Twin Atlantic have recently embarked upon their biggest UK healine tour to date, we had a chat to vocalist Sam McTrusty and guitarist Barry McKenna before their show at The Haunt in Brighton. To hear all about grammar, their favourite Disney characters and which band member Sam would marry, read on…
So, tell us how you guys started out?
Sam: Ross, our bass player, and me…? I almost said “myself” but I think that’s grammatically incorrect. Ross and I went to school together and we kinda got into American rock bands and stuff at the same time, so that’s how we became friends, I suppose. We started going to gigs together; bands like New Found Glory and Blink-182. So then, I dunno, he kinda played guitar for a while and I thought that was cool, and a few years later I started writing some songs and we just started playing together, and that’s how we met Barry and Craig (our drummer). I dunno, ever since we first talked about what our idea of being in a band was and how much commitment we wanted to put into it, we just kinda kept going from that day taking it pretty much at 100% seriousness level. That’s kinda it. I wish there was an easier story! Maybe we should just make one up… Barry used to be a doctor and he rescued me from, err… something. But no, it’s basically a classic boy meets boy, plays guitars-
Barry: Boy meets boy meets boy meets boy.
Sam: Boys meet boys.
That sounds a little bit gay ;)
Sam: Hey, that’s fine with me, man! S’fine with me!
So you mentioned blink 182, we’ve done a bit of research and you’ve obviously supported them. How was it with them being people you looked up to growing up?
Barry: Kinda surreal even for me, even though when I was growing up I wasn’t the biggest Blink-182 fan, even outside of that no-one can get away from how big they are. They’re one of those bands where, like, I would always say to my mum and my dad “oh, we’re supporting Smashing Pumpkins” and they’re like “who?” or “we’re supporting…” and you name all the bands you’re supporting and they wouldn’t know any of them, but you go “oh were supporting Blink-182″ and they go “ohh right, I’ve heard of them!”. They’re just one of those colossal stadium bands, so the fact that we got asked to support them was just such a massive compliment and playing to that many people was such a privilege. So, yeah, it was cool, and we learned a lot from it as well. Tom, especially, was quite forthcoming, giving advice and stuff like that, so that was pretty sweet.
So, for people who haven’t heard your music before, how would you describe your sound?
Sam: I’d say it’s definitely rock music, that’s the only pigeon hole I would really put it in but I think it’s quite varied, ‘cause we’ve got slower, like, really fucking emotional songs, and then we’ve got other ones that are kinda like throw away just, like, to a party songs – ones that we wrote just for people to have a good time to. We’ve got other ones that have kinda cinematic instrumental elements to them, but then there’s other ones that are, like, classic pop song structure. So it’s kind of all over the place but it all just kinda falls under the bracket of rock music.
When you’re on tour, does it feel strange to be so far from home?
Barry: It feels stranger to be at home now. Because we’re so often touring on the road or recording, doing this and that, so home is weird now. We’re like “oh what do we do at home?”
So what are you looking forward to next year? Do you have anything lined up?
Sam: We haven’t really thought about it! I mean, we’ve kind of mapped out roughly what we might be doing: probably gonna be touring in America again, hopefully doing some more headline UK shows (that’s a big hopefully because we really want to do it), touring in Europe again, and then, in between all that sort of stuff, writing new songs and hopefully getting to put out a new album much later on in the year. But I dunno, we’re kind of, like, so in the present, if you know what I mean; we’re trying to enjoy all the stuff that’s happening just now, we’ve not really focussed too much on the future yet. We just see how it goes, that’s kind of how our band operates. We’ve always kinda focussed more on what’s happening next month than what’s happening next summer.
Would you say that’s how you write your songs as well?
Sam: Yeah, it kinda is. I mean, there’s a little bunch of them – maybe a handful – that took like a weird journey over, like, two or three years to finally get to where we were all happy with them, but it’s usually something that’s pretty immediate and just kinda depends on what mood we’re in, or what mood I’m in, the words come about that way.
So would you say that you’re the one who starts the creative process on most of the songs?
Yeah. It usually starts at my end because I’ve got this weird thing where – there’s a reason behind it – basically, because I’m singing and putting my personal touch on the music we make together, I’ve kinda always wanted it to be my words so it’s something that I really believe in, y’know? Like, where if it’s you own message you can get behind it a bit more? That’s why I took on writing all the lyrics and stuff. The songs usually start with me on guitar – one guitar that maps out the song, and then, as a band, we kinda fix that and make it into something worth showing people. ‘Cause Barry and Ross especially have got a lot more musical knowledge than I do. They always kind of make the crucial decision that makes it into a really good song. It’s a weird process but it’s kind of the way we found works for us.
Now we’re on to the slightly silly questions! So, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Barry: Everyone always give the same answers, right? Like “Invisibility”, “I’d love to fly”, ‘cause let’s face it they’re the best, or fucking “Super-strength”, but I’d love to have the super ability to read someone’s mind. But I’d like to also have the ability to switch it off, ‘cause that could be soul destroying after a while… Everyone, in my head, going “that guys such a dick!” all the time.
Sam: ‘What Women Want’ – Mel Gibson!
Barry: Yeah, if it was on all the time it would become a curse, exactly like that.
Sam: We could call you ‘On/Off Man’! That would terrify me if you could read my mind. Erm, shit… I love super powers and all the stuff so I don’t even know how to answer that! Oh, to never age, but that’s not, like, a vanity thing. I just get really freaked out about getting sick or, like, having a really bad illness or something like that. I know that can happen to you when you’re young, but it s not happened to me yet, touch wood. Yeah, I’d just stay young forever… Some sort of weird Michael Jackson complex!
Are you guys familiar with the game “shag, marry, kill”?
Sam: Yeah, yeah.
Sam fills out one of our mad libs
Okay, so, “shag, marry, kill”: the other three members of the band…?
Sam: Mine would all be Craig; in that order! Use his body, abuse his heart and then just, fuck it, cut him off, man! Yeah.
Who is your favourite Disney character?
Sam: The Beast from ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Not 100% on that but he was the one that kinda immediately came to mind. I quite like Mufasa from ‘The Lion King’ too; he’s a very majestic guy.
Barry: I’m a big fan of Robin Williams’ portrayal of the Genie in Aladdin.
Before they left we asked Twin Atlantic to fill out our mad libs, here’s what they came up with (and yes, we know we missed “time” out of the beginning sentence ;) oops)
- Amber Rose and Sam Robinson/Dec 2011
More photos from that day and other band shoots can be found on my tumblr.