The Twang come back fighting
By Louise Brierley
"They think we're straight off the estate!" The Twang fire back at their critics, discuss their new album and say why the Jewellery Quarter is their new hang-out.
New album 'Jewellery Quarter'
For any fan of The Twang it will seem like they've been away for a long time. The band shot to fame in 2007 with their debut album 'Love it when I feel like this' which reached number three in the album charts.
They were hailed "the best band in Britain" by NME, sold out gigs across the UK and were heavily played on Radio 1.
After a year and a half out of the spotlight, they are back with new album 'Jewellery Quarter'.
Difficult second album
After a year of solid touring in 2007, the opportunity came up to work with the influential record producer, Youth who is best known for hits such as The Verve's 'Urban Hymns' and Guns 'N' Roses' 'Chinese Democracy'.
Frontmen Phil and Saunders
They went up to a cottage in Anglesey in the New Year, wrote 25 songs and went to Spain to record their second album which should have been released in July 2008.
But there was a problem. "They tried to make us into a stadium rock band and two days into recording, I knew it wasn't working," said frontman Phil Etheridge.
"If we'd been signed to a major at that point, they'd of put it out, everyone would have gone, it's not good enough and we would have been dead in the water now. And the label (B-Unique Records) to their credit said, have some time. It's a shame 'cos Youth is a legend."
The new album on a billboard in the JQ
So, they went back to the drawing board. They found a rehearsal studio in the Jewellery Quarter. "As soon as we came back here, everything started changing," recalled co-frontman Martin Saunders.
"It's a real creative little area. We moved here and it sparked something, the tunes started coming, 'Barney Rubble' and big hits off the album within a week."
It was here that they met another resident - the urban artist Temper - who produced the new artwork for their album cover.
"Our life revolves around the Jewellery Quarter, it's buzzing", exclaims Phil.
Phil and Saunders at St Pauls Square
The new album
By the time the band came round to selecting tracks for the album, they had at least 50 to choose from. "Youth made us write a song everyday and that's the best advice you could give any band," said Phil. "Hence why the bonus disc has six original tracks on it."
They also worked with a new producer. "It's a completely different record song-wise," explains Saunders. "In terms of songs they're a lot more worked out, vocally they're more sung, whereas on the first album there was a lot more chatting. It's got a softer side to it, it's more lo-fi, we wanted to get away from the chatty, laddish reputation."
The first single off the album is called 'Barney Rubble'. "It's about annoying your girlfriend by always wanting to stay out with your mates," smiles Phil. But asked about their favourite track it is 'Encouraging Sign' that they both agree on.
The Twang meet fans
"We'd finished the record and (bassist) Jon said: 'Let's have one last push'. I had this riff and I went in with Saunders and put the basics of the song together and by the time Jon walked in he was blown away.
"It's kind of nice when you get it as a surprise isn't it? Because you think the record's done and then out pops a hit" adds Saunders.
If you look online there are mixed reviews about The Twang's new album and it's a bit of a sore point with the band. On the one hand Radio 1's Zane Lowe chose 'Another Bus' as his hottest record in the world in May and both the News of the World and NME give positive reviews.
Fans queuing to meet the band
But it's the bad ones from some of the broadsheet critics that are getting under their skin.
"There's a class thing going on in the media," states Phil. "They think we're straight off the estate and that we can't be creative and we're trying to be these working class heroes.
"First and foremost we're trying to be a band and we are! We're selling out shows, we're making records and we're having the life we want to live."
Referring to the media hype surrounding the first album Phil said: "They jumped on us and they wanted us to be something we weren't. If I'd got arrested and got a heroin habit or started having a thing with Sarah Harding it would be a different scenario. It's just because we kept doing our thing, playing shows... they want the next tragedy!"
Frontman Phil Etheridge signs autograph
Despite what some of their critics say, more than 100 people queued up at Bimingham's HMV store to meet the band, on the day of their album release. They've also been chosen along with The Editors, Mike Skinner and Ocean Colour Scene to play the opening weekend of the new O2 Academy at Holloway Circus in September 2009. In fact their gig sold out two months before it's due to take place.
They are also set to play at V Festival later this month for the second year in a row.
"I remember looking out at V last year and my brothers and mates were there and it's mad times and it's emotional man," said Phil. "They're singing back their songs to you and for an hour or so you're on top of the world, you're flying. Gigging is what we're about, we're one of the best live bands out there!"
Interview conducted with Phil Etheridge and Martin Saunders on the day of their album release - Monday 3rd August 2009 - at the Actress and Bishop pub, Birmingham.
last updated: 05/08/2009 at 11:55
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