22 January 2012 (released)
22 January 2012
The Twilight Sad are one of Scotland’s most influential bands, and are due to release their biggest album yet ‘No One Can Ever Know’ on February 6th 2012. Hailing from Kilysth, Scotland, lead singer James Graham laces each track with accented and emotionally-dark vocals: as the band gear up for their full UK tour I caught up with James to discuss albums, the best live venues and untitled tracks.
It’s been 2 years since we last saw The Twilight Sad release a studio album, how will ‘No One Can Ever Know’ differ from ‘Forget The Night Ahead’?
Well, we're two years older and hopefully a bit wiser which is a start and that has probably influenced some different sounds we've used on this new record. We never want to repeat ourselves so "No One Can Ever Know" was never going to sound like "Forget The Night Ahead" just as that album didn't sound like "Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters". Although saying that in my opinion this album still sounds like The Twilight Sad. There's things that we can change about this band, I mean influences come and go with each album. The things that will always remain the same are my voice,the way we write and the reason we write songs in the first place. We don't write music for the sake of having to have an album out, we write because we want to and we have something to write about. I suppose something else that won't change is that we're never really going to write a happy song, I'm too much of a miserable moany bastard to change that. I'd say the main difference on this album would be the instrumentation with Andy changing his guitar style a bit and the added synths, but ultimately as I say every song is recognisably us.
What does this new album represent in The Twilight Sad’s career?
This is our third album now and we've seen a lot of bands come and go over the last five or six years, so I suppose we're just happy to still be here and that's down to hard work and the support of our family/friends and people who have taken an interest in our band. You never know how long all this will last as being a band in this current climate isn't exactly the most financially viable thing. Not that we're in it for the money, and if we were we wouldn't have lasted this long. We just want to get by and work hard to get this band as far as it can go. I think this album is the start of a new and exciting time with the band, its opening the door for more experimentation on future releases. That's if we don't kill each other over the next few years promoting it.
What songs on the new album are you most proud of?
The album is supposed to be listened to as a whole. I kind of look at it as each song is a different chapter in the album's overall theme. That sounds a bit wanky but I can't think of any other way to describe it. We're not a singles band and I don't think we ever will be, that's one of the things I like about us. I'm really proud of the whole record but "Nil" is very special to me for certain reasons that I won't go into. Once the albums out there I probably won't listen to it again, I've done the same with every other album we've released. Maybe when I'm an old man and out of this business I'll sit down and listen to them one afternoon with a nice malt. Maybe when we start touring again my perception of each song will change I'll get different favourites off the new record as playing a song live can change your whole outlook on it.
What will fans of your previous EPs and singles think of the new album? Has it changed and developed on the way we might have previously listened to The Twilight Sad?
Fuck knows to be honest! What I will say is that people who like and support our band are great. So far they've embraced everything we've done and we're so grateful. I think that fans of our band are proper music fans as they've discovered us by looking for music as we havn't been forced upon them. I mean we've not been on the front of magazines, we're not played on mainstream radio and we're not on the telly or anything. I'm not complaining as the growth of this band has been very natural and I think that's the way to make a career in this business.....i hope....fingers crossed. If I was a fan of our band I wouldn't want to hear "Fourteen Summers And Fifteen Springs" or "Remember That Great Day" I'd want to hear us try new things and try to develop our sound and I think that's what we've done. The one thing that's not changed and won't change throughout our albums is that we make sure we have a good song as a basis before we start to develop it and that's what I think keeps people coming back to us.
The Twilight Sad seem to never stop touring, what dates are you most looking forward to this time?
I always look forward to our gigs in Glasgow. This time we're playing at The Grand Ole Oprey which is an old country and western venue. I'm really looking forward to touring America again. This will be the 10th or 11th time we've toured North America but it's our first headline tour for a long time so it will be good to see how things are going over there for us. I used to hate touring but I've caught the touring bug and I now love it and miss it when we're home for too long.
What are your favourite venues to play in?
We're playing the Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York in February. We supported Mogwai when they had a 3 night residency there so we know what its like and we really like it. The Empty Bottle in Chicago is cool as is the 9.30 club in DC. Nice & Sleazys in Glasgow is one of my favourite pub/venues in Glasgow, botanique in Brussels is cool. My favourite venue in the world is The Barrowlands in Glasgow, my dream is for this band to play a sold out headline gig there.
What can fans (or newcomers!) expect to see in these live performances?
New songs, old songs, loud songs, five Scottish guys who like a drink playing music, strobes.
Have you got one support band for the whole tour or will it be a mixture?
We're just in the process of confirming our support act for the UK tour but in America our good friend Micah P Hinson is coming on the road with us and we're really excited about seeing him play every night and who knows we might try and play something together at some point. There will be some local acts before the main supports as well in most towns. We like to make sure we get good support acts to make sure people have paid to come to the gig get their moneys worth.
What bands do you enjoy playing most with, and if you could play with any band, dead or alive, who would it be?
I've really enjoyed the tours we've done with Mogwai/Errors and the FatCat tour of North America with Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks. They are all friends of ours but at the same time it was great to see them play every night. We've supported Mogwai on three separate tours and learned a lot from them, to get to see one of my favourite bands play every night will be something I'll never forget. There's loads of bands I'd like to support but I don't think we ever will. Here's my wish list: The Cure, Portishead, NIN and the first band I ever saw was The Manic Street Preachers so it would be great to go full circle and play with them. 'The Holy Bible' is one of my favourite albums of all time!
The Twilight Sad have been described as “perennially unhappy”, do you feel emotion comes naturally to you whilst song writing?
I never write a song just for the sake of writing because we need to write an album. I'll only write a song if I've got something to write about. All my lyrics are about things that have happened to me, my friends, my family etc. I do what comes naturally and be as honest as I can and I hope that comes across. I've seen people say that I'm over emotion in my songs and if I am then I'm not ashamed of that in the slightest, if people don't like that then it says more about them than me. It's not as if I'm crying all over our songs, I try to be as intelligent and honest as possible when writing and all the songs are about love/loss/being ashamed/lies as well as a number of other things - as people we all go through these emotions.
How much does place, i.e. where you write, record and perform your music, affect the outcome of your style?
I think a lot of what we do is subconsious. We do what comes naturally and what comes out through the music. I mean I think we would sound completely different if we were from Hawaii or something, we would probably sound different if we stayed in a different part of Scotland. I definitely think our music is affected by where we stay but I wouldn't know in what exact way, I suppose the obvious affect is my voice.
Album covers and posters for The Twilight Sad are always very artistic. Do you feel that this is a very important aspect of your image?
We work with a guy called Dave Thomas and he's a bit of a genius in our eyes. Andy works with Dave and they usually figure out what kind of style they want to work with after the music has been finished. I'll send Dave down my lyrics as well so he can relate the artwork to them. We always wanted a striking artwork be it controversial images or the colours used but at the same time it had to relate back to the music and I think Dave's achieved that on every record. We wanted our album artwork to stand out on record store stands next to other releases, be it a reaction of "that's fucking cool" or "that's fucked up" .
Many Twilight Sad tracks are untitled, do you plan to name them or do you feel it adds to the mystery and atmosphere of the band?
Most of the untitled songs have been developed into real songs such as "The Room" "I Was Hoping Winter Wasn't Over" and "The Neighbours Can't Breathe". We see the Untitled's to be more like demos of songs that we're happy to share but could develop in the future.