Dying rabbits and burning children aren’t exactly the subject choices for songs that advertise any optimism for a band. Then again, nor does the name The Twilight Sad.
“I don’t like lyrics that harp on about how good life is all the time because that’s just not true and I think reflecting on the bad times helps you appreciate the good. All the songs are very personal because they are either about things that have happened to me or people close to me. My main influences aren’t musical to be honest.”
The band has been together for eight years now and many artists would have used this time to develop or define their signature sound. With a proudly embraced Glasgow twang, these guys got it right from the beginning. Graham describes it as: “Honest, Scottish, sometimes noisy, intense and not pish.
“I’m Scottish and if our songs were going to be honest and genuine I had to be myself, so singing another way was never an option. It’s just the natural way I sing as well. I knew from day one it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste but I don’t care because you can’t please everyone. Arab Strap is one of my favourite bands and as soon as I heard them I knew that I had to embrace where I was from in my songs for them to be honest. My teenage years were spent listening to bands on Chemikal Underground such as Arab Strap, Mogwai and The Delgados.”
The band’s debut release in 2007, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, received notable reviews and criticism. It established their strange electric-noise-folk sound and created a strong precedent for the follow up album to live up to.
“Andy and I write the basic song with vocals and one guitar to begin with and then the band layers up the different elements after that. With [Forget the Night Ahead] there was a little more pressure as people knew the band and had something to compare it to. I just write the same way I always have, I write what comes naturally. Maybe it’s a bit different for Andy as he’s always trying to develop the band’s sound.
“We’ve just finished a couple of acoustic shows and the reaction was amazing. People that thought we were just a noise band were proved wrong and saw that the song writing in the band is probably just as strong as any noise element.”
With that, the band’s live shows can clearly be diverse, almost a reflection of their song writing style. Where they have just completed a series of acoustic sets, most of their live shows are huge atmospheres of noise and distortion with bold, thrashing bursts of energy.
“The feeling you get from writing a song you’re proud of and the feeling of playing in front of a great audience are both amazing but completely different from each other. I’m just lucky to be able to do this and appreciate that more than anything. I wouldn’t say I prefer writing, recording or performing from each other. They all have different kinds of highs and lows I think.”
Andy MacFarlane, Mark Devine and James Graham formed The Twilight Sad back in 2003 in Glasgow and were known for their long and very experimental sets. Coming back to perform in their home town where it all began, is something Graham embraces.
“I love Glasgow and it will always be an important place to play for me. I want us to be as successful as this band possibly can be everywhere, it’s important for us take our music to as many countries and cities as possible. Hometown gigs will always be really special and important. Our friends and family will all be at hometown gig and without their support we would never got as far as we have, so that’s another reason gigs in and around Glasgow will always be extra special.”
We can definitely expect to hear more from them. The band’s latest album No One Can Ever Know is set for release in February and a tour kicking off before the release – details below as well as ‘Kill It In The Morning’, a free download from the album. Expect to hear some more experimental sounds resonate from this record and a usual stunning show from the guys. It’s been a while since the band have done a noise-fuelled tour but Graham comforts us that the band are very much still as close as ever and we will not be disappointed by what’s to come.
“We spend so much time with each other that it would be impossible not to argue or hate each other sometimes but we are all still good friends and hang out when we’re back from tour. We believe in what we’re doing and that’s helped maintain our friendship throughout the band. If this doesn’t work out we’re fucked!”
Finally, is there a soundtrack to James Graham’s life?
“Abba: ‘Super Trouper’.”
The band tour the UK in November:
13 Sun DUNDEE Doghouse
14 Mon ABERDEEN Tunnels
15 Tue INVERNESS Ironworks
16 Wed EDINBURGH Bongo Club
18 Fri GLASGOW Sleazys
19 Sat PRESTON Mad Ferret
20 Sun YORK Duchess
21 Mon LONDON Borderline
22 Tue OXFORD Jericho
23 Wed LEICESTER Firebug
24 Thu HULL Adelphi
25 Fri STIRLING Tolbooth