Interview: The Twilight Sad

The Twilight Sad are embarking on a Greece tour next week. Andy and James were kind enough to share some thoughts with us.

"No One Can Ever Know" was a departure from your former albums, towards the sound of Joy Division. Why is the sound of Martin Hammett so important to so many bands for so many years? 
Andy: The records Martin Hannett worked on have such a unique sound, that they are still as relevant and fresh today as they were when they were released. Being able to make something that long ago, that still doesn't sound dated, is quite amazing.

Obviously, Andrew Weatherall is a book of musical knowledge. But, thinking about it a year after the release of the album, what was his main contribution to the album?
Andy: He gave us a lot of encouragement in the studio. Obviously we were developing our sound and trying to push ourselves into unfamiliar territories, so it was helpful to have someone like Andrew around to bounce ideas off and reassure us

Why did you feel the need to release a remix version and a demo version of the album? 
Andy: The majority of our songs are written in a stripped down arrangement so it kind of made sense to put them out as the songs translate well in that form. Similarly with the remix album, we felt that this style would work being remixed and it was interesting to hear other people's take on our music.  
The artwork of your albums is always great. I believe that the cover-art of "Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters" is one of the best ever. It sets the mood for what is inside the sleeve. And it blends so greatly with the music, afterwards. Same goes for the current album. How much attention do you give to the artwork of your releases?
James: The artwork for our releases is very important to us. We want we it to stand out from the crowd and as you say set mood for what's inside the sleeve. We have always worked with our friend Dave Thomas or DLT as he's credited on our album notes. Andy and Dave discuss what kind of style they want to go for with any new album or release we have and then I send Dave the lyrics and he gets to work. Dave gets what we're trying to do and it's very important to us that everything is connected with each album from the music to the lyrics to the imagery. 
The Twilight Sad's story has been sort of magical. You first toured the US and then people found out about you in your own country! And your three albums have been a surprise every time. What is the one thing that these last 5-6 years have taught you, as a band member, as a person, as a musician? 
James: The one thing I've learned is too stay true to yourself and don't listen to anyone outside of the band when it comes to writing and developing your music. If you listened or read to all the things said about your band be it good or bad then you'd go crazy and you wouldn't get anything done. It's important to stick to the vision you had of the band you had when the band first begin but evolve naturally at the same time. Don't get me wrong we've been given a lot of good advice from our peers/people we work with about how to do things out with the  music and you have to take that onboard but we've stuck to what we believe our band should be and it's got us this far and we've produced 3 albums we're all very proud of.

Have you started working on the next album? And if so, will it sound totally different or will you continue in this new road you've taken with the last album?
James: We’re in the middle of writing a new record  just now. I really hope we can have something new out in 2013. "No one can ever know" has opened the door to so many ideas and things we can do musically. We want to evolve again and try new things.  I think it's going to be a big sounding record. There will be elements from our last album that we'll take forward into our new one but open them up (if that makes any sense). Our 4th album will be very important in deciding the future of this band. You never know how long things are going to last, so we're once again putting everything into a record. we're going to enjoy making another record as we're now 3 albums into our career and at this point your next record could be your last. 

"I love your music but I don't really understand the lyrics". I guess you get that a lot! Does it bother you, as a lyricist?
James: There's nothing really I can do about that to be honest, I'm Scottish and I sing in my accent. I write about where I'm from, things that happen to me and my friends/family and our songs are very honest so to sing them in any other way wouldn't make sense. I'll probably write them all out one day but I suppose people that don't understand what I'm saying in our songs connect with us because we convey the emotions through the music and the melody.

Stuart Warwick (aka Jacobs Stories) stars in the "Another Bed" video and he is pretty good/disturbing at it. How did this happen?  
James: Not much to tell to be honest. Fatcat approached the Director Craig Murray because we liked his previous work then Craig did a treatment and we liked it so he made the video and Craig must be friends with Stuart. I really like it, I think he's done a really good job and people seemed to be freaked out by the video which means it's a winner in our book.

He has a new album out these days, called "The Butcher's Voice". Have you listened to it yet?
James: To be honest I haven't had the chance to check it out yet as last year was pretty hectic for us and I didn't really get the chance to get/listen to a lot of the albums I wanted to. I also pay  for all the music i acquire , i don't illegally download and as I'm a poor musician i couldn't afford a lot of the LP's I wanted last year.

FatCat has obviously been a big part of your carreer. How big a part have they been in forming your music? If I'm not mistaken, they suggested you work with Peter Katis. Have you ever though that, were it not for them, your music might have sounded a lot different today?  
James: No our music would always have sounded this way. Fatcat don't have anything to do with our creative process as in the sound of our band. They might suggested people that we could work with but ultimately its down to us who we work with and how we sound. The are very hands off when it comes to how we sound, I mean they signed the band and respect what we're doing. They will comment on new songs and will suggest things to us which is great but what you see and hear with our band is down to us.

You have toured extensively in the US and in Europe but you've never performed in Greece. How did you manage to do that? What do you expect from your first visit here? 
James: We've been very lucky over the years to have visited so many amazing countries, we've played in places that I never thought our music would reach. We don't organise our tours, our agent asks promoters in different countries or people get in contact with us to play shows. If you book us then we will come and play. As soon as we heard people were interested in bringing us over to play in Greece we did everything we could to make it happen. I really don't know what to expect from our visit but we're excited to see your country and play the gigs.
Name 3 songs that we'll surely hear at your Athens show.
Cold Days from the Birdhouse
I became a prostitute 
As we've just left 2012 behind us, name some of the bands or albums that you listened to most in the last year.
Liars - Wixiw
RM Hubbert - 13 lost and found
Errors - Have some faith in Magic
The Walkmen - heaven
Bat for Lashes - The haunted man
Beach House - Bloom
Flying Lotus - until the quiet comes
Twin Shadow - Confess

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