Having released two huge albums in a row and stormed Glasgow’s Hydro arena on their ‘Great Divide’ tour, the stage was set for Twin Atlantic to strengthen their grip on mainstream playlists. They’re not a band to just do what’s expected of them, however – so instead, they hunkered down in a small studio in LA and spat out ‘GLA’, a gnarly, groovy beast that contained some of their dirtiest riffs yet.
Looking back on ‘GLA’, released in 2016, singer Sam McTrusty insists that making the record was crucial for his self-confidence. “I should listen to my own opinion more,” he explains. “Not in an arrogant sense, but sometimes we’ve got artistic ideas that have been ironed out of us over the years. But doing this record and having something like that out when we could have just done the big pop thing that we were teed up to do, the big obvious record, doing what we did and listening to ourselves, we enjoyed it more. We felt a bit more self-worth I guess, it was a self-healing experience.”
While the album polarised some fans hoping for ‘2 Free, 2 Furious’, Twin Atlantic is a band that’s all about moving forward, and Sam claims they have no regrets about the direction they went on ‘GLA’. “I think we’re pretty good at closing chapters and moving on; I’m too busy thinking of new things, making new music or getting better at being a musician, playing guitar and singing than wasting time on things that we fucked up.”
And making new music is exactly what they’ve been doing. Since touring wrapped last summer, they’ve been at home in Glasgow setting up their own studio and then “living in it pretty much, making new music, recording… experimenting.”
Asked if the new material resembles the gritty rock of ‘GLA’ or the widescreen gloss of ‘Great Divide’, Sam is keen to draw a line under their older material. “We’ve probably gone somewhere different, but, again, it’s funny – whenever we make a record it’s never intended to be different or to react to anything other than what we feel like doing on the day.”
Indeed, the band have fairly simply criteria when it comes writing new songs. “We’re pretty impulsive, so if it is different, it’s not because there’s too much thinking going on, it’s just ‘cause we’re trying to make music that we like.”
With regards to what shape the final record will take, Twin are less certain. “We just go into the studio and start messing around with something new that we’ve bought or someone’s told us about… I’ve gone so deep with music production and recording. We just start messing with something, engineering geeky stuff and we end up with a song a few days later.
“It’s cool ‘cause we’ve never made a record this way before. We’ve always tried to write this hit song or something, I guess ‘cause at the time that’s what we wanted to do, but we’re more just going in with if something sounds cool we just follow it, and a song appears. We got some synths to mess around with, and even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can just hold a button down, twist a knob and make a cool sound.”
Although they’ve been writing and recording for a few months now, Sam warns not to expect to hear the fruits of their labours too soon. “It’s funny; it’s like the more records you make, I’ve found, the easier it is to make more and more music. For the last record, we wrote 30 songs, so I never like to call it. We’ve definitely got like an album’s worth of material at the moment and then some. But you never know what’s around the corner, so I like to just keep going until we run out of time.”
‘GLA’, while recorded in LA, was infused with the spirit of the boys’ hometown. The themes of the new record, however, are yet to fully reveal themselves to Sam as he continues to explore new sounds in the studio. “I’m not too sure yet; I like to figure that out later. Like when our record’s finished then fans try to read into things, that’s when I start to realise what the answer is to that as well. I like to follow the music rather than going in with any sort of idea.”
One thing that Twin Atlantic do have on the horizon and pencilled into their diaries is a live return at Slam Dunk in May. After a few months offstage, they’re ready to get back o
ut there again and do their thing in front of a festival crowd. “I feel like we turned into being a solid festival band that kind of turn things up a notch for people there, even if you don’t know our music or don’t know what to expect, we like to make a festival show more of a party atmosphere. A really fucking good time. We’re not one of the heavier bands, but in terms of rocking, like an actual full-on swinging rocking thing, we’re pretty up for that at festivals.”
Early in their career the band were wary of festival sets, but have grown into them as they’ve cast off the shackles. “We used to be a kind of uptight band and be control freaks about our gear and precious about ‘How’s it going to fucking sound?’, and we didn’t enjoy festivals for a long time ‘cause we were trying so hard to be a good band. And that’s like the number one thing you can’t do, ‘cause you just can’t predict anything at a festival. Since we’ve loosened up, we now want to play them all, all the time.”
Taken from the April issue of Upset – order a copy or subscribe below. Slam Dunk takes place from 26th-28th May, in Leeds, Hatfield and Birmingham.