Almost three years since the release of their debut album Free, which catapulted this Glaswegian four-piece from the clubs to playing sold-out shows for thousands of rabid fans around the world, Twin Atlantic released their second album Great Divide in Australia on August 15 via Red Bull Records.
That much of Great Divide was written late at night, after Twin Atlantic had stepped off yet another festival stage somewhere in the world is evident from first listen. Addictive, arms-aloft anthems with instantly catchy choruses, Great Divide is a rock record with widescreen ambition, inspired by both the band watching their own fans and from sharing stages with the likes of Springsteen and Foo Fighters.
Great Divide was recorded in Rockfield, Wales with esteemed producer Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies), and in the US with the legendary Jacknife Lee (U2, R.E.M., One Direction).
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Twin Atlantic’s Craig Kneale to discuss the record. This is what he told us.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
The first writing session for the album was at the start of 2012 in Los Angeles when we had a week break between a couple of American tours. Sam (our singer) has been writing songs for a few months before that I think, but that was the first time he’d brought that material to us to work on together.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
I’d say it was a song called “Brothers And Sisters,” which is actually very first song we worked on together in that first writing session. We wrote it out quite easily initially and were really happy with it, but once it got to the recording stage we started to change it quite drastically and ended up getting very confused with it. We ended up recording it three times in total, before reverting back to a similar idea to what we had when we first wrote it out! I think it’s because we definitely saw the song as one of the key moments in the album – and just wanted to drill that home as much as we could, which meant we started to over think it.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
Probably a song called “Rest In Pieces,” which we envisioned as quite a stripped back acoustic song which would maybe just be a vocal and acoustic guitar. When we got to the recording stage our producer Gil said he wanted to put on his head and try and build the song from different samples to give the album a different texture. It’s went from being an acoustic song into the closest thing we’ve had to an electronic song.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
We had a Welsh Choir come in when we were in Wales (obviously), to put down vocals on a few tracks. Unfortunately most of it didn’t make the album but it was great getting to watch how they worked. It was an insight into how powerful a human voice can be when the whole spectrum is filled.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
We actually worked with two producers on this album, which was a new experience for us. For most of the album we worked with Gil Norton, who also produced our previous album Free, at a residential studio in a small town called Rockfield – the studio was called Rockfield Studios. Which is a great name for a music studio anyway, even if you aren’t based in a town called Rockfield. We were there for three months in the summer of 2013 and it was great, Gil just gets rock music and he just took out the confusing elements of our songs to make them as hard hitting as possible.
After that summer we ended up writing more songs though, and they sounded too good to just not try and fit on the album. We wanted a change of direction to give the album a different texture though, so we ended up working with a producer called Jacknife Lee (who we were big fans of) at his home studio in Topanga Canyon, which is in the mountains near Los Angeles. We’d gone from working in the wilderness of Wales, to the wilderness in California – with a producer who couldn’t work more differently than Gil. Jacknife said he wanted to confuse us and push us in directions we hadn’t gone before – it really was a culture shock at first, but he is a fascinating person to work with. Probably the most creative person I’ve ever met.
Although it shouldn’t have worked, the two sessions complemented each other so well – together they give this diverse but congruent album.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Not a concept to the album more than the songs all being about growing into manhood, which is something all of us in the band are currently going through as we’re in our mid to late twenties and are all starting to think about families and relationships a little more seriously. It’s a hard thing to come to terms with at first, and a lot of the songs are probably inspired by that, although it wasn’t a conscious decision that the album would have that as an overriding theme.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
Yeah, we’ve been playing a few of the songs since the start of this summer – and now that the album is out we’ve been adding more in before we’ll probably play the majority of them from our headline shows onwards. We’ve been really lucky that they’ve all been going down pretty great, but the first single “Heart And Soul” definitely seems to elicit the biggest reaction. Even more than the bigger songs from our last album. That’s been exciting and also a massive relief for us as a band – you’re always going to be judged the most heavily on the first thing you release of a new album and “Heart And Soul” was quite a departure for us a band. It’s much poppier than anything we’ve done before and I think that turned quite a few people off. But it turned a lot more people on, and the reaction we’ve seen live for it by old and new fans alike has been mind blowing.
(Visit Twin Atlantic here: http://www.twinatlantic.com/.)