“We had to decide whether it was time to call it a day or whether we still had something to say.”
We caught up with Twin Atlantic bassist Ross McNae ahead of the band’s UK tour to learn more about their upcoming album, ‘POWER’, and talk fresh starts, hometown studios and finding inspiration.
Ever since their formation over a decade ago, Scotland’s Twin Atlantic have been quickly rising to the top of their scene, catapulted higher by each new exciting release they’ve put out into the world. With previous albums, ‘GLA’ and ‘Great Divide’, both reaching Top 10 in the album charts, it seemed as though the band had found their winning formula. But feeling stuck in a rhythm and ready to switch up the game-plan, Twin Atlantic set out to create the album they really wanted to make, with no boundaries and no pressure. Digging through their early inspirations and channeling them within their own newly-built studio in Glasgow, the band took a much-needed three year break to re-discover themselves.
Returning with a new focus and feeling more liberated than ever before, 2020 looks to be a momentous year for the Scottish trio, with the band gearing up for the release of their new album, ‘POWER’. Before the album hits the shelves and the band head out on an extensive UK tour, we sat down with bassist Ross McNae to discuss everything from their renewed creative freedom to the live experience and what comes next for Twin Atlantic.
It’s been four years since your latest album, ‘GLA’, and things seemed to have been a little quiet for Twin Atlantic until recently. How have things changed for the band since 2016?
Ross: We got to the point that we started asking ourselves why we were really doing this. So rather than going through the motions of just releasing another record, we thought about what we actually wanted. We had to decide whether it was time to call it a day or whether we still had something to say. We have a new line-up, new management and a new label – it felt like it was time to try something different. We also wanted to try making music ourselves rather than travelling to a studio and letting someone else be in control, so we built our own studio in Glasgow. It was very liberating to have the time to think about what we actually wanted to say, rather than feeling like we had to fill a quota.
Your latest single, ‘Barcelona’, has been out for over a month. Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind that track?
Ross: We didn’t have any ideas for any of the new songs before we went into the studio, we were just experimenting with things and seeing where they took us. ‘Barcelona’ developed from the idea of having a lot of space in a song, which is something we haven’t done in a long time. It harks back to something that we used to do in the beginnings of the band, where we would play around with the juxtaposition of sounds and the emotional response they create. We wanted that song to reflect what we want to do musically rather than sticking to the formula of what our band is supposed to be.
‘Barcelona’ is taken from the band’s new album, ‘POWER’, which will be released on Friday. Where did you find inspiration for the record?
Ross: Because we recorded the album in Glasgow it meant that a lot of the inspiration came from there, our real lives and being at home. We’ve always traveled abroad to record and when you’re not engaged in your actual life there comes a certain element of playing a character. You can get a little bit carried away with emotions and nostalgia that don’t necessarily reflect who you truly are, but there’s no way of escaping your life when you’re living it the whole time you’re not in the studio.
From the singles we’ve heard so far it seems as though the band are heading in a pretty different direction on this album. What sparked that change in sound?
Ross: Our band started when we were all incredibly young and we’ve been busy ever since, so we’ve never really had any time to experiment until now. This is the first gap in time where we’ve actually been free and had a chance to explore what we write in the studio, rather than just carrying on the cycle of churning out records. We love every album that we’ve ever put out, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that it’s always been 100 miles an hour and it was time to slow down. Over such a long period of time your tastes evolve and so should the music you make, and we needed to explore our sonic palette at this point in the band.
It seems like you’re the most free in what you’re doing now than you have been since 2009’s ‘Vivarium’. Does this record feel like a comeback of sorts?
Ross: Definitely. When we released ‘Vivarium’ we were all still learning what our instruments did and finding our feet, and I guess ‘POWER’ is our ten years later version of that where we’re discovering all these other new aspects of music. We had time to do things like mess about with a drum machine for three days because it didn’t matter if nothing came out of it, it was all about the process of finding inspiration. We’re feeling more free musically than we have in so long, and I think that’s evident in the songs we’ve made.
Once ‘POWER’ is released it’s not long until you’ll be heading out on tour across the UK. What can fans expect from these shows?
Ross: We understand that at the moment the music scene is really saturated, and there’s so many people you can go and see. If people choose to come to our shows we don’t want them to feel short changed and we want to give them the best experience that we possibly can. There’s not really a formula to what we’re doing, we just want to do what we’ve always done. Our shows are supposed to be an escape for people and that’s why we love music, it should be a celebration of these new songs and a bit of a party.
Obviously by the time these shows roll around you’ll have a whole album of new material to play. What is it like knowing that you’re finally going to play them to a live audience?
Ross: It’s exciting. We don’t really mind what size the audience is, whether its 10,000 people or 1,000 – we could have fun playing in a room with no one in it but ourselves! These shows mark the end of our little chapter of the last three years, and the whole thing has been positive and allowed us to learn so much about ourselves. I think we’re in a better place than we’ve ever been before as a band and also creatively. We can draw a line under that and start moving forwards on this new journey, which is really liberating.
What song from the new record are you most excited about playing live?
Ross: We haven’t played many shows recently so I’m still really excited about playing the two songs that we’ve put out so far, ‘Novocaine’ and ‘Barcelona’. We also started playing a song from the record called ‘Volcano’ throughout some of our summer shows last year which is so much fun to play. There’s also ‘I Feel It Too’ which is really energetic, and a song called ‘Ultraviolet Truth’ that harks back to the nostalgia of the music that we’ve loved throughout our lives.
How would you describe ‘POWER’ in three words?
Ross: Freeing, endpoint and electronic.
Once the album is out next week and the tour is wrapped up, where do Twin Atlantic go next?
Ross: We took such a long time to get this record out and that’s not something that we want to do again. We’re already thinking about what the next chapter is, and we’re not going to disappear for another three years. We’ve got the bug again and we’re excited.
Twin Atlantic’s new album, ‘POWER’ is released on Friday 24th January, pre-order your copy here. The band also head out on tour across the UK this March and tickets are selling fast, don’t miss your chance to be there! Head here to secure your spot.
Twickets have partnered up with Twin Atlantic as their official ticket resale platform to protect their fans from being ripped off by profiteering resale sites that encourage ticket touting. If you’re looking for tickets to a sold out show, make sure to check the band’s Twickets page, and set up an alert to be notified of any new listings.