More about: The Twilight Sad
"It's always in our heads that nothing lasts forever," admits James Graham, singer in The Twilight Sad with a broad Scottish drawl. This isn't the confession of a defeated artist, which may surprise those familiar with the band's wall of melancholic sound and majestic misery. No, this is a band with much to celebrate.
The band formed in Kilsyth in Scotland a decade ago, during a time when neighbouring Glasgow would become a focal point for a revival in nostalgia due to art-rockers like Franz Ferdinand. However, The Twilight Sad formed their own world and carved a sound so idiosyncratic, so beautiful and so terrifying, that when their debut album, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, dropped in 2007, they were a chilling breath of fresh air - universally adored by critics and forming the foundation of a strong cult following. Since then, they've staunchly existed on their own terms, gaining appreciation among new followers and fans of friends, touring partners and fellow Scots Frightened Rabbit, Chvrches, Mogwai and Idlewild.
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Imagine the rejoice then, when The Twilight Sad announced that in 2014, they'd be re-releasing the LP on vinyl for Record Store, and playing it in full at a string of special shows.
"The whole thing kind of came about around December last year when we were asked to play the album over two nights in Glasgow," remembers James. "It was just kind of suggested to us and we were just like 'ah, why not?' It seemed like a good idea because the band had recently turned 10, so we thought it would make a good Glasgow Christmas celebration. At the time we were thinking about merch and things and we realised that the album hadn't actually been available on vinyl for three or four years.."
Lovers of their flawless debut flocked out on 19 April to try and get their hands on a limited editon copy for Record Store Day. Many were lucky, but most fell victim to scummy, soulless touts.
"I've seen them on eBay for about £120 and it's shit, I think that's rubbish," sighs James. "My heart sank a little bit, knowing that there were only 500 copies and there were people out there that didn't get it. It defeats the whole purpose of the day, and I can understand people getting annoyed with it. The whole Record Store Day ethos is a great thing, and I still only really buy vinyl. It just seems like one of these things like it was a really good idea to start with and it's great for the shops, but I think that every day should be Record Store Day. Maybe it's a case of spreading it out throughout the year."
Either way, it won't stop the band celebrating where they came from, in order to make their next great leap into the future: "We've got a new album coming out later this year so we wanted to look back before we go forward."
So not only is 2014 a great year for Twilight Sad fans' to indulge in their back catalogue, but you're also lucky enough to hear the band make another great stride forwards with their fourth album - due later this year.
"We're just getting mixes back for our new album," says James. "Peter Katis (producer for Interpol, The National, Frightened Rabbit, Jonsi) in America, who mixed our first record, is mixing this record again, so I guess we're coming full circle again.
"I'm really excited about it, it's everything that I wanted to be at this point. You can always tell it's us and there are some things we can't change, even if we wanted to - like my stupid accent, but I can't really do much about that. But we've learned from every record and subconsciously made it into this one. The guitars are back, whereas people said the last album was quite synth-heavy. I think it's quite large-sounding, it's got some of our biggest songs on it whereas the last album was quite insular."
The landmark of reaching their fourth LP is not lost on the band.
"You never know how long this lasts, and we're a band on our fourth record now - which doesn't really happen much these days. There's little to no money in being a band so we've been lucky to scrape by. There was a feeling when we were writing the songs that this could be our last chance, so we took advantage of that and put everything into it just to show how much the band means to us."
Indeed, as you can tell from their gut-wrenchingly epic sound and starkly honest lyrics, The Twilight Sad do give it their all - which makes it all the more rewarding when it pays off and dreams are fulfilled. Their most recent ambition to tick off their bucket list was supporting their heroes Manic Street Preachers in Scotland.
"That meant everything," beams James. "The first album I ever bought was Everything Must Go when I was about 9 or 10."
And we had them pegged as Holy Bible kinda guys.
"I am a Holy Bible kinda guy!" he laughs. "The Holy Bible is probably one of the best albums of all time. I've seen the Manics about 15 times now, and James Dean Bradfield came and watched our sets from the sounddesk when we supported, then told us that him and Nicky were big fans of the band. It was a really big thing for us to be able to do that. You think back to listening to them in school and now they're stood in front of you saying they like your songs. It's quite amazing, and I don't think we'll ever forget that.
"They've been through more than a few ups and downs and they're still going. There's no bullshit with them, just good music."
That work ethic and relentless refusal to be beaten is far from alien to The Twilight Sad. Not only have they been practicing it for over a decade while the mainstream ignores them, but they're inspired by their homecountry heroes who are currently flying the flag without compromise.
"It's a good attitude to have, and Frightened Rabbit are the perfect example of that," says James. "We've been on the road with them and they've worked really, really hard to get to where they are. If you can see that in a band, that they're not taking it for granted, then they respect that. Things don't come easily, well for some they do and that's cool, but it doesn't really seem to happen for Scottish indie bands.
"We look at the Rabbits and even Martin and Iain from Chvrches - they've been in bands, even with us, and they've worked hard throughout their career to get to a point and now they're in a successful band. People might think that happened overnight but they've been working in music for years, it's just the fact tht it's clicked and it's happened for them this time. It's an attitude among a lot people that we associate ourselves with - even Biffy, they're proof that it pays off. I just hope that we don't come along and spoil it."
Even if they aren't around forever, enjoy them here and now. There is no other band around like The Twilight Sad, so treasure them at this amazing cross-road in their career: celebrating their past, enjoying the present and eyeing up the future.
Twilight Sad's upcoming tour dates are:
- April 30 - London, Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
- 1 May - London, Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
- 2 May - Manchester, The Deaf Insitute
- 3 May - Bristol, The Exchange
- 30 May - Barcelona, Primavera Sound Festival
- 13 July - Scotland, T In The Park
- 25 July - London, The Lexington
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More about: The Twilight Sad