The Twilight Sad have had their most successful year of their career after releasing their masterpiece 'Nobody Wants to Be Here, and Nobody Wants to Leave', one of the best albums released last year. I caught up with frontman James Graham for a chat before they played their final show of a gruelling 57 gig tour in Voodoo, Belfast.
Xs Noize: The band has had a hectic few months. How have things been going?
JG: It's been great. Busy is definitely a word I would use. I counted the dates up, its been ten weeks, 27 countries, two continents and 57 gigs we will have done, and we have had one day off. It's been busy, but it's been great and probably the best tour we have ever done. Many of the gigs have sold out, and more people have come to see us. More people know about the band things seem to be going pretty well. It's been a good ten weeks, but it's been fucking busy.
Xs Noize: I see you will be having a short break then on to some festivals?
JG: We have pretty much got May off, then playing festivals in Greece and Norway and every weekend with time off during the week. We are hoping to do some writing over the summer; it will be good to get started on that. I don't think we will ever tour as extensively as we have been. We certainly won't be away as much. We will be touring in the second half of the year again, it's pretty much nonstop, and we have a single coming out.
Xs Noize: Is that the single featuring Robert Smith from the Cure? (Robert has recorded a cover of the album track 'There's A Girl In The Corner')
JG: Yes, it's coming out in June.
Xs Noize: How did it come about for Robert Smith to cover your song?
JG: We know Stewart from Mogwai, who toured with the Cure years ago, and he stayed in contact with Robert. On our second record, Stewart emailed Robert to say there's this band I think you will like; I'll send you the records if you want? Robert got back to him, saying he was already a fan and already had everything. Stewart showed us the email, and we were like fucking hell!!
So Andy got Robert's email address to send him the new record when it was finished. When we were thinking of what we wanted to do with the next single, Andy emailed him and asked if he would be interested in doing it with us, and he said, aye!
Xs Noize: I have heard a snippet of the song online, and it sounds really good.
JG: I don't know what we expected to come back if he might do an acoustic thing or something, but he has gone full out production on it. It's fucking crazy to hear him sing our song; I don't think we have come to terms with it yet, to be honest. He has been nice about it. We are going to meet him soon, which is going to be cool; he seems like a really nice guy as well. To have him endorse what we do is fucking huge for us; it's absolutely massive it is pretty exciting. The song is getting premiered in the middle of May, so it will be interesting to see what happens with it.
Xs Noize: Do you think you will get to perform the song with Robert?
JG: If he wanted to, then, of course, Andy might sack me as a singer and get him in (laughs). It would be amazing, but he has already given us so much. But if it could happen, we would jump at the chance to do it. He sings the song a bit different from me, but I found myself at one of the gigs repeating the way he sings it by mistake. Brendan, our keyboard player, said, "Did you notice you did that?" I said I did, but I didn't even mean it; it was mental.
People have got to know the band just from that; they have been writing to us saying they have discovered us by people it posting on their Facebook or whatever. If we win more fans, that's great but just having that is probably the highlight of our careers; it's an amazing thing to have and is something we would never have expected.
Xs Noize: Ryan Adams recorded a brilliant version of "Wonderwall", and Noel Gallagher has performed Ryan's version.
JG: We were just talking about that the other day, actually, for that reason.
Xs Noize: The Belfast show is your final show of the tour. Will you do anything differently?
JG: We are just going do what we always do, just go out and play our songs with no gimmicks or anything like that. But I think as it is our last night, it will have energy. We should be absolutely knackered, but there is something about the last night where you just chuck it all out there. We are just going to go and do what we have been doing for the past 56 gigs.
Xs Noize: Have you had any bad gigs?
JG: Not really! There was one where I lost my voice two-thirds of the way in, and we had to stop. That was in Denmark. It wasn't a bad gig, but we had played too many gigs in a row. There are obviously gigs that are better than others because of the way the crowd reacts or certain places that we play, but it has been really positive. There usually is one shite one, but we have been fortunate.
It differs for us each time, each gig is different because of the venue, the sound, the reaction, but I always try to keep in my head that these people have paid their money to come and see us, and I have to put as much effort in as I did the night before and show people why we do this in the first place you know. Usually, during a tour, you get people complaining on social media. People like to complain (laughs). But literally, we have had nothing negative said to us at all; I think we are hitting our stride, to be honest.
Xs Noize: Before recording the new record, you had doubts about how the band could move forward, and now the band has broken through to another level of success. Does it feel good?
JG: It does, but we still have a lot of work to do; things are getting better for us, we are pretty ambitious.
We want the band to go as far as it can to play to more people to go to new places and try new things. We still have it in our heads that we want to do that. The record has done better than any record we have ever done. We are getting to play places we have never been before.
The reaction now at gigs is that people are really, really up for it and are very passionate about what we do. I feel a bit stupid for doubting that at any point. Any doubt I have had at the time has been completely washed away. It feels good because we have worked hard.
Xs Noize: You made a brilliant record
JG: Yeah, I'm really proud of the record as well, but anything worth having you have got to work hard for, and I think we have done that. It's nice to see it slightly start to pay off a little. We want to push the band as far as we can. There are no doubts in our heads about what we can do now. Just seeing the reaction from this, we want more.
Xs Noize: The band seems to be well received in America
JG: America has been really good to us. I think we have toured there like 15 or 16 times now. We are really lucky to have been able to do it once, but having done it many times shows that people really like what we do. It is mental! I still can't get over why people from across the other side of the Atlantic know about this wee band from a place called Kilsyth. It still blows my mind that we have people from all over the world writing to us.
Xs Noize: Is there a song on the album that you really like to play live?
JG: It's different every night on this tour. I like every song on the record, but the one I didn't expect the reaction for was "I Could Give You All That You Don't Want" the response to that every night is amazing! I liked the song; it was a single I thought would be quite popular with the people who liked it, but not as popular as it's proven to be. There is also a song we play called "Drown So I Can Watch" that we play in the set I actually really enjoy singing that. And our new single "It Never Was The Same" always seems to be a moment in the set because it's quite atmospheric, and it just builds and builds.
I have enjoyed playing them all. There is only two that we haven't played yet. I think it's" Pills I Swallow" and the last track on the album. Maybe we will play them later on in the year. The set is the most dynamic set we have ever played because of the new record.
Xs Noize: Will the band be writing new songs during the short break, and do you have a certain writing process?
JG: Not really. Andy will write, then send the music to me, and I'll write my melodies and my lyrics to it, then swap back and forth. We don't sit in a room together with a guitar; it would be nonsense if we did that. It's good where Andy can sit in the privacy of his own house making music that he wants to make without anybody telling him what to do or any outside distractions; then he can send it to me.
The good thing about writing the way we do is that I can make mistakes. Still, if I was in a room with people, id be frightened to try things and do things. In contrast, when you're on your own, you are only making a fool of yourself. That's when something really good comes out, but when you're in a room with a band, you might be more self-conscious about trying stuff. I think it's good the way we can write on our own and make our own mistakes and learn from that, I suppose.
Xs Noize: Do you have much material at the moment for the next record?
JG: No, we haven't got anything (laughs). We really haven't had the time it's been nonstop; the only time we had off was over Christmas, the new year and January. Even then, we weren't off. We were doing sessions and things like that, So really, it'll be the summer when we will get stuck in and start doing it, and hopefully, we can have another record out next year. That's what the plan is, but you never know how things pan out; we will probably have killed each other by then (laughs).
Xs Noize: What music have you been listening to on the road that you recommend?
JG: When the Robert Smith thing happened, I was actually listening to a lot of the Cure anyway.
I was listening to "Faith", "Pornography", and "Disintegration" I probably listened to one of those nearly every day. That was my mindset, knowing that it was going to happen. There was something cool about listening to all those records. I love all of those records, but I think "Disintegration" is perfect, out of the three I have heard it the most It's massive; it has phenomenal song writing on it I suppose it's going to be stuck in my head when we're writing to try and get that scope.
I'm not saying we could get anywhere near that album, but to keep that kind of scope in your head, that's what I want our songs to be. I have been listening to the new Sufjan Stevens album; I have been playing that to death actually; I've listened to that every day, it's a phenomenal album The song 4th of July is just a brilliant song, and I've heard to Errors new album a lot I think that's about it.
I've been watching more TV shows and reading comics. To be honest, there's something about being on the road and being knackered, so I have been sleeping in the back of the van and taking a bit of time out from music and thinking about other things because we are around it all day if we're not we are sound checking playing gigs or doing sessions. Hence, it's nice to get into a different headspace and think of other things apart from music. I love being in a band, but you need a little downtime from it, but those records are the ones I have been listening to a lot.
new single 'It Never Was The Same' is now available to pre-order HERE
The limited run of AA-side vinyl will feature Robert Smith of The Cure and his cover of 'There's A Girl In The Corner'.