At last month’s Great Escape in Brighton, we caught up with two of the finest live acts in the UK, let alone central Scotland, before they performed on the Levi’s OnesToWatch stage at Audio. After chatting to Dananananaykroyd, we spent some time with The Twilight Sad.
What’s in store for The Twilight Sad for the next few months?
James Graham: Well, the new record out mid-September. It’s recorded, just being mastered. We actually just got the artwork for it today. So it’s kind of all there, the track-listing was finally decided today as well.
Does the artwork have the same theme that your previous releases have had?
J: Like the music on the record it’s going to be familiar, but slightly different. We’re hoping to develop a theme across our albums with it. It looks brilliant, I actually like it more than the first one.
Whose idea was the Goo pastiche? (The Twilight Sad’s 2008 live compilation gets the title, Killed My Parents and Hit The Road , and its artwork from the 1990 Sonic Youth album)
J: That was Andy [MacFarlane, guitar]. We were playing in America with Mogwai, we’ve just finished supporting them out there, and Thurston Moore comes to the gig. So we were thinking ‘fuck’ and hoping he didn’t see the merchandise table. They haven’t sued us though. Yet.
You should keep it up then!
J: Aye, we might do The Beatles next [MG is wearing a Revolver t-shirt] or Pet Sounds. How many other people can we rip off? We are working our way through them all!
Any schedule for touring in the UK coming up?
J: Definitely, when the record’s out. We’ve got a small run of dates this month like Stag and Dagger and here obviously. We’ve also got Hop Farm in Kent this July.
There do seem to be more and more of these smaller urban festivals springing up of late.
J: Yeah, definitely for those that can’t get to the big festivals. That said the End of The Road festival, always a strong line up and is the best one we’ve been to so if they’re reading this. Book us! It would be great to play Glastonbury if we got the chance as well.
You got your first review via Teletext’s Planet Sound [former home of Muso's Guide's Editor, Natalie Shaw], how important a jumping off point was that?
J: I think it’s always nice if someone is saying something good about you. It wasn’t just the review itself; people were writing letters in to The Void as well. They turned a lot of people on to us. Especially as, growing up, we used to go on Planet Sound a lot. So what they did for us, giving us album of the year as well for our debut at such a well respected outlet.
I’ve heard that the new record is louder, darker, bigger….
J: … and better! It is all of those but it’s also more melodic as well.
Have you been working with Peter Katis again this time out?
J: A lot of the time, on the first record, people have said that Peter Katis produced it, but really Andy did and Peter Katis mixed it. Andy did the same on this one and Paul Savage (The Delgados) recorded it.
Because looking at the list of other bands that Katis has worked with like The National, Interpol and Mercury Rev on Deserter’s Songs and especially with that Mercury Rev album I’ve always been struck by the way that your songs build to a crescendo, albeit it a louder fashion, in a similar way.
J: Hmm, those are all brilliant bands. We felt on this record, I mean there’s no doubt about it we are proud of the first record, that we wanted to go for it and not get into the trap of being lazy and we thought with the same people we might have got comfortable and it can reflect on the album if you do get too comfortable. We wanted to keep some things the same but also some things different.
There does seem to be now with the higher emphasis on touring and so on, an element of pressure off bands slightly when they go into a second record that wasn’t the case maybe 10-15 years ago.
J: There was a suggestion that we should try and get the second album out very quickly after the first but we weren’t that keen on the idea. We needed a bit of time on it.
Most second albums benefit greatly from being tried out on the road. I think second time out; if you rush it, it does show.
J: We’ve been on the road a lot of the time, trying out new songs and new arrangements. We didn’t really get that with the first record because we recorded it after four gigs. When we were signed and went over to America, by the time we came back we had played more gigs in the US than in Glasgow. It was like a whirlwind.
On the recent compilation of live songs the cover versions, how did they come about?
J: That was really in order to fund the Mogwai tour and that was the way of doing it. The covers, at first we weren’t that into the idea of doing it but once we had we were really happy with the results. We all like the bands that we covered and we had done that Smiths’s cover [‘Half APerson’] a couple of times on the radio and that worked quite well. ’Twenty Four Hours’ we worked into the set after recording it and it was fun to play, although I had to keep taking the lyrics on stage.
So did the new recorded get influenced by those bands you covered at all, or has their been anything else that has channelled into the recording process?
J: Not really, I don’t think there’s been anything specific that has influenced this one that hasn’t always been a general influence. More than anything we try and avoid sounding like other bands in the studio.
So there’s a list of people you haven’t been influenced by?
J: Ha ha! Yeah, I think that’s more accurate.
So if someone realised a song was starting to sound a bit like <insert band name> it stopped.
J: Pretty much! (In the background Andy is playing the riff from Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘The Riverboat Song, badly’)
Can we expect that on the next live album?
J: It’s his solo project!
The whole of Moseley Shoals.
Andy: It’s going to be the whole of Oasis’s Be Here Now, acoustic though.