There’s been a lot of press coverage about The Twang recently. It would seem that the media have been pining for a lad-band since Liam Gallagher stopped attacking photographers at two-am in the morning. And if our national newspapers are to be believed, The Twang are the mouthy, rowdy, boozing heirs to the Oasis throne.
So it was with caution I phoned co-frontman Saunders - he shares vocals with Phil Etheridge - in order to get his opinions on all things rock ‘n’ roll.
It turned out he had no idea I would be calling – so a good start there then. But he didn’t seem to mind. In fact the Bearwood boy was more than happy to discuss pretty much anything it would seem, despite my fears that the press spotlight had started to wear them down.
“No, not at all. You’ve gotta do it haven’t you? I mean I can only pretty much think of the Sun and the Guardian out of the nationals talking to us. It’s Phil who they talk to really.”
|Phil Etheridge (L) and Saunders|
The band - which also includes bassist Jon Watkin, guitarist Stu Hartland and drummer Matty Clinton - were in Hull when I called, that’s because they are currently on a national tour. Good luck getting tickets for any of the shows though, almost all of the next 16 gigs have sold out.
In fact, to be more specific, they were in WH Smiths in Hull looking for the latest copy of NME. The background noise I could hear over the phone told the story of a bunch of boys desperately excited by their first appearance in the music magazine.
Living in the back of a van
It was NME who introduced most of the nation to the Birmingham rockers by labelling them “the biggest balls-out rock’n’roll People’s Band Of 2007”. I’m not sure what that means but if it creates nation-wide sell out tours then Saunders has no problem with it.
“We’re just stuck in the back of a van together most the time, but we love it. We’ve got a DVD player and stuff so we just have a laugh. We’re living our dream. It’s ace at the moment, we might get sick of each other but five minutes later you’ll be best mates again.”
The formula to success for The Twang isn’t complicated, it mainly consists of that “having a laugh” approach which audiences instantly relate to, but how does the co-frontman thing work?
|The Twang, pic by Steven Gerrard|
“We both just go mad,” so pretty easily then. “We listen to music we like, we have a few drinks and have it up on stage. He does most of the singing and I’ll chip in. You’re never on your own up there so you can just have a laugh.”
It’s no surprise that there was a massive record label bidding war for the group’s talents late last year, the figures that were reportedly being offered were near the one million pound mark. Etheridge was quoted as saying he was having caviar for starters on record execs accounts.
“Too right. We were bashing credit cards left, right, and centre. You could have whatever you wanted from behind the bar, so we did.”
The samurai sword
So we have established they are big drinkers, so surely The Twang must meet the bad boy brawler image that the tabloids tell us about. For instance, there was a story recently which involved bassist Jon, a nightclub and a Samurai sword.
“Yeah they kept going on about Jon with this samurai sword in a nightclub. How do you get a samurai sword into a nightclub? You just gotta let people write down what they write and just carry on with it.”
“He had a sword once as a kid and he took it outside and got arrested, end of.” That clears that up then.
Depending on what you read The Twang sound like Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and even The Streets, but if you listen to Saunders, they sound like none of them.
“I suppose most bands come along and you want to compare them with someone which is fair enough. But you’ve heard the single, we don’t sound like any of those bands. We’re different, we’re a good dancey band.”
Despite the comparison to Manchester greats Saunders’ Brummie drawl has not abandoned him and neither has his penchant for the odd obscenity or six, cleaned up here for BBC readers consumption of course. His voice is the voice you hear on every street corner and in every boozer throughout the city.
“We knew each other before the band obviously like. Most of us went to the same school or know each other from drinking cider in the park. The lads had made this band, I saw what they were doing and I just thought they were funny and joined.”
“We played all the usual gigs, the Flapper and all those places. We would rather just go into Brum and have a laugh and then we realised we were quite good.”
“The music scene’s good in Brum at the moment. We’ve always done our own thing to be honest but there are some really good bands in the area.”
Making an album
If there is to be a resurgence in the Birmingham music scene then it will be The Twang who will lead the way. The debut single is ready to hit record store shelves and there’s an album on the horizon.
“The single’s got big guitar riffs and an emotional tune. We never thought it would be our first single, it doesn’t sound anything like what people expect it to sound like.”
“We’re recording the album at Magic Garden in Wolverhampton with Gavin Monaghan. Working with Gavin was good because we know the geezer. Sometimes with big legend types it can be awkward but we just got on with it."
“The tunes are sounding ace at the moment. When it does come out it will be wicked.”
In the meantime the boys will be on the road and returning to Brum for a gig at the Academy 2 on 22nd March, 2007. It’s sold out of course, so if you haven’t got a ticket don’t even try. Although Saunders and the gang will be satisfying the masses with a newly announced gig on 26th April, 2007, at the Birmingham Sanctuary.
Saunders however has one thing on his mind when coming back to Birmingham.
“It’ll be good to spend a night in our own beds and see mates and everyone else. We’re coming home and it should be wicked.”
Tha band's debut single Wide Awake is released for download on March 12th, 2007, and in record shops on March 19th, 2007. Check www.thetwang.co.uk for more details.