An interview with Jon from The Twang

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Epitomised by NME in 2007 as Britain’s best new band, critics may say the Birmingham based boys haven’t lived up to the media’s expectations, but 5 years on and still going strong The Twang are heading out on tour, yet again, to celebrate the release of their third studio album 10:20, titled after a note an irate studio neighbor left cello-taped to their studio door.

Rushing out of lectures on Monday afternoon I switch on my phone and hunt down a comfy park bench, to passers by it must have looked like I was having a good chat with an old friend; in reality I was interviewing Jon Watkin (bassist) from the The Twang. We go through the band’s earlier days, speak a lot about their new album and tour then finish with an emotive chat about the German band with whom they share the same name!

How many years have you been together now?

Me and Phil started playing together about 10 years ago. We were working on a housing estate clearing garages and we bought a guitar in our dinner break. We just thought ‘lets get a guitar!’ We learnt a few chords and began messing around writing our own songs, then we started asking people if they wanted to join our band!

Back in your early days, I understand The Streets were a big influence on your sound, who’s been a key influence on your more recent music?

We still have the same influences, only The Streets and The Stone Roses are mentioned in the media as being a big influence on our music, but we listen to The National a lot, they’re an American band, we’re big fans of Elbow and we listen to some of The Cribs.

Your first album got to number 3 in the charts, how did you celebrate?

I don’t really remember, we were on tour at the time so we were very busy and it was an exciting time for us anyway, I think we probably got drunk though. Very drunk.

That’s probably why you don’t remember then! You described writing your second album as a ‘magical time in your career’, how did you cope with the disappointment of it only reaching number 20 in the charts?

It wasn’t a big disappointment to be honest, we kind of knew that the chart position wasn’t going to be great. It’s disappointing, because a lot of work went into it, but it’s just part of what you do. We had a large fan base who loved it and we’ve still got those fans following us now.

Despite it’s darker verses the chorus from the single ‘Mainline’ makes me want to get up, dance and sing along. Is this a taste of what’s to come on the new album?

 Umm, yes, elements of it. A lot of the songs are more thoughtful though. No, that’s not the right word, a lot of the songs are more reflective.

Does your studio neighbor know the note she left for you is featuring on the album cover? 

She doesn’t yet actually! We’ve just had the albums delivered so we thought we’d buy her some flowers and drop them off with the album! We’re practicing there tonight, and she’s just had a baby, so it is understandable she gets annoyed!

Are any of the songs on your new album written about your experiences together as a band?

The songs are generally about relationship scenarios, but a few other subjects too. ‘We’re A Crowd’ is about us, not sure it’s about all of us though.

What about ‘Strangers’?

Oh yeah, well spotted! The chorus is about the band, it says “I recall the smiles” that’s about us when we were younger and we used to go out at night and get drunk and stuff.

Where would you suggest the best place for people to listen to the album is?

On a car journey, with nice scenery. Or off to a festival, or coming back from a festival, or at a festival. It’s very chilled.

Will your tour feature a range of songs across all your albums?

Yeah, it’s pretty even across the 1st, 2nd and 3rd album. We’ve selected songs from all three and maybe we’ll add a couple of covers to freshen it up! We’re working on it hard all this week.

 Have you ever met the German band with the same name?

I have, we were playing in Germany and they came to a gig. I didn’t no whether to love them or hit them. They were really nice to us and everything, but they’d taken us to court before. Listen to them, it’s disgusting, see if you can find anyone to listen to them and be impressed. They do a Robbie Williams song in a folk style which is never good!

10:20 is released on the 29th of this month and is undoubtedly worth a listen. In the mean time give your ears a treat with ‘Mainline’. The Twang play Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms on 11th November 2012

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