Cape Town - One of the big attractions at Oppikoppi 21: THE FANTASTIC Mr. VOSVOS is Scottish band Twin Atlantic.Coming off the success of the band's The Great Divide (Red Bull Records) album, released last year, bassist, piano player and backing vocalist Ross McNae took some time out from the band's busy schedule to tell us why they decided to come to South Africa.
C24: What attracted Twin Atlantic to play at Oppikoppi?
Ross: People had been getting in touch asking us to come and play in South Africa on and off for a couple of years, and then when our last record came out we kept noticing people getting in touch with us online to say they had it and wanted to see us play so it was a no brainier when we got the offer to come and visit this summer. C24: What are your expectations of South Africa ahead of your trip south?
Ross: First and foremost we're just excited to be coming to play music in a beautiful country we've never visited before. I learned a lot about your history when I was at school and it's always been a place I've wanted to experience first hand rather than just from books. I've been to Africa before and music seemed to be in the bones of so many of the people I met.
C24: I read in a previous interview that Twin Atlantic played in a 1000-person venue to 5 people in St Louis once. How does it feel to have become as successful as you are today?
Ross: Things have been going well for our band over the past few years. More people have been coming to see us play and that's why we started a band in the first place so it's a really positive place for us all to be in our lives. We're really grateful for that.
C24: You played at Glastonbury at the end of June, while also playing several shows around Europe before coming to South Africa. Do you adapt to different audiences based on where Twin Atlantic are playing, or do you bring the same attitude and style to each performance?
Ross: We really work off the energy in the room and if people are excited then we're excited too. Playing music is all we've ever wanted to do so we always start a show on a high, no matter if there are 100 people or thousands. C24: You're with an independent record label Red Bull. What are the pros and cons of being with an independent record label at this point in Twin Atlantic's career and development?
Ross: Well, we've never had any other record deal so I honestly couldn't say if it was better or worse. Obviously if you're on a major label you have people in every country in the world ready to work and break your band, but you're also one of a hundred bands rather than five, so it probably ends up being pretty similar for the most part.
C24: I've read in a previous interview that yourselves and Biffy Clyro know each other. They toured South Africa last year. Had a chance to speak to them about what to expect?
Ross: We've known them for a few years. They were the first band that ever took us on tour and we've always kept in touch. They helped us a lot in the beginning with equipment and we really looked up to them and everything they'd achieved. We've not spoken to them about it yet though, we've been away most of the year touring.
C24: While in South Africa, does Twin Atlantic have any other plans beyond music-related activities?
Ross: I'm really interested in the natural world and you have some of the most magnificent animals in the world on your doorstep so I'm really looking forward to catching a glimpse of some of them. I think you have sun in your continent too which is a rare spot for us being from Scotland. I think we'll be outside a lot.
C24: Twin Atlantic comes from Glasgow. How did the city influence the band's approach to its music, if it did?
Ross: I think it made us honest. Scotland doesn't really let you get ahead of yourself or become too big for your boots. Glasgow has one of the most famous art schools in the world, some of the world’s most iconic music venues, some of the world’s biggest acts have come from Scotland in the past and right now too, so growing up we always had exposure to all sorts of music and art and opportunities to experience all aspects of life. I think that mixed in with the attitudes of Scottish people to daily life have really bled into our music.
(Photo: Dean Chalkley)
C24: What has the band’s most awkward fan experience been?
Ross: There's a video of a man singing one of our songs dressed as a baby online. I'm not sure if he's a fan or not but that's a little weird. Our fans are pretty amazing for the most part though so nothing to tell you I'm afraid. C24: Much has been made in Western popular culture of haggis. Have the band ever indulged in haggis, and have you heard about biltong?
Ross: Haggis is making a real come back in Scotland over the past few years. It's a super fashionable thing to eat again. I'm a life long vegetarian and we have a vegetarian haggis alternative which is pretty amazing - nuts, seeds and pulses with various spices. It's a pretty amazing tasting substitute and a lot of my friends choose that instead of the real thing. I haven't heard of biltong but I can almost definitely guess that it has meat in it? If so I'm afraid I'll leave it up to the others.
C24: How does Twin Atlantic stay mentally and physically fresh on tour?
Ross: We make sure we eat healthily as much as possible. Craig our drummer goes running most days too.
C24: What is Twin Atlantic's opinion on selfie sticks, and selfies themselves?
Ross: I am a selfie addict. Sam thinks I have a problem and keeps talking to me about research that points towards moderate mental illness being prevalent in extreme selfie taking.
*Catch Twin Atlantic in Cape Town for their performance at One Night In Cape Town at Shimmy Beach Club on Friday 7 August. Tickets cost R400 and are available from Computicket.
*Catch Twin Atlantic at Oppikoppi, which is taking place from 7-9 August in Northam. Tickets for the festival cost R750 and are available here.
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