Interview with James Graham, Andy MacFarlane & Mark Devine – ‘The Twilight Sad’

1. With this year’s release of ‘No One Can Ever Know’ taking a more synth-orientated direction, do you feel this has broadened your audience?

 Ehh I’m not sure. It wasn’t something that was on our minds when writing or recording the album but If it has then that’s a good thing. Even the the record is more synth orientated it’s still obviously a Twilight Sad record and that means its pretty dark so we won’t be gaining any happy hardcore fans any time soon. We’re a band that wants to play in front of as many people as possible and we always hope that our audience grows naturally and new people find out about our band either through our new or old music. We just hope that when someone discovers our band through they like all our material as we’re very proud of all of our releases.

 2. What has been the highlight of 2012 for you so far?

 There’s been a few gigs that have really stood out this year. We played OFF festival in Poland a couple of weeks ago and that was in our top 5 gigs we’ve ever played. We’d never been to Poland before so we didn’t know what to expect. When we went onstage the tent was full and there was about 2000 people watching us and they were an amazing crowd. I’d also say that gigs in Seattle,Prague,Zurich and our last gig in London was great. It’s been a tough year though. We haven’t played as many festivals as I’d have liked to have played because we’ve been told we’re not a festival band.  ”no one can ever know” was received very well which was a nice and we’re lining up lots of tour dates for the 2nd half of the year, so onwards and upwards. We’ve been writing album number four for a while as well, so hopefully we can record/release that next year.  We’re playing the Barrowlands on the 15th of December, I’ve wanted to headline a gig there ever since I was old enough to appreciate good music. I’m hoping that will be a career highlight.  

 3. Of all the countries and venues you’ve played, which are your favourite and why?

 I love touring America. We’re very lucky to be able to do that as a lot of bands our size don’t get that opportunity, so we make the most of it each time we go there. I love Eastern Europe, the people are lovely and every gig we’ve  played there has been great. Playing in Scotland is more nerve racking because there’s always people we know at the gigs but there’s nothing quite like a home crowd. We’ve supported Mogwai on 3 separate tours and I had an amazing time on those tours because the shows were great & they are our friends so it was fun hanging out with them every day. Arab Strap recently got back together for a one off gig and we got to support them. It was an acoustic gig and the crowd were great plus Arab Strap are one of my favourite bands and it was really cool that Aidan & Malcolm asked us to play.

4. Have you any plans for a fourth album? Is the potent use of synth something you’d carry over, or have you another surprise direction in store?

We’re well into writing and we’ve started to demo some songs. Don’t want to give too much away as a lot of things could change but I’m really excited about the new songs we’ve written. We just want to evolve again and not make the same album twice. I’m sure there will be some synths in there and I’ll be moaning as usual.

5. What bands would make your dream festival line-up?

Arab Stap
The Stooges
David Bowie
PJ Harvey
The Manic Street Preachers playing The Holy Bible
Boards of Canada
The Pixies

I think I’ll stop there

6. I read that Andy recently started using Dwarfcraft pedals, was this a result of the new sound? And for the gear-geeks out there, what is Andy’s current rig?

I wouldn’t say it was the result of the new sound, but he does make some great pedals. I’ve actually got a really simple setup,
a T-Rex overdrive, a Rat, a Space Echo and a delay, and obviously play a Jaguar through a 1959slp head, which I got 
modified to be able to drive the valves more.  

7. In a live situation, does playing a mixture of old and new songs keep you on your toes, given the significant contrast in sound and instrumentation? 

Playing a mixture of old & new songs works really well with us I think. The old songs compliment the new and new compliment the old. I don’t think we’ve ever played better since incorporating the new songs into the set, it’s breathed fresh life into the whole set and there’s a lot more dynamics within the set as well.

8. For Mark, how was the transition from kit to programmed drums?

I think it was a pretty logical step given how the songs were coming together.  The basic approach to building the drum parts wasn’t drastically different to normal.  The ideas were explored and developed in the usual way.  By using a few different drum machines and creating loops and samples it just allowed us to make use of more sounds and textures depending on whatever suited the songs and this gave us a bit more scope with the overall sound and feel of where the album was headed.  I reckon there’s a good balance of live drums and electronic elements on there so that it doesn’t seem like an unnatural departure from my point of view.

9. You call yourselves a ‘Scottishband who enjoy drinking & making miserable music’. Is this an intentional theme, or can we expect a chirpy jingle on a possible forthcoming release?

Unfortunately I’m still a miserable bastard & I still love a drink so no chirpy jingles I’m afraid.

10. And finally, how does Andy maintain such a godly moustache? I’ve heard it’s the root of his musical talent, is this true?
I’m afraid that’s a vicious rumour, it’s probably the vodka that keeps it maintained though.


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