You Opened Up The Door: The Return Of Twin Atlantic

You Opened Up The Door: The Return Of Twin Atlantic

Sam McTrusty on the changes the Glasgow band have undergone...

Being in a band for over a decade has got to be tough. Members grow their own families, a sense of home and security vanishes, and formulas start to become boring. Sick of following the ridged guidelines of the rock world, Twin Atlantic aim to turn over a new leaf and do things their own way with their fourth album ‘Power’.

An excited Sam McTrusty tells all over the phone from the band’s rehearsal room-cum-studio in Glasgow. So, what has changed since the release of their last album?

“Genuinely everything” Sam explains with a slight chuckle. Some changes are personal. “I got married, became a Dad. We’ve all got fucking mortgages and people relying on us now”.

But many changes relate to the music. “We’ve always publicly been a four piece and always tried to work that way when we make records but [for] this one, we made it as a three piece”.

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The measured and civil divorce led guitarist Barry McKenna to exit the band’s studio set-up. A difficult decision but one that was in the best interests of everyone. Sam protests that there are no hard feelings towards their former band mate. “Barry still plays with us live so it’s not like a complete divorce or anything like that. We didn’t do it in the old school rock style fashion where there was a massive fight and it was like “fuck you, you’re fucking out of the band” and all this”.

He continues: “There had always been a butting of heads creatively and where that used to breed a really good kind of tension that always made music that sounded really dangerous and could at any time all fall apart, I think because we made three albums that way, it kind of felt like right now, it was beginning to gel a bit more and that’s what inspired the change”.

During their five-year hiatus, gigging was relentless. They kept themselves busy by touring with Catfish and the Bottlemen, and it seemed more of a bonding of friends rather than a matter of business. “Van McCann and I have always got on so well. Whenever we are at the same festivals, we always hang out and talk about music and song writing and go and watch a few bands together”.

He goes on to state their similarities as frontmen. “Him and I come from the same school of thought. When we play a show, you’d think it’s like our fucking lives depend on it and we’re not scared of distorted guitars and we’re also not scared of big pop melodies and just playing a good tune”.

Other than the obviously strong friendship between Van and Sam, the tour led Twin Atlantic to a whole new audience, and maybe even turned some heads. “The shows were sold out before we even really added, so I knew that it was a completely new audience and I liked that challenge. I liked the idea that there was a whole new crowd that don’t like us and by the end, they have to have a little word with themselves and be like 'fuck, that was actually good' and go home and listen to us”.

The DIY approach to recording is the focal point of Power. A true trial and error method was used to create Twin Atlantic’s most daring, ambitious and creative albums to date. After leaving Red Bull’s label citing that it simply wasn’t working out, everything went back to basics and back to the DIY roots in which the band originated from – demos and all. The demos that Sam had produced over the break were impressive and Virgin EMI soon became convinced by the promise of the end product.

The process also uncovered a hidden talent within the band. “It hadn’t even occurred to us that recording and producing was maybe something we were good at. We’d always kind of relied on the help of someone else,” Sam admits. “We ultimately produced and wrote the songs ourselves and that’s the thing we’re the proudest about on this record. The beauty was that we didn’t know what we were doing. I’m not embarrassed to say that.”

“There was sometimes where I was plugging things in and getting no sound and literally scratching my head for like two hours like “what the fuck am I doing wrong?” and eventually I’d press a button and an unexpected sound would come out of the speakers and I was like 'fuck, that’s amazing, press record'”.

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Sam McTrusty has always been the true epitome of a frontman. His dazzling suits and outgoing personality shine through with every performance, no matter what the venue. But he does have a preference. “I’d much rather play massive venues. I think that our music suits that environment better. I know that’s a bit arrogant, but we can’t help ourselves”.

He continues: “It allows [me] to play a bit more of a front man character. It’s so, so, so fun and addictive. The adrenaline rush I get from that makes all of the sitting about and travelling and missing your family, it’s the one thing that really makes it worth it”.

However, just like any other musician, there are some downsides to touring. “The worst part [of touring] is turbulence on a flight. My wife’s in Canada so I fly a lot and I’m fine as long as there’s no turbulence, otherwise I genuinely think that both engines are going to explode and I’m going to die, and I believe it with a real ferocity”.

'POWER' has a driving force that has never seemed as prominent on previous Twin Atlantic releases. Other than the fact that everything for the album was created within one room, sonically, there is no limitation or restriction. A desire to sound a little more like LCD Soundsystem and Depeche Mode mingles with the punchy, tall-as-giants rock that has canvassed them for years with roaring success. The band’s key selling point is to take the album as you will, and there are many meanings which can be adapted to it.

Sam explains: “Making an album on our own, producing it ourselves, we confronted a few demons in the band. We also stepped up to the plate in our personal lives a lot and that was really empowering in terms of a chapter in our lives, so it felt only right to reflect that in the title of the album”.

With the current political turmoil that is swirling around our consciousness, Sam also hints that the album has some political edge, as he tells of the struggles of Brexit from a Scottish perspective. “It’s a little bit more heightened being Scottish because there is a bit of irony... Brexit was voted through just a couple of years after we had an independence referendum where Scotland was criticised for wanting to be separate from any union”.

He continues: “When you really start looking at it, you realise it’s more about individuals seeking an upper hand politically, not actually for the good of the people. It felt important to suggest that in the title and it goes into bigger issues as well, as in everyone’s obsessed with the concept of power and always having to be this perfect, in control being”.

But the fun doesn’t stop here. The band hope to utilise their studio space more and more this year. “I think we’ve kind of liberated ourselves that way that we can make it on our own and do whatever we want. It’s quite cool after like 13 years, we actually have something to show for it with this space and all of this equipment, so I think we’ll just continue to fucking rinse it”.

In some ways, it seems that Twin Atlantic have come full circle. Unlike in the days when producers would keep an eye on the proceedings, now the band have full control, of which they passionately take in their stride. “We were more trying to capture an energy with this record, whereas before, we were definitely trying to create the perfect rock album”.

An energy that stands in plain sight.

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Twin Atlantic's new album 'POWER' is out now.

Words: Hayley Millross

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