Turin Brakes are back at The Wedgewood Rooms to ride out the Invisible Storm

Turin Brakes
Turin Brakes
The Torpedoes, taken at Southsea Common War Memorial, March 2018. Picture by Shaun Nightmare.

Two bands, two singles, one show for Torpedoes' and Fainites' launch night

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After swinging in and out of fashion, Turin Brakes have been riding the wave of critical and commercial acclaim again of late.

And it was a set at last summer's Victorious Festival here in Southsea that helped the folk-rock act confirm they were on the right track.

'That was one of our favourite festivals we’ve done in years,' says singer/guitarist Olly Knights. 'We do a lot of smaller boutique-y festivals where we’re quite high up on the bill, but we don’t get to do many mainstream festivals that much any more, but that one was.

'We were in the middle of the bill and we only had a short set – we thought it might go against us, we’re going to have to work really hard to make this work, but somehow we managed to get all of the key elements of what we’d do in our own headline sets in to that 25 minutes, and it worked.

'And we got to hang out with Elbow again! We hadn’t seen those guys in years, there were a lot of nice connections going on backstage, it turned out to be a really nice day.'

Early albums like their 2001 debut The Optimist and its follow-up Ether Song were hits and yielded the singles Underdog (Save Me) and Pain Killer.

But they were unable to keep the momentum going as attention turned elsewhere.

However, 2016's album Lost Property was well-received and saw the band receive more attention than they had in a while.

Speaking on the day of new album invisible Storm's release, Olly says of its reception: 'On the whole it’s been pretty good. We were just sitting around the table and congratulating each on weathering the critical storm fairly well.

'It’s not easy, we’ve certainly had our ups and downs in that department over the years, but this time it seems to be more bad than good!'

Have they felt things moving back in their favour?

'We’ve definitely felt there’s been an upturn, you can feel it, it’s still kind of going from Lost Property. That did go down very well, and this one seems to be going down in a similar suit.

'We appreciate it because we know what it is to be ignored as well.

'The brilliance of it doesn’t get lost on us.

'If you’ve been around for 18 years, you’ve seen it all.

'We’ve never been a huge band, but we’ve had our moments where we’ve sort of crept up to that level.

'It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster, but I think we’re at a point now where we’re so independent – we’re on an independent label, we run the band ourselves – we feel every single bit of goodwill towards us now. But when you’re on a big label you might not notice it, you might not really feel what’s happening on the ground level. But now when someone takes an interest we notice – and it’s lovely, a really nice thing. There’s no middle man any more.

'Having done the complete opposite at the start of our career when we were very protected an in a major label bubble, you could feel quite disassociated with the reality of what’s going on, but now it’s very much feet on the ground and we like that, I think it suits us.'

Olly started the band with childhood friend Gale Paridjanian. For the past few albums the pair have been joined by the rhythm section of Rob Allum and Eddie Myer who have taken on greater roles in the band.

But did the new album come around because the label wanted them to strike while the iron is hot?

'It was very much us telling ourselves to strike while the iron is hot, we don’t have anyone telling us anything any more! We felt it in the water and it was so obvious to not drift off of things - we had this momentum from Lost Property and we want to build on it.

'We are ambitious, we still want to reach people and cast our net as wide as we can. We make music for people to listen to, we don’t make it just to please ourselves.'

While Olly and Gale still take the lead in the songwriting, their rhythm section are more integral to the process these days.

'It certainly starts off the old way, but then we very quickly being in Rob and Ed - much quicker these days, before we even hit the studio.

'They’re very involved in the fundamentals of the song because they’ve been in the band for a long long time, and they know just as well as we do how to present our songs – their ideas are just as valid.

'It’s very helpful because we can actually get a bit lost in the woods, me and Gale, because we’re so close to them. Sometimes they act as buffer zones and let us know when things aren’t as good as they should be! We’ve got a good system in place, it’s healthy.'

And Olly remembers very well the moment they realised a new album could be quick in the offing.

'There was soundcheck in Holland where we started playing what is the very first track on the album, Would You Be Mine – we came up with that instantaneously.

'One minute there was nothing, then Rob and Ed started grooving and Gale started playing this really nice expansive stuff over the top and then I started singing pretty much the finished lyrics. It all just locked into place. After it finished we all stopped and looked at each and went: "Bloody hell, what was that!"

'We chucked an iPhone on the floor in record mode and recorded a rough version of it there and then. After that I went home and started writing because the spark was there and it was calling.'

And Olly admits they're keen to keep making hay while the sun is shining.

'You’re always a year ahead, at least. We have to be. We have to be talking about what’s happening next year. It’s like a tug boat, it takes a long time to circle. We’re always making plans.

'But today, we’re just enjoying the buzz of putting out a record, and it is still such a buzz, I must admit.

'Getting reactions off of people, even reading things on Twitter – it’s so magical to put something out and have an audience give a damn about it.'

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Saturday, March 31

wedgewood-rooms.co.uk