2014 has been a great year for Glaswegian rockers Twin Atlantic and with a nationwide tour kicking off this week, have the Scots crossed the great divide…
RUSHONROCK’s Andy Spoors caught up with lead guitarist Barry McKenna to find out as the band prepared to play Newcastle for the second time this year.
RUSHONROCK: It’s been a huge year for you so far but what has been the highlight?
BARRY MCKENNA: We have been busy, but the highlight for me was releasing Great Divide. We really took time to write a record that would stand the test of time and I think we managed to achieve that. Hearing the reaction from the fans stands out too. This was the first time we played Glastonbury Festival which was really special. We had the second to last slot on the John Peel stage, the tent was absolutely packed out and you could feel the crowd’s energy. It was an amazing moment. I know people say it all the time, but it really is a legendary place and it was an honour to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest bands in history in such an iconic place.
RUSHONROCK: Hold On, the newest single from the album was released earlier in October. What has been the reaction from fans so far?
BM: Until this point, we had only played the track live a few times. But the online buzz has been great, but it’s completely different to have it out there and with a music video too.
RUSHONROCK: Speaking of which, is there any particular or personal message behind the video?
BM: We worked with UK video director Jamie Thraves to shoot the video and we had worked with him before on the video for Brothers & Sisters. He has a way of making it a fun experience, rather than it feeling like standing around in a room all day and miming to your own song, so we wanted to work with him again. In terms of a meaning, no not really a personal one for any of us. But the thing about music is 100 people could listen to the lyrics in a song and could come up with 100 different meanings. This video is Jamie’s vision of the song.
RUSHONROCK: The last time you played Newcastle was supporting Kings Of Leon at St. James’ Park. How did it feel walking out to thousands in the stadium?
BM: St James’ Park was bonkers. It’s so imposing to play in that huge structure. It was the first football stadium we played and as a huge football fans it was great to have that opportunity. Seeing photos of players, seeing the trophies and walking down the players tunnel was an honour. Supporting Kings of Leon was mad. When you play gigs with huge bands, you learn a lot, even just by being in their presence or seeing how they do things. How they warm up, how they are back stage, just before going on stage. It was a mad experience.
RUSHONROCK: Which football team do you support then?
BM: Well I was a Celtic fan originally but have a soft spot for Arsenal. Most people in Scotland will have a second team in the Premiership. I just picked Arsenal because I love the way they play football. I guess that might not make me popular when we play Newcastle though…
RUSHONROCK: Which tracks do you particularly like playing to live audiences?
BM: Every time we played Heart And Soul over the summer, it superseded what we could have hoped for. There’s a great energy each time we played it at festivals or shows, the reaction completely blew us away. There’s one track we only played for the first time last week called Be A Kid, that I can’t wait to play more and see how the reaction goes.
RUSHONROCK: Are you looking forward to playing Newcastle again?
BM: Definitely, yeah, the people of Newcastle are so welcoming. There’s a lot of similarities between the dialects and there’s definitely parallels between northern cities like Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester and Glasgow. It sort of feels like home when we play these places and we can’t wait to come back.
RUSHONROCK: Who do you consider your musical influences?
BM: I’d say we have roots in punk-rock and everything it stands for. We started by playing to rooms with nobody in to get to where we are today. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and even The Beatles played a 100 shows before getting their break. And we try and have that same effort and are prepared to work just as hard. All four of us listen to such different music all the time, it’s an eclectic mix of tastes but it works.
RUSHONROCK: How will you use your time off when you’re on the road?
BM: It’s quite a manic tour but when we get the chance it’s just the usual kind of things. Bars on nights off, or we are all big fans of movies or just playing FIFA. More importantly we hang out as mates, because at the end of the day that’s exactly what we are. Four mates having a good time on tour. It’s so manic and we’re not big enough to be able to demand days off to go play golf or something. So it’s about chilling out when we get the chance.
RUSHONROCK: What can fans expect from the tour?
BM: Each tour we try and step up the production levels and our performance too. This isn’t going to be any exception. We all know and understand when fan buy tickets for a gig it costs money and in a way they are investing in you as a band. We want to give our fans what they deserve. What can they expect? Four guys with instruments playing their new record. There’s just something so cathartic about being up on stage. And if you’ve never been to one of our shows before, they’re sweaty, lively and loud.
RUSHONROCK: After the year you’ve had, what else would you like to do before 2015?
BM: Our schedule is rammed now for quite a while. Right now we are looking forward to playing Great Divide live. I find the best thing about music is sharing it. It really means something to us to feel like a connection has been made with our fans. More than anything we just want to play as much as possible before the calendar flicks over to 2015.