“We’re in London aren’t we? Where’s yer f****** trilby hats?” jibes The Twang’s cocky frontman Phil Etheridge over a hail of beered up football chants. Tonight is the Brummie newcomers’ first gig in the capital and judging by the amount of A&Rs and music hacks spilling out of the Camden Barfly, it certainly ain’t gonna be their last.
Chin stroking industry types normally give your average band about five minutes before they descend into disinterested chatter on nights like this. But then this isn’t any other band. With a nod from Noel Gallagher, a ninety-second introduction from Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley and murmurs of “the next Happy Mondays”, The Twang are fast becoming the hottest unsigned act in the country.
“When you’ve got people coming up to yer who have signed bands that are doing well, it’s humbling. It’s a mad compliment innit?”
“If Noel Gallagher’s been onto us that’s fucking wicked man. Fucking hell!” gushes an excited Etheridge in the band’s smoke filled dressing room at Koko a month later. “There’s no point in lying, man. I’m never gonna say Oasis aren’t the reason we formed a band cos they fucking are. They seemed like normal lads fucking having a mad craic writing tunes about fucking normal shit so I thought we might as well. It just so happens that every tune we wrote was fucking ace so we carried on.”
He ain’t joking neither. Smacked with the same cocksure swagger as their Manc forefathers, The Twang have more tunes up their sleeve than the Spaghetti Junction has slip roads. Fist in the air anthems like ‘Wide Awake’ and ‘Either Way’ along with the lad stomping groove of ‘Loosely Dancing’ and the (Mike) Skinner-esque snarl of ‘The Neighbour’ are all big hearted belters bursting with northern soul. It’s songs like these that have had A&Rs across the industry scrapping for their signature.
“When you’ve got people coming up to yer who have signed bands that are doing well, it’s humbling. It’s a mad compliment innit?” admits Etheridge.
“It’s one of them ones man,” shrugs co-vocalist Martin Saunders. “Six months man ago if fucking one of ’em was like, ‘Oi blah blah this one little label wants to fucking know’, we’d have been jumping for joy. So when record companies are coming up to us it’s fucking great.”
Hailing from middle England, The Twang finally settled on their current line-up, which also includes bassist Jon Watkin, guitarist Stuart Hartland and drummer Matty Clinton, just over two years ago when Saunders finally “decided to come and have it” and Hartland joined the band. Skint and frustrated with inner city life, the Quinton five-piece eventually stumbled across a local producer who offered up a recording studio in Wolverhampton. There they laid down a series of early demos, four of which can be heard on their MySpace page, and dreamed of breaking out of the city and mixing it up with the trilby hats in London. “I don’t mind trilby hats to be honest. I’m saving mine for an awards ceremony. You know, when we pick up the best new band gong up,” laughs a cocksure Etheridge as he leans back and takes a drag on his cigarette. “Saying that, the beer prices are absolutely fucking criminal down here but as it happens I don’t buy beer or cigarettes - [points at Clash] you do so get ’em out and we’ll carry on with the interview ha ha.”
If 2006 was the year of the Monkey then 2007 is definitely shaping up to be the year of The Twang. It’s just a case of finding the right label now. “I wanna go to that fucking South By South West,” Etheridge rants at his bandmates. “Whoever signs us best take us fucking there or we’re off.”
Strap yourselves in The Twang are taking over.