Music interview Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic gearing up for Leeds festival hat trick

Twin Atlantic.
Twin Atlantic.
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There aren’t many Glaswegian alternate rock bands that have a classically-trained cellist as a member. However, Twin Atlantic can boast that they have such a member.

Barry McKenna, the group’s lead guitarist, cellist, and one of the keyboard players is a very friendly character, with a thick but warm Scottish accent.

His band’s third album, Great Divide, is due out on August 18 and they will be playing at Leeds Festival on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage on the Saturday. “This will be our third time at Leeds Festival, so we’re pretty excited about being back for the hat trick.”

How do festivals compare to normal shows for Twin Atlantic? “They are way more manic and hectic. Normally when you play a normal gig, you’ve got the whole day to prepare and chill out and make sure everything’s okay, but on a festival stage it’s pretty much throw your stuff on and go.

“You have to be a lot more on your toes, but it makes it that little bit more exciting than a regular gig. People generally really let their hair down at festivals.”

The band have already released two albums that have won them favour with rock critics, but the live experience is something quite different for Twin Atlantic.

McKenna laughs as he describes how they very seldom collectively enjoy a show.

“I can probably count on one hand the number of times when all four of us have walked off and gone ‘that was amazing!’ There’s usually somebody with some sort of gripe, but I think that’s just because we’re perfectionists and we’re always trying to get better at what we do. But there have been those kind of magical moments when we all just go ‘ah, that was amazing’.”

Although they have been in the lower end of the British charts with their singles before, Great Divide has provided Twin Atlantic with their first ever top 20 hit, Heart and Soul.

Barry says that being in the charts is still a very bizarre thing to him.

“[It is] completely bonkers and surreal, to be honest with you.

“When we are writing music I think any kind of artistic endeavour comes from an honest place, the last thing you’re thinking about is how many units it’s going to shift or how well it’s going to be received, you’re just writing music that means something to you.

So when it does get received that well and unanimously taken on board in a really positive way, it’s a really incredible feeling.”

Twin Atlantic play on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage at Leeds Festival on Saturday August 23. Visit http://www.leedsfestival.com/tickets

Starsailor at Leeds Beckett University students' union. Picture: David Hodgson

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