Exclusive Interview: The Twilight Sad
Posted by Craig Williams
At the time of writing, The Twilight Sad are four dates into a slot supporting Editors on their European tour, and basking in the fresh critical acclaim coming their way in light of the release of Òran Mór Session – a compilation of stripped back renditions of songs that mostly made up last year’s Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave.
James Graham emits a relative calm amongst the storm, as the frontman sat down for a chat with Craig Williams within the not so glamorous surroundings of Glasgow’s Laureston Bar, to talk about New York posters, Glasgow crowds, and social networking.
As the pints arrived, James gave us the lowdown on the Editors tour and winning over new fans. “It’s going really good so far,” he reports. “We are going to try and win new fans and make an impression on people as opposed to playing to people who know who we are.
“There’s a confidence in showing these people what it means to you but at the same time there is the scary element of thinking, ‘This crowd could hate us’,” he considers. “As we have been playing, people have been cheering louder, so I guess it feels like we are winning them over with every song.”
The impending gig that night, however, up the road at Glasgow’s O2 Academy, may have required a different mind-set. “I think because our other Glasgow gig is sold out, which is mental, some people are coming to see us here just to see us,” he muses. “Glasgow is different in that at the gigs you see the same faces you’ve seen since day one and the support is always amazing. I’m basically a big back of fucking nerves.”
Not that he was showing any signs of it. The excitement was evident. The recent filtration of the mammoth 25 date support slot for The Cure in America – with a three night stint at both the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden – still had the band swimming in awe and anticipation, an opportunity James described as ‘mad’, coming off the back of frontman Robert Smith’s cover of There’s A Girl in the Corner.
“I must have listened to his version around 500-1000 times,” he admits, “and I remember when we heard it for the first time in a van in San Francisco.
“We just sat there in silence and said, ‘What the fuck just happened there?’,” he recalls. “I had to stop listening to it because I was getting obsessed by it.
“As for the tour, I saw a poster in New York someone tweeted us that had our name on it,” he discloses. “I don’t think doing Madison Square Garden will sink in until we stand on the stage and start sound-checking.”
The offer to play alongside a band they consider as being one of their favourites says a lot, to James, about the kind of band The Twilight Sad, as they see themselves, are. “We seem to be more of a band’s band where people in other bands like us.
“As far as the other shite is concerned, we are not on their radar completely and I’m quite happy for it to stay that way,” he asserts. “It shows me that we are doing things in the right way as bands should do and not just be there on hype.”
To him, the success hasn’t allowed them to deviate from the ideas and philosophy from which they began writing and recording songs. “I hope we can become a band that can go and play places and have a room full of people who want to see our music,” he says. “At the same time, we won’t change even if people’s perception of us change,” he stresses, “I don’t care about anything else apart from writing music and playing gigs.
“It’s the reason why we started the band in the first place, to make music that we thought kind of mattered, and that’s why we do it.”
Through the European jaunt with Editors, alongside a handful of concerts on the continent, the Barrowlands end-of-year gig looms as large and bright as the venue’s famous exterior. “It feels like we have joined a club we have always wanted to be a part of, like a badge of honour or seal of approval from where we live,” says James. “The gig feels like it will be the end of a chapter for us, so we can give the record (2014’s Nobody Wants To Be Here…) the send-off it deserves. We’ve got to make sure that it is the best gig we have ever played.”
With that in mind, James feels that the city itself has had, and continues to have, a definite influence on the band. “We say we are from Glasgow and we are proud of that. That’s where our favourite music came from,” he says. “Plus the fact that all those folk we listened to have taken us under their wing. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as some of our favourite bands is just as big an honour as anything.
“We have always been a band that shies away from any kind of scene or group, but I’m very happy to be part of the ‘Glasgow Gang’ along with them,” he affirms. “I’d be quite happy to be the tea boy for that group.”
Another interesting point to note is The Twilight Sad’s use of social networks to further spread the word and maintain that very ‘real contact with fans and doubters alike, a role that James has taken on personally. “The first thing I do before I go to bed or when I get up is see what people have been writing or tweeting about us and I do try my best to respond to it,” he explains. “If someone shows an appreciation for us I like to respond and say thank you.
“On the same note, if someone is being a fanny I will tell them they are a fanny, you have to take it both ways,” he says.
As for any further musical developments to look forward to come 2016, fans will be happy to know that they seem intent to keep the Sad momentum going. “Andy and I started writing some stuff over the summer,” he reveals. “There’s a few concrete tunes in there, in as much as I can see the album opener and another two at least. All going to plan, we will have the album recorded before we go away with The Cure.”
With so much on their plate for 2016, and with the enthusiasm for making records and playing live shows as strong as ever, it sure seems like it is gearing up to be the year of the Sad. If their blistering performance at the O2 Academy was anything to go by, it seemed that they were in full Barrowlands mode a full two months early.