(This interview is unedited because grammar only adds character, for realsies!)
1. Tell us who you are and your role in the band?
Hi my name is James Alexander Graham and my favourite colour is red and i like horse riding! i write the lyrics and try my best to sing.
2. The Twilight Sad, where did it all begin for you guys?
i met andy(guitar,piano,accordion,noise) at school and mark(drummer) lives at the bottom of his street. we formed some shite covers bands when we were in school with some friends. we left school and got into proper music and one day andy met our bass player orzel at a bus stop and asked him to join the band. we played 2 gigs in two years and made a demo. we sent it to fatcat records… they liked it and came to see us on our third gig and signed us.
3. I find it sometimes difficult trying to classify your sound to friends - I hear shoegaze at times, because I find that is a genre that melts together beauty and noise with more precision than gets credit. How would you describe the sound your band tries to achieve?
i also find it hard to describe our sound, some people would describe it as shite i suppose. we like to think that when you strip the songs back they are basically folk songs, as they are about where we stay and people we know and things that have happened to us. then we just layer them up with noise and as many instruments and sounds to make them larger and more of a soundscape affair. so i would say the next time a friend asks you could say folk/noise/experimental/doom rock/alternative shite?
4. I read that your upcoming album will differ a fair amount from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, did something make you feel a need to move away from it?
its hard to say at the moment because we are still mixing the record. i dont think its going to be a massive change in direction, it just feels like we have moved on and the song writing has improved. the songs on the first album were the first we had ever properly written and that was two to three years ago. we have grown up and things have changed in our lives and we have changed as people, so the music will be affected by this. we still dont write conventional verse/chorus songs and you will still be able to tell its us. this album will be a lot heavier/noiser than the last but also more melodic. the lyrics will be dark but mabye not as obvious as the first in some cases. the songs are stories and reveal themselves as they go on!
5. I find your music to be perfectly fitting winter music, talk a little about what the atmosphere is like surrounding your band (the studio, the stage, your hometown).
well we live in the countryside and not in glasgow as many people seem to think. i live in a small town called banton with 5 streets and its surrounded by farms and lochs. the rest of the band stay about 3 miles away from me in a place called kilsyth which is quite similar and our bass player stays in a place called cumbernauld which was voted the worst town in britian for two years running at one point.. the reason our music fits with winter is probably because it feels like winter nearly all the year round here. its either raining,snowing,really windy or dull most of the time. i dont like hot weather either so that might be in my subconscious when i write. we write at home and rehearse in a local pig farm where the farmers wife makes us hot scottish broth(soup) at lunch time. we rehearse in a nice log fired room away from the pigs so it dosent smell thank fuck!
6. Do you guys have any sort of habitual process with making a song?
usually andy writes some music and gives it too me and i write my parts. he arranges it then we got to the farm with the rest of the band to work on it and develop the ideas. andy then makes a rough demo and experiments with different sounds and instruments. then when we go into record it properly we know the song inside out and can experiment on it even more.
7. You guys have shared the stage with some well known bands (Smashing Pumpkins, Snow Patrol, etc), what's one of the more stand-out, exciting shows?
the smashing pumpkins were arseholes as they made us stand outside the venue until 30mins before the doors opened while they soundchecked. think they were scared that we would steal thier ideas, which we wouldnt cause they arnt even the smashing pumpkins anymore and that last record was rubbish. we loved touring with beirut and mogwai. mogwai are a band that we all really respect and they treated us brilliantly and we are all good friends now. we also enjoyed the company of battles and idlewild. the snow patrol gig was a bit wierd because it was in the 02 arena, although we know gary from the band and he is a big fan of the band. i think it was about half full when we played and it was a great experience. to be honest to play venues like that is something that i would never hope for our band. i didnt enjoy how it felt like a big buisness affair and not a gig, i would die a happy man if we got to play places like the barrowlands in glasgow for the rest of our lives.
8. Is there a typical Twilight Sad fan? Do you see what you'd expect when you look into the crowd?
our friend gareth once said to us "you defintly have the arab strap crowd" at a gig in edinburgh as they watched the support band who were a little more upbeat than us and the crowd gave them little or no reaction. i would say its usually 20-50 year old males who take thier unwilling girlfrends to the gig and stand and nod their heads. i love the fact that we dont have arsholes as fans! normal people who enjoy good music and not people who love one band one moment and then another five minutes later. i think what i am saying is that they are very loyal!
9. Are there any bands/artists you dream to work with some day?
No! happy being in the twilight sad writing and playing music with my friends!
10. Are there any influences in your music you've taken from where you've been in the world?
No! get to see the inside of gruppy venues and the inside of tour vans. we write when we are at home and nowhere else. i think more than anything we have learned we cant write on the road more than anything.
11. There's a lot of (literally) visually masked imagery with your band, could you explain the significance?
we like to leave our imagery to the listeners own imagination and let them take what they want from the artwork and music and lyrics.
12. Are there any guilty pleasures of the band? Any Lady Gaga records sitting around?
ohh loads! lady ga ga,take that,girls aloud,britney bitch and abba! i like a bit of elton john too! there is nothing better than a good pop song! 80's hair metal. just because we write dark depressing songs dosent mean we dont like shite songs now and again. my girlfriend and i listened to celine dion "think twice" the other day, its probably the most epic song i have ever heard!
13. Are there any records that have served as a big influence for the band over the years?
not really. there are albums we love, but we never sit down and go this album should influence this song and so on. nothing is completely original these days but we try not to think of other music/bands when we write and think about what the song needs as originally as possible.
14. After a tour, what makes you happy to go back home?
my own bed, rubbish tv, great films and rubbish films, home cooking, friends and family! my cat and the swann inn(my local pub)!
15. What keeps you all busy when you're not making music?
all of the above in that last question!
16. How is the new album coming, and when can we expect its release?
its coming along great! we have finished tracking all the songs and are in the mixing process just now. currently coming up with album/song titles and artwork just now. sorting out how we are approaching the release touring/singles/release date ect. we will release a single in the first half of the year and the album and another single in the second then an ep late this year into next.
A big thanks to James for the great answers, and we can't wait for what the band has in store for us in the future!