The Twilight Sad embarked on a joint headline tour with fellow Glaswegians Errors. I come from a wee village called Croy, just around a mile or so away from Kilsyth, where the Twilight Sad originate. So it was only natural that I meet my fellow North Lanarkshir-ites (or should that be Lanarkshites?) a few hundred miles away in London. James and Dok are on hand to take some questions but there are a few cameos from the others throughout. We find out that the band are taking a new direction, that London crowds aren’t really as good as everywhere else and about their sexual encounters with their fellow FatCat bands.
The venue is the newly opened XOYO in Shoreditch and the interview takes place in the tiny dressing room with suitcases and equipment strewn across the floor. The room is no more than 20 feet from the stage, meaning the band shout to compete with the tight-as-a-midge’s-fanny beats of Errors in order to make their answers heard. On top of this, we have to deal with the constant comings and goings of other band members, merch guys and photographers picking up equipment, alcohol and clothes etc. But get on with it, we must.
How’s the tour going?
James Graham(JG): Pretty much every night’s been really busy and everybody seems to be into both bands which is the whole point of the tour. Apart from Nottingham, where Mumford & Sons were playing and we were playing right next to them - not that Mumford & Sons fans would like us. And I Am Kloot were playing too. We got about 100 people in there and that was probably the quietest for this tour. The Doghouse in Dundee has been the best so far, although Manchester was really good as well.
The Wrong Car came out recently, what’s the story behind it? Was it from the Forget The Night Ahead sessions or was it something completely new?
JG: The Wrong Car was meant to be first song on album. When we heard the demo we thought we definitely wanted it to be the first song. But it didn’t really work out in the studio how we wanted it to. Then Reflections From The Television came out from nowhere and we thought that would be a great start.
Dok(D): As the sessions went on it [Reflections Of The Television] made more sense, and The Wrong Car made less and less sense. If we’d have put the wrong car on the record the way it was it wouldn’t have fitted anywhere apart from the start, but then when Reflections came out of nowhere we sort of went ‘we’ll come back to it [The Wrong Car]. We all really loved it, and it’s a hard decision to make when it’s one of your favourite songs to decide it’s not going to be on the album because you don’t think its right yet. But we went back to it four months later and came up with something a bit closer to the original demo and thought that we had it. We got Laura (McFarlane, formerly of My Latest Novel) to do all the strings.
JG: Those string parts were already there on the original and you couldn’t really hear them due to the dynamic of the song but you can hear them now.
D: We were blaring loads of noise strings, feeding them through guitar amps and back into the mixer all the way through the record. And aye, it was a great sound but for The Wrong Car it made much more sense to have someone come in and physically play the part.
JG: Important we put TWC out because we didn’t want it to be one of those songs which we put off because it ‘didn’t happen’(in the studio), and saying that we would just leave it. Cause that’s what happens, you write so many songs that don’t surface.
Johnny(JD, Twilight Sad bassist) walks in.
JG: Fancy joining the interview?
JD: Nah, I need to ejaculate *walks to toilet*
How did Errors get involved in doing the remix?
JG: Sleazy’s. Basically we said to Simon (Errors) one night in Sleazy’s that we were looking for b-sides and would he be interested in doing a wee remix. He got it done like a year after the album was finished and we were like ‘Simon, its really good but, the album’s out, the singles are out, what are we going to do with it?’. So it made sense to put it on this. It might alienate people a little, the people who like those songs in their original form, who’ll be asking why does that sound like a dance song? But the whole point is that it’s completely different from the original. I don’t really view it as an EP, it’s more of a twelve inch single that has a few of our friend’s remixes on.
Forget The Night Ahead and The Wrong Car sound like a natural progression from Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, was that intentional?
D: I feel all round that we were much stronger on the second record. I think James and Andy’s song writing progressed and became more accomplished than the first.
JG: Production wise it wasn’t as clean and a bit harsher which could, and probably did, work against us in a few ways.
D: That record was always going to be about the juxtaposition of really good songs we were very happy with but harsh production that tried to be a close to the sound of a live band as possible.
JG: People said they missed the warmth of the first album and I felt like saying ‘well, listen to the first record then’. And the next one’s not going to anything like the first two either.
D: The band who make the same record over and over don’t have a very long career.
Where does the sound go from here?
D: You’ve heard the demos James, eh? A bit Jason Derulo?
JG: *sings* Jason Derulo!! I can’t really speak about how the album might sound because it still at the demo stage but demo-wise it’s a definite departure.
D: The wall of sound is kinda gone. Andy’s demos involve a lot of keyboards, and it’s a lot more considered, the parts are really studied and considered. When I heard the demos I was immediately blown away.
JG: The song writing has changed a bit as well I think. I really don’t like to say it’s the best stuff we’ve ever done because everybody. Again, I think it will alienate some people completely, but the label think it sounds amazing, a bit different but that it still sounds like us. It’s not like we went ‘aw, fuck the guitars, we’re going to do this’. It was more that we wrote the songs and they came out the way they are.
D: Its much stronger to make the record you want to make at the time than to try and pander to the people who already listen to your band. That’s a quick way to make a boring, formulaic record, by rehashing previous ideas. If there are changes in the way you write songs and you feel that it’s going somewhere else, it’s important to just embrace that.
JG: There’s not a lot of verse/chorus either. There’s maybe only two songs with verses and choruses. The rest are mainly story-based, the fact is they progress all the way through then there’s this small part you can relate to that we keep coming back to. It’s hard to explain without hearing it. Basically though, it’ll probably be a bit of a reggae tinge once we get back into it.
D: Are you familiar with the work of Lady Gaga(pronounced g-gah)? Maybe something like that.
The first album had a recurring theme of adolescence, the second seemed a bit darker and more grown-up with a tinge of regret…
JG: A lot of regret! I feel like on the last one I talk about stuff too much. I went through two months of something happening to me where I fucked up a lot, lost someone very close to me and there’s a lot of regret, like, a lot of regret. I spoke too much about the last one, didn’t speak too much about the first but definitely spoke too much about the second. The seconds one’s more personal than the first although the first one was very personal too. The first one was basically about how everyone else was a dick, the second about how I was a dick. The third one will be about how we’re all dicks!!
With an excellent debut album and a fantastic follow-up, do you feel there’s any pressure on you for the third album?
JG: None at all. With the second album I didn’t really feel all that much pressure either but it sorta took us to the next level. Like, I couldn’t imagine we’d ever sell out the ABC. Always thought we’d be a sort of Tuts, Oran Mor sort of band. I was saying to Andy about this, if he feels that there’s no pressure on us anymore. It’s because we’re now changing. There’s pressure on us I suppose that if people don’t like what we put out then, you know, that could be the end of the band. But it just feels that what we’re doing is kinda right. People sort of know what we’re all about now.
D: it’s weird though, people know what we’re all about and now it’s all going to change. Some can be quick to try and write the first record off as a fluke. We feel the second record proved to folk that it wasn’t and now that’s been done we feel that there’s no pressure on making the third record.
JG: Now the songs are written as well I sorta feel like ‘well, if you don’t like this then I don’t understand why you liked the stuff before’ it’s the same sorta songs with different production, a different sound but the songs are as strong as anything we’ve ever written. It definitely has the potential to be better than what’s gone before.
Is there a difference between Scottish and English crowds?
D: I feel like the Scottish crowds are a lot warmer than an English crowd but it doesn’t work on a blanket level. I find if we go Leeds or Manchester, Newcastle, the north especially the crowds are great.
JG: Almost everywhere apart from London really. I don’t mean to slag London but here there’s just a lot of people from magazines and shit who just sort of stand there going like that *imitates wanking a massive knob* and thinking their opinion is better than everyone else there.
D: They spend a lot of the show trying to decide what they think about the band rather than just listening to the music.
JG: turning to Nick (the band‘s press photographer, and a Londoner) What do you think?
Nick: It’s completely different for bands who come from outside of London to come to London. The crowd react differently to them.
JG: There are normally lots of people in London that are right into it but there’s also always a lot of industry people there, and sometimes it can be quite hard to get into playing a gig when you’re looking offstage and you see them just standing around.
Glorious Leader Peenko to let him know that the interview was organised and if there were any questions he wanted me to ask. To which he replied, ‘’Well, there is one…’
Who would you rather gave you a gammy? Frightened Rabbit or We Were Promised Jetpacks?
AM: I’d cut off my dick before I’d go for either one of them!
JG: I would take a gammy off of Billy from Frightened Rabbit. In fact, we all already have.
D: I’d probably go for Wee Lackie(WWPJ drummer), he’s a bit of a looker. Plus from the back he kinda looks like a bird.
JD: We Were Promised Jetpacks. Why? They’ve got really good calves.
JG: We did a pranky to WWPJ when they were in tour in America. Dok pretended to be an American interviewer. *adopts American accent* ‘I’m from WKK, my name’s Davey Maguire. What’s your favourite thing about yourself? What’s your favourite scent, you know? What’s your favourite aroma?’
D: Basically we asked their tour manager to tell Adam as they came off stage that they had a phone interview and we proceeded to give him the worst interview of all time. It was really bad, all in good humour though but really bad. I actually felt a level of guilt about it. I think he’s quite pissed off so, Adam, if you read this, sorry!
You can buy The Wrong Car EP, as well as the rest of the band's back catalogue from the FatCat Records Store
The Twilight Sad - The Wrong Car by peenko