This ‘Twilight Sad’ article was written by Rosie Priest, a GIGsoup contributor
Scottish band ‘The Twilight Sad’ have had an eventful 12 months. A universally praised fourth album (Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave), a series of sell out shows here and in the US and to top that off Robert Smith covered the bands ‘There’s a Girl in the Corner’.
With a new release (Oran Mor) set for October 2015 the bands years of hard work seem to be paying dividends. GIGsoup’s Rosie Priest talks to the band and discovers how this group of friends became one of Scotland’s favourite sons…
Congratulations on topping the Vinyl single chart with ‘It Never Was The Same’, how do you feel about the single?
Thank you very much. I never thought this band would top any charts if I’m honest. If there was a chart for the band with the best and or worst drunken patter then that might have been a possibility. It’s really cool though and a nice way to book end the album campaign. When the album was finished we all thought “It Never Was The Same” would be a single and in the end its ended up being the last single that we are releasing from the album. Hand Held Cine Club have also done a really great video for the song which we all think is really cool. It’s been great to work with those guys as we have been wanting to work with them for a long time.
The B side is obviously a cover by Robert Smith, how did you guys go about approaching him for this project? Was he already interested in working with you and how do you feel about the end result?
I still don’t think I’ve come to terms with, or will ever get over, Robert Smith covering our song. There are things that you dream of when you start a band: selling out a gig, playing in a different country, playing a special venue, even one of your favourite bands liking your music but having a person that has influenced the music that you make and so many musicians around the world taking the time to cover your song was something I never even dared to dream about. The Cure are one of the biggest bands in world and their music will always be loved and remembered. Their music is iconic and they have pushed the boundaries of popular music. So for Robert to have covered a small indie band from Kilsyth still feels like a dream to me. I have so much respect for him. Back in 2009 Stuart from Mogwai had emailed Robert suggesting he gave our a band a listen as he thought he’s really like us. Robert replied saying he was already a fan and Stuart forwarded us the email. Needless to say this made us all very happy.
After we recorded “Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave” Andy sent it to Robert to have a listen, and he said it was ‘BEAUTIFUL’. We wanted to do something special for the “It Never Was the Same” single, as it was going to be the last release from the album. Andy knew it was a pretty far-fetched idea, but he thought he might as well chance his arm and ask Robert if he’d be up for covering one of our songs to feature as a double A-side. We couldn’t believe it when he replied, saying he’d like to cover “There’s a Girl in the Corner”. For a while we thought it might be Barry from Mogwai playing a prank on us. Robert sent the cover over when we were in San Fransisco just after we’d finished our gig that night. I’ll never forget being in the back of the van and us all sitting in silence after listening to it for the first time and trying to comprehend what we’d just hear; I broke the silence with “PLAY IT AGAIN!”. Andy and Robert still talk to each other via email and we’re hoping to meet up pretty soon. He’s been amazing throughout the whole release. All the proceeds he makes from the single go to one of his favourite charities called AMAZE. So many people have discovered our band through him covering our song and I will be forever grateful to him.
You have an amazing show coming up in The Barrowlands at the end of the year, you’ve played there before too, but what does it mean to you to play somewhere as iconic as The Barrowlands in Glasgow, and what does Glasgow mean to you as a band? – does your relationship to the city have a deep significance to your music?
I used to go to the market at The Barrowlands with my dad when i was a young boy and he used to go there with his father. So the Barras has been in my life for a very long time. My Auntie used to go to the Dances at the ballroom back in the day and my grandfather helped lay the famous floor. In some way you could say the Barras is very much in my history and thats why its such a special venue to me. Then as i discovered my passion for music in my early teens and all my favourite bands played there. Since we started this band i had a pipe dream of playing The Barrowlands but i never ever thought that it would ever happen. Its a dream for any band from the Glasgow area and its a right of passage for any band that get to the level in which it becomes possible and not just a dream. So i feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to stand on that stage and perform our music.
‘Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’ was released last year, the album for me seems to be musically a lot more languid and fluid, it flows together rather than jolts you from one song to the next: how did you find writing this record compared to your previous endeavors?
I think the hardest part of writing any album is at the start of the writing process. Andy always has an idea where he wants to take the music before we start writing but you only truly start to know what direction the album is taking when you start to write the songs and let the songs come out naturally. One of the first songs i wrote for the last record was “Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep” and as soon as i wrote that i knew what i wanted the album to be about. After that all the songs just seemed to flow out really easily/naturally. I don’t think we’ve ever really found it hard to write songs once we’ve got started. The main problem would be that we never write when we’re on tour, we’re just not in the right head space and that’s why its hard to get started when there’s one tour after another. We need to be at home and have time to work on the songs without the constraints of being on tour. It might be easier to write on tour if you have a tour bus but we are still in Splitter vans and personal space let alone inspiration is pretty hard to find when your in the back of those vans for hours on end. We don’t all write in the same room as each other either, we send ideas to each other and work on them separately then work together when the basic song is complete.
Who influenced you when you first started out, and have those influences grown and changed with your music?
I’m still influenced by the same things I’ve always been influenced by when I write music: where i’m from, things that have happened to me or my friends and family and the relationships bewween each other. So writing music is a very personal thing for me. As far as musical influences go I’m still listening and inspired by the artists that I was when I started but i hear new things all the time that inspire me so that list grows every week. I think Andy is inspired by different things on each record and you can tell that as i don’t think any of our records sound the same as each other and we are always trying new things. Even though i am still inspired by the same things i’m always trying new things as well. As you get older you hopefully become wiser (i’m still not sure that’s the case with me) and see the world from a different perspective than you did when you wrote the last record. Things change and so do you over time, people come in and out of your life and new influences appear every day as life goes on. That’s how i develop and move things forward in lyrical terms but the main reason why i write has always stayed the same, its like a weird therapy for me. I like to think i’ve moved forward and progressed melodically on each record as the music that Andy is writing and sending me is pushing our sound forward into new directions and developing our sound so my writing is also always developing.
You have been working together for a really long time and done some amazing things, do you think the dynamics of the group change over time?
We started this band as a group of friends that loved playing music together and the reason we’re still doing this is because we are friends that love playing music together. We’ve managed to stay friends throughout it all, yes we’ve fallen out at times and we will again in the future but we all believe in what this band is and what its capable of achieving now. We have already achieved more than we ever thought we would but as we’ve achieved that there becomes a hunger to do more and see how far we can go but it also comes back to us being friends writing music together and as long as that is the case we’ll keep pushing ourselves and keep doing what we do.