Sam McTrusty – Lead Vocals & Guitar
Ross McNae – Bass, Piano & Vocals
Barry McKenna – Guitar, Cello & Vocals
Craig Kneale – Drums & Vocals
In the last couple of decades, the city of Glasgow has shone as one of the world's most vibrant and diverse music scenes. Twin Atlantic – a young four-piece whose ambitious debut mini-album, Vivarium, is packed with enormous sweeping riffs, moods that flit from light to shade, and impassioned vocals dripping with gorgeous Scottish vowels – are powering out of that creative hub of a hometown to take on the world.
The seeds of Twin Atlantic were sown when front man Sam McTrusty and bassist Ross McNae met at school, united by a love of music. Guitarist and cellist Barry McKenna came on board after driving the fledgling band around Scotland to tiny pub gigs. The final piece of the puzzle came in the shape of drummer Craig Kneale, who had been in an earlier band with Ross.
"It's very incestuous scene, but everybody helps each other and it's genuine," explains Sam. "If you're from Scotland you're pretty much an underdog from the start because everything's going on in London. I think it's awesome that there's loads of amazing music getting made in Glasgow."
Since those early days, they have evolved into one of the UK's most exciting new rock bands, poppy melodies twisted with a metallic crunch and shades of prog experimentation. After an ambitious EP, A Guidance From Colour, and show-stopping support slots with alt-rock legends Smashing Pumpkins and like-minded American prog rockers Circa Survive, fans are already showing up at gigs with their logo and lyrics tattooed to their bodies. They're far from an overnight success though - a lot of hard work has gone into this band. "Our practice space up until recently was Craig's dining room," says Sam. "We'd be at his house at 12 and practice until half four, and then he would go to sleep for two hours, get up, go to work at B&Q all night, sleep for two hours, wake up and then practice. He did that for months." They've always been a creative bunch. Barry was classically trained at the prestigious Royal Academy in Glasgow and started his career touring with orchestras. Ross studied photography and oversees the band's artwork, while Sam painted at art school, another experience that gave him the opportunity to develop the ideas whizzing around his head. Sam continues to paint – occasionally creating one-of-a-kind merch pieces for fans to buy.
In March 2009, Twin Atlantic headed over the ocean to the crazed streets of Austin, Texas to play four blistering shows at South by Southwest. Their American adventure took them to LA shortly afterwards to record ‘Vivarium' with producer John Travis, who has worked with Kid Rock, Sugar Ray, Static X and Social Distortion. With this unfamiliar environment looming on the horizon, Sam started working on the lyrics, for the first time looking outwards at the world around him.
"All the songs on the EP were all really personal, probably too personal. Just moaning about my problems and my family," Sam remembers. "But the lyrics on the new record are a lot more universal. The opening song ‘Lightspeed' fully encompasses the whole idea of the record, a kind of togetherness, and us being determined not to give up. There's a song called ‘You're Turning Into John Wayne', which is about Americanization. It relates to signing with an American label and we were on the phone to a lot of American producers all the time talking about going over there to record, and it was just in the front of my mind, the way American culture is everywhere. So much so that loads of bands put on fake American accents in hopes to be more commercially viable in the US, while it was important to us to stay true to our roots and just be ourselves. It's not meant as an anti-American song, we've had a blast in the US. It's more just an observation from a guy from Glasgow. And ‘Caribbean War Syndrome' came about because I was reading about being at war in Italy, and I was also playing a lot of the video game, ‘Medal of Honor,' so I wrote a song about people going to war in the Caribbean, that idea of trouble in paradise."
Twin Atlantic are poised for greatness. The group of fans who once held them as their little secret is growing like a virus, the word of mouth buzz about their intense live shows building a rock solid base that the band can rely on. And for Sam McTrusty, it's a state of affairs he's been sure of for as long as they have been playing together. ?
"We're some of those people who just totally believe in ourselves," Sam smiles. "If people don't like our ideas we always think it's not that they don't like them, they just don't understand them. We're convinced by that wholeheartedly and determined to just keep on going and going, and that's why we've lost friends and girlfriends, fallen out with friends and family and got kicked out of flats to be in this band. So when we see other people believing in a wee story that we've written, that keeps pushing us."
But this, more than ever, is no time for complacency. After the summer festivals have been shaken to their foundations, it's time for the band to start thinking really big.
"My ambition is so great for this band that I'm never going to be really happy until we're one of the big guys," says Sam. "I don't really care what people think of that. I would love for our band to be one of the biggest bands in the world because I believe in myself and the other guys in the band so much. I believe we can do that."