Twin Atlantic launch Power with Vinilo Records gig
If your band has been away for the best part of four years and you’re reemerging with a whole new direction, there’s easier ways to do it than to debut your new material on two of the biggest stages in the country.
But Twin Atlantic did just that when they played this summer halfway up the main stage bill at the Reading and Leeds festivals.
Five albums in, the Scottish act is about to release Power, an album influenced by their love of LCD Soundsystem and Depeche Mode.
It is a world away from the alternative-rock of their first four long-players – with the last two making the top 10 album charts.
‘It was pretty nerve-racking,’ confirms frontman Sam McTrusty. ‘We basically picked the two biggest festival stages in the UK to try playing our new songs for the first time.
‘It was a bit naive. But we enjoy that part of being in a band – being outside of your comfort zone and doing things that give you a mad adrenaline rush. It’s really addictive as well.
‘We’ve played Reading and Leeds so many times, we thought, let’s try and stretch ourselves here a little bit…
‘We've been desperate to play new songs for ages, some of these songs are over two years old and people hadn't heard them, but we’ve been really bursting at the seams to be like: “Listen to this, it's different!”
‘There was a song called Volcano that got a really good reaction, so that gave us even more confidence to go in and finish the record and that we were doing something right.’
The change in direction wasn't something the band consciously set out to for. With their own studio to work in for the first time, and without a record label, the band began working on demos to shop around for a new deal.
‘It was sort of spawned out of necessity and limitations rather than trying to be really clever about it.’
The sound they were achieving ‘reminded us a lot the music we grew up listening to, and it's something that we never really represented in our sort of rock band format.
‘I think we were just being really respectful of the genre and we got into a band into emulate our heroes, and you just end up in a spiral of: “Oh, no, you can't do that, it needs to sound this way...”
‘But as soon as we started doing what we wanted, this is what we got in the end.
’There was probably a point halfway through where we thought: “Okay, let’s try and pull this together as a body of work”. But in the beginning it was all just winging it.’
As Sam explains, after four albums with Red Bull Records, the band actually chose to be out of contract.
‘We had come to that point where we felt we had outgrown a lot of the things we were involved in.
‘You know when you get these points in relationships where both sides know it’s over, and you still love each other but you want to try and stand on your own two feet? We had reached that moment.
‘I think that made us feel quite comfortable in our own skin for once, because we never really fitted into any one particular subgenre of rock music. It’s quite a cliquey industry and everyone's always trying to be like: “Right, where do you guys fit in?” And we never really did.
‘It's been almost like starting a new band in a way because we didn’t have anyone to answer to. We made the record and then signed to Virgin/EMI, we didn't sign a contract and then go away and make an album for them.
‘We just did it for our ourselves.‘In all honesty, that maybe the thing we're most proud of musically, to date.
‘To hand in the finished piece of work and to be signed up on the merit of just you, that's quite a rewarding experience.’
During the making of Power, guitarist Barry McKenna decided to step back from the music-making process. There’s no rift though – Barry is still very much part of the live set-up, but for a band that has had the same line-up since they formed it was a major change.
‘That was definitely not an easy decision for any of us.
‘The process of going through that was obviously an emotional thing for us, he’s like a brother to us.
‘Our origin as a band was dead grassroots, each baby step of the way has always been together but over time we developed a pattern of how we wrote songs and how we worked.’
As the band’s approach to songwriting shifted, Barry clearly became less comfortable: ’It got to the point where there was an elephant in the room.’
Barry has since been pursuing composing and soundtrack work.
‘It cleared the path for us in the studio as well to be a bit more focused,’ says Sam. ‘It was a really difficult thing to do, but almost almost a decision that saved each side of the divide.’
Now though, with Power due out on January 24, the band ‘can’t wait’ for their fans to hear the full album.
‘I learned to be a bit more selfish about the music that we make because I think that anytime you try to please a fanbase, it can be a slippery slope.
‘But whenever we try and just please ourselves and act a bit more instinctively on what we like, we end up making something more exciting or vital.
‘I feel an equal amount excited and interested to see how people take the change in direction, but then I also equally don't really care because I mean, what are you going to do?
‘I think we're one of those bands that just need to please ourselves more than others.
‘It's a strange place to be that we're caught in a dichotomy where we don't care what others think, but we also really care about what we're doing.’
The show at The Loft is in conjunction with Vinilo Record Store.
The Loft, Southampton
Sunday, January 26