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Dear Scotland: Twin Atlantic Interview

Twin Atlantic were definitely one of the buzz bands at the CMJ Festival last month and tomorrow night the Glasgow band will kick off a European tour with The Fall of Troy in Germany. Tour details follow an interview that drummer Craig Neale gave us ahead of the band’s first ever New York gigs.

Twin Atlantic — You’re Turning Into John Wayne

Dear Scotland: Where are you now and what did you do last night?
Craig Neale, Twin Atlantic: We’re currently in a Burrito place in Manchester called Bar Burrito, whose mascot is a donkey called Derek. I wish that was a joke. We’re here to play at In The City, an industry showcase event which we also played last year and it was terrible! It’s been slightly better this time round. Slightly.

DS: Paul McCartney said he got into music to avoid a job — and get lots of girls. What made you get into music?
Craig Neale: To let down my parents! Only joking, they’ve been very supportive. I became obsessed with the Nirvana when I was around 15 and decided that I wanted to do what they did. I tried various things at Uni but I kept coming back to music, it’s the only thing that fulfills me really!

DS: What is your favourite song of yours to play right now?
Craig Neale: Probably a song called Human After All as I can play it as fast as I want and nobody complains!

Twin Atlantic — Human After All

DS: As well as this week’s New York shows you played SXSW earlier this year, you’ve been in LA, Germany and all over the UK, is there one particular place that you really looking forward to playing?
Craig Neale: In terms of places we’ve been I’d love to do SXSW again next year, it was just such an insane experience. A whole city in Texas transformed with music, incredible. And every time we go to Germany you always get treated like a king. As for places we haven’t been, my dream is still to play in Japan. I’m really into Japanese culture, and hopefully this band can be my way in to experience it!

DS: Do you feel more Scottish when you are abroad, or do you adapt well to new places? Anything you’ll miss about Scotland?
Craig Neale: I feel more Scottish when I’m in other English speaking countries, it makes me really proud to come from this country. We’re a very honest nation and being in a lot of these places makes you realise how good you have it back home. Conversely, when we’re in mainland Europe and I can’t speak a word of the language, I feel pretty embarrassed. That said, we thrive on going to new places and getting to let people know about Glasgow and Scotland.

DS: Are there any Scottish musicians, past or present, that have influenced you?
Craig Neale: Well, we toured with a band called Biffy Clyro that we all grew up listening to and watching their profile rise. It’s something that gets mentioned in a lot of reviews and interviews, I don’t necessarily think we’re influenced by them musically — but they are a band we look up to an awful lot. They’ve proven that you can do your own thing and make it big. I think the comparisons come mainly as we play rock music with Scottish vocals. We also learned a lot from them when we did that tour with them. We were a young band and they showed us how you should handle yourself professionally on the road.

Biffy Clyro — Machines

DS: What will be your first words on stage in New York City at CMJ?
Craig Neale: Em, maybe the sound of us all snoring? We won’t have slept for two days and we’re like babies — if we don’t sleep our bodies stop functioning.

DS: How do people react when they discover you are Scottish?
Craig Neale: I think it’s always quite obvious from the way Sam sings, but it’s usually very positive as the Scottish nation has a very good name for themselves. And we’ve yet to meet any descendants of King Edward.

DS: What should the Scottish national anthem be?
Craig Neale: I think the Scottish National Anthem should be changed to any song by Aereogramme, as Scotland is considered the perennial underdog and Aereogramme are the band I always thought should be massive but never were. And all their songs were incredible!

DS: What is the best after-show experience you’ve had?
Craig Neale: Good question! I guess that every time we’ve played a Glasgow show in the last year we’ve sold-out a slightly bigger venue and afterwards Dave from DF concerts would bring in a bottle of champagne and we’d all share a glass together. It always feels like we’ve achieved something in those moments, so hopefully there’ll be plenty of champagne bottles to come!

DS: And finally, many many years from now, when you finish your farewell world tour, is there one place to where you would like to retire?
Craig Neale: There’s a place called Harris off the coast of Scotland where I’ve always wanted to live when I’m older, I go there every year with my family if I’m not away with the band. It’s so picturesque and peaceful, the only thing is that I don’t want to be one of those city guys that moves to a secluded place and adds nothing to the community. So I’ll need to start learning how to plough a field pretty soon.


Twin Atlantic — What is Light? Where is Laughter?

Twin Atlantic have released a split EP with the band Finch, featuring two new Finch recordings (a new song, and a cover of “Bury White” by Far) along with “Lightspeed” and “What Is Light” from Twin Atlantic’s new mini-album Vivarium.

A limited number of these EPs are available from the band’s webstores.

UK/Europe –

In The City Preview

Rocksound have done a preivew.

What will the review of the show say in Rock Sound magazine when it hits stores next month?
“Twin Atlantic stunned the audience by serenading a live whale halfway through their set. The same whale later joined them onstage for a cover of the Micheal Jackson hit ‘Bad’ before diving into the crowd and crushing thirty people. Everyone left saying it was the greatest gig they’d ever been to.” (Craig Kneale, Drums)

Twin Atlantic Interview With Sphere Mag

Sphere Magazine done an interview with Barry and Ross from the band

“When we write songs we kind of submerse ourselves in our own world”

S] Okay, so we are in York right now – you’ve said that you played before and there were only a few people in attendance so how was it coming back?

Ross] Yeah, there were considerably more people in this time than there was the last time we were here. It was great because people seemed to know a little bit more about the band and were singing along, so that was amazing.

S] You seemed to really give it 110 per cent out there, how was it to be able to come back and just let lose with the crowd being so responsive?

Barry] It was really liberating. I mean we always have to give everything when we go out on stage whatever happens. I mean tonight we were all suffering from colds and flu but we thought, ‘F**k it’, because if people come along to watch us play then we have to show them our appreciation by putting on a great show. Even if only one person more had come since last time, we would feel the same – but we were pleasantly surprised.

S] Can you tell us about the themes and concepts behind the new album?

Barry] Well, the name of the record is ‘Vivarium’ and a vivarium is a glass enclosure for life basically. It’s the idea that when we write songs we kind of submerse ourselves in our own world and the songs on this album were all created in this artificial environment that we created for ourselves, and I guess, for the themes – when we first released ‘A Guidance From Colour’, it was very much a mish-mash of different ideas and there was some quiet, loud, heavy and soft elements and quite often we had all of these different dynamics on one song and I guess with this record we just wanted to take that idea and push it a little bit further and we needed to make sure that we took what Twin Atlantic was and make it better.

Ross] Yeah, it was very important for us to develop more. When we released our first EP, we hadn’t really been a band for any time at all and we were really just trying to get to know ourselves but with this album, we are trying to set out our own stall if you like, and create our own entity and not just something that was pieced together from parts of other things that we liked.

Barry] I mean, obviously we can’t speak from Sam’s (vocals) point of view but I think that on our previous release he was very introspective and he would write about family situations or his own personal life whereas on this record dealt with broader topics and stuff that really relates to everyone.

S] We saw you guys at Sonisphere which was a few months back now, and one song really hit us, a track called, ‘You’re Turning Into John Wayne’ what inspired that track and the lyrics?

Ross] Some people think it’s an anti-American song and some people think it’s anti-the rest of the world. However it’s more a reflection on American culture and the fact that whether we like it or not – it has taken over the world and it’s in every person’s life. So, it’s more a commentary on that. It’s not really anti or pro anything. It’s just about making people aware that it’s in every film you watch and every TV program and even the majority of bands that you like.

Barry] Yeah, but it’s not about us pointing the finger at everyone else though because that would be hypocritical but that’s why the song also has the lyric, ‘Every song I own is made in the USA, so it’s pointing out the fact that all the stuff that we watch and listen to alongside the clothes that we wear are all related to what’s going on stateside.

Ross] It’s kind of embarrassing to think that we don’t use our own minds enough to do our own thing really.

S] Going back to Sonisphere – that was on a much bigger scale – tell us what it was like to perform in front of such a great crowd?

Barry] I mean, most people come to watch us when we play in Scotland because that’s our home. Of course, the further south we go, less and less people have heard our music so when we get as far south as Knebworth and we get that kind of reception, it really is amazing. We weren’t expecting much in terms of the crowd but we were very surprised and very humbled by it all. Whether or not they had heard us before it didn’t matter because the amount of people that came up to us afterward and said, ‘I’ve seen you before and that was great’ or ‘That’s the first time we’ve heard you and you were great’ – it was amazing, and I we really enjoyed it.

Ross] It wasn’t like the tent was packed before and everybody left either. It was quiet at the start and then it got bigger and the people that were there from the start of the show didn’t leave so it was very cool and it was good to know that people were getting into it.

S] You guys went to LA to record the new album what was it like working with the acclaimed producer John Travis?

Barry] It was surreal to be honest. Prior to that we’d only recorded the EP and that was in Wales and it was four tracks and the whole thing was done in four days. We had to scrape all of the money from our part-time wages together to record. This time though when we got signed to an actual label and given a budget to record and we could really spend time on things, and really think about how we wanted the album to sound. So yeah, it was weird to be given the opportunity to do that, but to also be able to record on the other side of the world in a place where none of us had ever been before. It was really nuts.

Ross] Definitely. We did the EP in four days and this time we had two-and-a-half months. At the beginning we were like, ‘We’re going to have two months and a week left’ but obviously the more time that you have, the more time that you spend on things and sure enough we were there ‘till the last minute trying to wrap things up.

Barry] The good thing about going to America we found was that we really had to submerse ourselves into the band. If we were at home, and only another phone call from family or friends – I mean we had friends in Wales as well, so when we recorded the EP we weren’t on our own. But, for this, we were on the other side of the world and so the only people we knew were each other, so we really had to live and breathe the band and that really helped us to focus on how we wanted the record to turn out.

Ross] We didn’t fall out with each other once – I am really proud of us all because we stuck together. [laughs]

S] Examining the differences between your EP and this album, how do you feel that you’ve grown as a band through the music?

Ross] I think that individually, we have all become much better musicians. I mean, looking at Sam when we did the EP, he had not been playing the guitar for all that long. It’s realty apparent on the new record that as we’ve been practicing and he has been writing more and more and has got a lot better. So, I think that all of us individually have progressed. I think now we all play for the song and not for our own ears. Everything we do is now based around the song we are creating. I think it’s like, we have grown up and instead of us trying to play, and pack in as much as possible, we have learned to sit back. We have definitely progressed as band and it’s not so much about ourselves anymore.

Barry] I know that a lot of bands come out and say that they’ve matured a lot on a new record but I think we have literally matured over this whole process and as Ross was saying instead of all of us saying, ‘I want to do something here and here’, it was more about what works best for the song. Also, when we first started work on our EP, we’ve not only become much more accomplished on our instruments but we’ve grown into each other a lot as musicians and learned about how we each work and how we can work together. When we first recorded our EP we had not been together long at all and there was a lot we still didn’t know about each other as people and as musicians and I guess on this record we became much more adept at understanding each other. We were able to play to each other’s strengths and I think that comes across a lot better on this record.

S] Obviously we are based in the North, and we are lead to believe that everything in terms of music is based in the south – we were wondering in England, do you notice a big divide between the north and the south and in terms of the responses that you get?

Ross] To be honest, for us, England at the moment is really like one entity. I mean, there are these little pockets say in Newcastle or Manchester or to a certain extent London where slightly more people come and see us, but there’s no drastic difference. England is a hard place for us and we haven’t toured extensively over here so personally I don’t notice a difference.

S] You’ve said that you are very close to your family and your home surroundings – to what extent do these things influence your material especially in your earlier days?

Barry] I think that coming from Glasgow definitely influences the music. We are all very proud of where we come from and you can really tell that from the fact that Sam sings in his natural accent and it’s the same with the backing vocals – so it definitely carries an influence over our sound and we have never wanted to sound fake. But also, coming from Glasgow – the music scene there is so strong and the are so many good bands and we grew up listening to a lot of great Scottish and English bands so of course, that influenced our music as well but on top of that, coming from Scotland, having the shi**y weather has an effect on everyone. Also, being from Scotland it seems like there is a sense that you are always the underdog and I guess that maybe comes across.

Ross] I think that idea comes across without us really noticing. I mean our music goes from having one guitar playing the quietest thing ever to everybody playing as much as they possibly can – it’s like almost like we are striving to be heard and maybe we don’t realise it but perhaps it’s all about us trying to say, ‘Look at us’ and trying to make a real impact. If you are from Scotland you are always the underdog and you just have to try harder.

S] The world is about to end because of a plague of Zombies – what weapon do you use to defend yourselves and why?

Ross] That’s a good question. What kills zombies?

Barry] It’s about decapitation – so what would be your decapitation method of choice?

Ross] A baby’s leg?

Barry] What? You mean like a normal baby’s leg or a zombie-baby leg?

Ross] Yeah, I would use a zombie baby’s leg.

Ross] I would use a fu**ing crossbow – I have never shot one so that would be cool.

Barry] Do you know that if you are a Scotsman and you are on the walls of York, you can still be fired at and killed legally? It’s an ancient law that’s never been turned over.

S] It’s the Twin Atlantic dinner party – a special celebratory one for the release of ‘Vivarium’ who would you each pick to join you and why?

Ross] Well, I think that Ghandi’s really frail and he needs a good feed.

Barry] I think that we should get the Olsen twins together – I mean, they need a good feed. I’d feed them a good portion of…self-help. [laughs]

S] What are your biggest plans now for the rest of the year – is it all about the touring?

Ross] Pretty much – we are going to get away for as long as we can. We are actually going to try and do another two tours of the UK before the end of the year and in between those two we are hopefully going to try and get into Europe a bit. If things come through for us then hopefully we are going to be in America for a wee while as well. That’s before Christmas, and after that we are going to record our next record, tour in the summer and do some festivals, we’ll then get the record out and that’s it so far!

S] Do you have any ideas for the next record yet?

Barry] Yeah, we are writing it now.

S] What can you tell us?

Ross] I think the key words are that it’s going to be even more over the top.

S] Will the Olsen twins be guesting on it?

Barry] We are hoping Mary-Kate might be the guest obo player and Ashley will be on the stylophone! [laughs]

S] So what’s your message to people that are going to come out and see you this year?

Barry] We are looking forward to seeing everybody who has been nice enough to buy a ticket. No matter how many people.

Ross] Yeah, we are looking forward to seeing both old and new faces, also our message is just to bring your rock neck and some dancing shoes.

For more information visit the band’s official MySpace.

Noise Makes Enemies Interview

Having had a chat with the band many would hail as the new Biffy Clyro almost a year ago, it was high time we tracked down Twin Atlantic’s Craig Kneale again to see how the Scotch rockers have been getting on.

NOIZE: It’s been 10 months since I last met you, can you tell me what has happened to Twin Atlantic since then?

CRAIG KNEALE: I think it was around about that we met Red Bull Records, so after that tour we eventually signed with them in January. From then we were just writing and then we went over to America in March to do South By South West, then drove straight from there to LA to record the mini-album. We were meant to be there for two months, but we stayed for three! Since then we’ve come home and played a few festivals and waited for our record to come out, which came out on Monday! Everything’s happened in such a short space of time, it’s been all go!

N: As you’ve mentioned, you recorded your album in LA, would you like to spend more time over in the States?

CK: At first when we were over there we would’ve said no, I’ve been to New York a few times with my family, which was really cool, but LA was just a bit weird! The people are really strange, but it was really difficult to come home. About a month ago I really started to miss it. I think we’re going to be back over by the end of the year for a tour. I’d love to see more of America, LA isn’t a real place, it’s like a magical land!

N: You played a few gigs when you were over there, how did they go down?

CK: Well we did SXSW, which was unbelievable; it was the coolest thing we’ve ever done! Then we played the Viper Room, Johnny Depp’s old bar, that was kind of cool, we were announced by this compere and came out from behind this red curtain, that was pretty cool actually! Then we played Bamboozle, which was actually a bit shit, all the bands sounded the same! The Get Up Kids clashed with us which was the only band I really wanted to see!

N: Do you have any personal highlights from your time in America?

CK: It’s a bit weird, and a bit homosexual, but it was a total bonding experience! It was just me, Sam, Barry and Ross for ten weeks straight. There were ups and downs, but it was just a great experience! When we’re at home we pretty much just practice and then go home, but we got to spend a lot of time together just the four of us.

N: Are you finding thins a little different now that you’ve signed to Red Bull Records?

CK: In some respects, it’s more different in the sense that we have more people to please! The actual dynamic of the band is the same, we still practice every day, but we know that it isn’t just about us now! It’s definitely a positive thing, there’s a lot more pressure, but we have a lot of opportunities that we never would have had before.

N: In your own words, what can people expect from ‘Vivarium’ (apart from awesome drumming)?

CK: Other than the awesome drumming, it’s just a really good stamp of where we are at the moment. There are a few songs from the beginning of the band, and some that we wrote when we were over in America, it’s like a nice history really! If you liked us before, it’s bigger and heavier, it’s definitely a lot more mature. It’s like the old stuff but better! You can tell we’re a band that has been playing together for two and a half years, as opposed to six months.

N: Why did you decide to re-record ‘Audience & Audio’ above the other tracks off your debut EP ‘A Guidance From Colour?

CK: I think it’s because it’s maybe the most immediate. It’s the first song we wrote as a band which we all thought ‘this is really good’! It’s also that only a select group of people know our band, so we thought it’d be the most impressive song if people heard it.

N: Did it turn out as well as you’d hoped?

CK: Well, it’s different because we recorded it live, so it sounds a lot more aggressive. I really like it, a lot of people don’t like it. Sam’s voice is a lot more grown up on it, it’s completely different to how it used to be, it used to be really low, but now it’s operatic!

N: You’re a band that tours constantly, what are your favourite things about touring, and is there anything you hate about touring?

CK: My favourite thing is getting to see new places and getting to meet and play for people who you’ve never met before. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d get to do things like this. The worst things are playing gigs to empty rooms or the van breaking down in the middle of Exeter at three in the morning, they’re the low points! It ebbs and flows, you play a really shit gig one night, and then it’s fantastic the next!

N: How do you cope with being so far away from home?

CK: It gets a lot easier, it’s becoming like second nature because we’re away from home so much now. It’s harder being at home because I get so restless!

N: You mentioned that you played a few festivals over the Summer, both in the UK and abroad, do you enjoy the festival experience?

CK: Yes, it’s a lot more stressful because you don’t get to sound check and everything, so you just go on and hope for the best! People come and see bands at festivals out of curiosity, so you can make a lot of fans that way, if you play well that is, which we didn’t! It’s really cool playing a show and then hanging around watching others. You get treated so well at festivals in Europe; they treat you like you’re one of the actual big bands! It’s not like that back home!

N: Finally, where would you like to be this time next year?

CK: Hopefully we’ll have our full length album out, but as long as we’re enjoying ourselves and people are still coming to see us we’ll all be very happy!

By Ben Connell