INTERVIEW: The Twilight Sad | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“I have so many memories of playing in Newcastle,” reminisces James Graham, frontman of revered Scots The Twilight Sad. “Even in the darker times for the band, it’s always been a city that’s embraced us. It’s a city full of good honest people, very much like Glasgow. I think that’s why we connect so much with it.”

This nostalgia trip comes in anticipation of The Twilight Sad’s show at Newcastle University on Monday 21st October, the first time the quintet have visited the North East in over four years. The date forms part of an extensive world tour; a triumphant conclusion to a decade that’s seen Graham and his bandmates rise from cult outsiders to one of Scotland’s most beloved outfits.

“Over the past decade, personally, this band has given me happiness, frustration, sadness, anxiety, love, friendship, a release, a reason to keep going and great pride,” he reflects. “I often think back to when I was 18 when Andy and I started to talk about writing songs together. I honestly think that I still have the same reason to be writing music now as I did then. At the same time it’s been really hard to survive as a band – we believe that what we’re doing means something more than record sales, magazine covers, likes, follows, endorsements, etc. If we were doing it for all the wrong reasons we wouldn’t still be going.”

this band has given me happiness, frustration, sadness, anxiety, love, friendship, a release, a reason to keep going and great pride

Although the highs have been plentiful, perhaps the pivotal moment occurred back in 2011, with the release of third studio album No One Can Ever Know. It’s a period Graham often cites as the group’s lowest ebb – yet that record’s blueprint is all over superb latest effort It Won’t Be Like This All The Time, which cracked the UK’s top 20 upon release in January.

“We were speaking about that record recently and how proud of it we are. It’s easy to say now, but I do think that was a turning point. We started to play with more electronic sounds and textures. We felt we’d made something special – and we still do – but the music industry once again kept us at arm’s length, which in turn meant that the album didn’t reach as many people as I think it should have. Right record, wrong time perhaps.”

Refocusing on the here and now, it’s fair to say they’ve atoned for lost time. Indeed, the years since have seen their stock soar exponentially thanks in no small part to the endorsement of Robert Smith, who invited them to support The Cure across the US and Europe, along with huge outdoor shows at Hyde Park and Glasgow Summer Sessions.
“Playing to thousands of people every night for six months changed everything for me as a singer – I knew I could no longer hide in the shadows,” Graham reveals. “It made us a better band; now we play every gig like there’s no barrier between us and the audience, be it in front of hundreds or thousands of people. I actually find it more nerve-racking playing to smaller audiences, which we’re still very used to. It’s great to have the balance – the variety keeps it really exciting.”

The Twilight Sad play Newcastle University on Monday 21st October


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