“This is an album to try and make rock music relevant” - hmv.com talks to Twin Atlantic
Just over two years after their stomping LP Great Divide Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic return today with a brand new album. GLA, which is named after their hometown of Glasgow, might have been recorded in the sunny climbs of California with producer Jacknife Lee, but it’s a dark, angular record and easily the most challenging thing the band have done to date.
We called up frontman Sam McTrusty to find out all about how the album came together…
How did making this album compare to making Great Divide?
“They couldn’t be more different, it was the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Great Divide was two years’ worth of writing and six months in the studio, this record was two months of writing and six weeks in the studio.”
Did how you write songs change?
"I used to sit and write with an acoustic guitar and then we’d get in a rehearsal room and jam everything out, but this time we set up a home studio and we really embraced technology with the songwriting, it gave us a completely different result.”
Was that change a natural one? Or were you determined to make big changes in how you work?
“A bit of both. We’ve been lucky enough to go into some great studios and really learn a lot about the production of music, so this time we felt a lot more clued up and were able to work much more on our own, that was quite a natural process and why it happened so quickly. Working that way made us much happier, it was much more genuine, working on instinct, being more excited and naive.”
You worked with Jacknife Lee on the album, who did a few tracks on Great Divide, but not the majority, why did you decide to work with him again?
“As soon as we left the studio after he did the singles on Great Divide we were desperate to go back. I was sending him bits of music the whole time we were working, just as a friend, at the same point and that’s how the album started. It was a quite a freeform process, but I did go out to his house to sort the demos out. We had a lot of pop rock demos and a batch of edgier tunes and we explored the options together. We’re a lot more self-aware as a band now, so many bands end up spending their careers making really awful music just because they’re trying to keep their fans happy, we decided to take a risk and do the exact opposite of that. This is an album to try and make rock music relevant.”
You recorded in Los Angeles again, do you really love working out there?
“The weather is awesome. We were there because Jacknife was there, but I like feeling like you’re on a big adventure. It’s great to be near Hollywood and so much creativity, it gives you a purpose. We got out more this time, it was less of a bubble and not disappearing up your own arse. We don’t want to be a super serious rock band and work to all these imaginary rules. This time we lived out there, got a house, we’d go to the beach at the weekend and amazing bars, we’ve been going to LA once or twice a year since we got signed so we knew a few people there. You’ve just got to make sure you don’t get in the LA charade, it can get really weird out there really quickly.”
You ever tempted to move there permanently?
“10 times a day. The weather is so good, some people love the cold and rain, but I don’t, sunshine relaxes me, if I could lift Glasgow and all the people who are important to me to LA I would. No time soon though, there are too many challenges to conquer at home.”
What kind of album would you say this is lyrically?
“An unfiltered version of who I am, this is me as a music lover and guitar player, being totally instinctive, it’s raw and a big evolution from where I started. When I was younger I’d try to impress people, choose quirky words where a simple one would do just as well, being awkward for the sake of it. Working with producers who have worked on huge records I’ve become much more diligent and give it a lot more thought. On our last record I was treating songwriting a bit like making a potion, trying to get all these different ingredients, loads of rules, delving into the history of pop, almost going to university in the way I went about it, so this record is a real reaction to that.”
Which lyricists were influential for you for this album?
“The Kendrick Lamar record To Pimp A Butterfly has been so influential for me. Obviously we’re from very different worlds, he’s from Compton, I’m from Glasgow, but the way he expresses things has had a huge impact on me. Some of the songs are so much more visceral. The main lyricists I go back to are Kurt Cobain, John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen, I still adore them.”
Finally, when did you settle on the title? Why did you decide to honour your hometown?
“We settled on it during recording. It felt like we’d really captured an atmosphere with the music. We wrote the whole thing at home, we wrote almost 50 songs and they all came from the city. Nothing was done in a van or hotel room, that can give songs a real make believe feel, this time we were seeing the city and important people in our lives everyday. I feel like we’ve captured an attitude, this is a modern album from a modern city that’s flourishing. It’s an album that’s real as f**k.”