem to be really liking it but we made the album to satisfy ourselves…but that’s just one part of the puzzle- getting people to like what you do is kind of important.’ Ross laughs.
In the two years since Great Divide, the foursome were, in theory, supposed to be recuperating during a formal break. However, the writing never stopped, ‘And here we are…’ Barry sighs, ‘Everyone needs time to recharge their batteries, but we are very fortunate that we love what we do. We love playing music, as much as we’re busy, we’re busy doing something that we’re fully committed to and passionate about. It never feels like we’ve got to go back to work.’
The inspiration behind GLA is pretty simple, and those that know the Scottish origins of the band will find it easy to figure out. It was named after the place in which it was written and their hometown, ‘It’s nothing too fancy, it just seemed obvious.’ The Glasgow music scene is the sole reason that Twin Atlantic are in existence. ‘It’s how we all met because we were all in different bands and they brought us together.’ Barry tells me. ‘It’s a great community, everyone supports each other regardless of genre. I think music was a form of escapism because Glasgow is so grey and dark, it’s a good way to release pent up frustration. Don’t get me wrong, Glasgow is an amazing place but when you’re young you can feel a little bit trapped. It’s only in the hindsight of travelling all around the world that you realise how lucky we have it.’
The success rate of Glaswegian bands is extraordinary with bands like Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand leading the pathways. ‘We weren’t in the same circles as those bands but you kind of know someone that knows them. You’re only one step away from someone else that’s made it, so you think why not us?’
Mogwai in particular have had an influence on Twin Atlantic, ‘The tones of their instruments and their attention to detail…We’ve taken so much from them even though we sound completely different.’ Over the ten years that Barry, Ross, singer Sam McTrusty and drummer Craig Kneale have been together they have allowed their sound and style to progress with the times and flow of other artists. ‘I think literally every single act out there has evolved off of the back of other artists, whether is intentional or if you’re subconsciously picking up on it. It’s impossible to create something completely new.’
With the release of a new album, of course, comes a tour, which begins for Twin Atlantic after the CD signings in October. After the success of the last tour, the boys are travelling to some curveball cities in Spain and South Africa and tell me what they are expecting on the return to all of their international fan bases across the globe. ‘South Africa and Spain were incredible, especially as we didn’t have any expectations so we’re looking forward to going back… Then in America everyone talks to you about their Scottish relatives and shout Freedom at you…Around Europe, we’ve got a strange thing at the moment where people want to talk about independence and Brexit, as they know that the Scottish were predominantly voting to stay in Europe. As we’re musicians people keep asking us about our opinions, it’s quite an interesting time to be touring about.’
As the band travel from country to country, so do their fans. ‘At a gig in Manchester there were people flying Finish flags and there are people from all over Europe that have become friends and travel around together, bringing their flags.’ In order to honour this following, we have dubbed them as ‘The Twinnies’.
As I left Barry and Ross to gear up, I couldn’t help but wonder if any Twinnies would be here today to bag an autograph and a private showing. Nestled against the barrier, the band trailed onto the stage in the middle of the store as a crowd of eager fans screamed. Before this, I thought I knew what it meant to stand in the front row. I was wrong. Sam drops down from the stage, opens the barrier, and instructs me to come forwards. Neck straining, I watched them in the closest physical way, and felt the very sweat and spit of Sam trickle on my face. They turned HMV into an arena, performing the hits of GLA with all the passion and might of a stadium tour.