Twin Atlantic are currently preparing to embark on a string of UK dates and their first stop is Leicester. The Glaswegians are set to bring their brand of alternative rock to the O2 Academy on Saturday night, as part of this year’s Handmade Festival. Earlier this week, I caught up with drummer Craig Kneale, who is itching to get back on the road.
“We’ve been home since the start of the year so we’re just excited to get back playing in front of people again,” Kneale said. “It’s the best part of being in a band, playing music together and being away from doing that for a while has made us realise just how much we miss it. It’ll be the last headline run on this album too so we’ll make the most of it.”
Kneale and his bandmates released their fourth studio album, ‘GLA’ in September of last year. When promoting the record, they have made a conscious decision to draw more attention to the music and scale down the theatrical element of previous live shows.
“We tried to tone back the production side of the live show on this album, so I guess the main challenge was getting comfortable with not having video walls and confetti and all that,” he explained. “I mean, we did have lasers on the last tour so it was still quite visually loud, but we stripped it back quite a lot to mainly focus on the songs and our own stage presence. It was definitely scarier but more exciting for it and it felt like the crowd felt that excitement too.”
The previous, over-the-top tours that Kneale speaks of have afforded the band a chance to travel – an opportunity that they sincerely treasure. Since their formation in 2000, Twin Atlantic have played hundreds of live shows all over the globe and have the madcap, albeit tame tales to show for it.
“On our first trip to America with the band we went to Santa Monica Pier to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in our lives,” Kneale remembers. “As we were walking along, this team of presumably Jewish men on Segways came up beside us and asked if I was Jewish. I said no and they just said ‘good day to you’ and sped off into the distance. I often wonder what would have happened if I had said yes? Perhaps I’d now be the leader of a Segway gang in California. I think my life in the band is ultimately more fulfilling – but I would like a Segway.”
As well as purchasing niche two-wheeled vehicles, the band have been keeping themselves busy during their time away from touring. The arrival of new material is by no means imminent but it’s happening.
“We’re just finding our feet with where we want to go on the next album. Having this time off at the start of the year has been good for that, the stuff i’ve heard Sam + Ross working on sounds dead exciting. The last album was written and recorded really quickly and kept us interested because of that – so it would be fun to do it that way again. I’m sure it’ll be out sometime between now and 2030.”
Handmade Festival is now in it’s fifth year of existence and continues to grow as an independent music and arts festival. Kneale believes that events such as this weekend’s help cultivate local music scenes and hold as much importance as ever.
“We’ve actually focused our festival season this year on doing mainly the independent circuit as we have so much fun playing them and they’ve stayed in our minds as some of our most memorable shows,” Kneale stated.
“It feels like the festival scene circuit is just getting stronger and stronger – the big festivals are all still there, but there’s still lots of space for these boutique festivals to start and grow. There’s always going to be passion for live music, so if you can curate a line-up of great and interesting bands then everyone wins. The bands, the promotors and the crowds.”
Luckily for him, there will be no shortage of interesting acts at the festival and Kneale will do his best to catch several bands while in town. Much to his dismay however, he won’t be able to stick around for fellow Scotsmen Frightened Rabbit, who are billed to headline Sunday night at the O2.
“We’re big fans but we won’t get to see them at Handmade unfortunately, as we’re playing another festival the night they’re headlining”, he said regretfully. “Our studio in Glasgow is directly across from theirs though, so we do get to hear them regularly through closed doors. It is dead cool to see the two headliners of a festival outside of Scotland are Scottish bands though!
“We had Pulled Apart by Horses out on our last tour and we love them, so we’ll definitely be watching them on the Saturday. Also, I really like Kagoule, so I’m going to try and catch a bit of their set.”
Saturday’s visit, although the beginning of many dates, isn’t just any show for the band. During one of their first big UK tours as a support act, they experienced a special night at the same venue they’ll be playing this weekend, alongside Biffy Clyro. There will always be a special place in the collective hearts of Twin Atlantic for the city.
“The first time we were here was supporting Biffy way back in 2008. It was our first big support tour so we always remember Leicester for that. It was the gig we met our first booking agent so it was a really significant show.
“The next time we came back was playing The Charlotte, which I just remember being mainly brown in colour. I hear the venue is gone now, which is sad. Our sound guy at the time was suffering from a very bad hangover that day, and I remember we couldn’t find him for hours. Eventually we found him asleep under a table upstairs in the venue. I don’t know if either of those things inform my perception of Leicester but they have both stayed in my memory, so that’s something.”
Twin Atlantic headline Handmade Festival on Saturday 29th April