Interview With Twin Atlantic - 20th April 2011

Photo Of Twin AtlanticBen caught up with Barry McKenna from Twin Atlanitc to talk about their forthcoming debut album 'Free', the exposure they have been getting and much more.

Your UK tour begins a week today, are you feeling at the moment?
Barry McKenna (Guitar/Cello): I’m really looking forward to it. We did a small headline tour earlier in the year, but there are a few cities on this tour that we haven’t played in for what seems like a very long time. We’re really excited about getting back to those places, especially with the new record coming out, it’ll be nice to play some new music to people.

Before that you’re playing Groezrock on Friday, how are you feeling about this?
Barry: It’s always really exciting to travel abroad and play music to people in a foreign country. We’re excited about that aspect, but we’ve not had many opportunities to play in Belgium before so this will be the biggest show we’ve played there. It’s a big opportunity to go out and meet new people and make some new fans. Festivals are always a bit tricky though, you turn up and literally throw your stuff on stage haphazardly and get on with it!

You’re no strangers to playing in Europe, how do those shows differ to UK ones?
Barry: The shows are definitely a lot different. People have such different attitudes to music, typically if you go and see a band over here you don’t really pay that much attention to whoever’s supporting. However, over in Europe, they show as much respect to the support as they do to the headliners. I’ve noticed that the same thing happens over at festivals too. They certainly make the most of it; the stages are almost as busy first thing in the morning as they are after the headliners have been on. That doesn’t happen so much over here, stages get gradually busier as the day progresses. It’s just a slightly different attitude, so it’s not to say that they are necessarily better, they’re just different.

Your new album Free comes out on May 2nd, what can people expect?
Barry: The other guys are a lot better at answering this question than I am! It’s just an honest rock record, we all got a bit disillusioned with the industry but now we’re back on track and where we want to be. We went into the studio with Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Pixies) who has worked with so many bands. My first ever band was named after a Pixies song that Gil is responsible for, so to work with a guy of that magnitude was good for our band. He’s just about honest music for honest people, no bullshit; just good, straight forward rock and roll songs. I don’t like to say too much about it because I want people to make up their own minds.

It seems like a long time since Vivarium came out, how will Free differ?
Barry: So many bands use the cliché of ‘maturing’, so I think we’ve progressed, that’s a better word. Nobody wants to hear the same album five or six times, although some bands have made careers out of doing that! My favourite bands are those that do something different every time, bands like Radiohead or Muse. I think you can still tell that it’s us, but the main difference is that we became better song writers. When we first started writing songs we were very young and we all felt like we had a point to prove. We felt that we had to do things weirdly and angularly, but now we’re at ease with the fact that a good song is a good song. There’s a lot more simplicity with this album, I’m not saying that the songs are easy and there aren’t intricate parts, but the songs are more coherent and easy to follow. It definitely still sounds like us; Sam’s got a fairly unmistakable accent! We always joke that he could sing over a reggae band and it would probably still sound like Twin Atlantic!

I’ve noticed that ‘Crashland’ is finally getting its moment, after being a live favourite for so long, why is it only just appearing now?
Barry: We actually toyed with the idea of putting it on Vivarium but it just didn’t fit. We’re kind of in the era where people listen to singles, but we’re still part of the old school where we like to sit and listen to full records. We tried to fit it on but it just wouldn’t work with the selection of songs. We could’ve forced it on there, but it wouldn’t have felt right, especially as we get such a good reaction from people when we play it live. When we were writing Free we had 20+ songs to choose from, but when we sat down and decided what would fit with what ‘Crashland’ was definitely in there. It may seem a bit selfish that we’ve kept it to ourselves for this long, but we wouldn’t have been true to ourselves if we just forced it onto a record where it didn’t fit. I just hope that people aren’t disappointed by it!

Good things come to those who wait!
Barry: You’re obviously more optimistic than I am! I’m a glass-half-empty kind of guy, so we’ll go with your attitude, I like it better!

It’s fair to say that you’ve been getting a lot more exposure lately, has this been strange for the band?
Barry: We haven’t really been aware of things being that different to be honest. We’ve certainly had more exposure in terms of certain radio DJs taking more interest and playing our songs on Radio One and stuff like that. We’ve had the occasional random thing like that played on the radio but it didn’t happen that frequently. We’ve had a really good response from what’s been played so far by the listeners and the people who work at the stations, that’s a massive compliment for us. It’s really rewarding because we’ve put so much into this record, it’s nice to see that more people are taking notice of our band. There’s only so much that radio play can do for a band. Your single could be played on the hour, every hour but if people don’t like it then they won’t buy it. We can talk all day about exposure, but we’ll only be able to judge how that has helped when the album eventually comes out.

You need to be more optimistic!Y
Barry: Don’t get me wrong, I am optimistic! We’ve achieved exactly what we set out to achieve and we’ve made an honest record that we really love first and foremost. We feel like we’re almost done with this record now, we’re looking forward to playing it live and we feel like we’ve held our end of the bargain. At the end of the day I think pessimism is a Scottish trait, we’re used to being the underdog! I think I’m just realistic, not everyone is going to love your band. We’ve been fortunate enough to find some people that do, but we can only hope that this record will take us another step in that direction and those that already like our band can connect even more. We do have massive ambitions but we’re also humble and realistic, we want people to grow with us. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m being pessimistic, but my mum always told me not to be too greedy!

You’ve gained a reputation for being an extremely hard working band, what is it that keeps it fresh and exciting?
Barry: We just really enjoy what we do. It’s kind of ridiculous, but we get to live our dream. We’re four best mates and we get to travel the world doing something that we love, sometimes it doesn’t feel like work. There are obviously elements of hard work involved, nobody wants to drive ten hours through the night for two weeks straight playing a show every single night without a day off but you have to put it into perspective. Have you worked hard? Yes. Are you knackered? Yes. But did you have an amazing experience? Yes. I’ve said that we’re really ambitious and at the end of the day you’re not going to get anywhere by sitting still. You’ve got to put the hard work in if you want the end result, just the same as any other profession. If you want to be a professional footballer you have train hard, that’s how we’ve always worked.

Festival season is fast approaching, do you have any plans to play any of the big UK ones?
Barry: Hopefully we’re going to play all of them. Nothing’s been confirmed as of yet but we’re currently looking at all of our festival options in terms of the UK. Hopefully in the next week or two we’ll be able to say which ones we’re playing for definite, but as of yet nothing is concrete. We want to play as many shows as possible so we’re going to be at as many as we can. Time will tell!

Finally, what’s next for Twin Atlantic?
Barry: We’ve kind of set ourselves a president. In the past year out of a year and half we haven’t really had the opportunity to do any headline tours. We’ve had so many opportunities to play with some massive bands that we admire and respect that we haven’t been able to fit in as many headline shows as we’d have liked to. Now we’re going to try and play as many shows as we possibly can. It’s good playing with all these big bands but it can be equally frustrating because you only get to play for half an hour. With the new record coming out we want to be out there playing as many new songs as we can whilst still playing the old ones too. We already did a headline tour at the beginning of this year, not many bands can say that they’re heading out on their second UK headline tour by May! We’re already started to deliver on the promises we made ourselves so hopefully it will continue in the same way. Oh, and the album’s coming out on May 2nd, I should probably mention that too!

Interview By Ben Connell
 Band Members

Sam McTrusty
Barry McKenna
Ross McNae
Craig Kneale
 Latest Releases
Twin Atlantic - Free
Release Date - 2nd May 2011

1. Edit Me
2. Time For You To Stand Up
3. Apocalyptic Renegade
4. Yes, I Was Drunk
5. Dreamember
6. Free
7. Crash Land
8. Make A Beast Of Myself
9. The Ghost Of Eddie
10. Serious Underground Dance Vibes
11. Eight Days
12. Wonder Sleeps Here
13. We Want Better, Man
 Band Related Links
Twin Atlantic Myspace