THE Twilight Sad were one of a handful of Scottish bands to cross the Atlantic to perform at South by Southwest (SXSW), an arts festival in Austin, Texas showcasing some of the world’s most cutting-edge bands and artists. Singer James Graham reveals why hot sauce nearly “ended him”, and why he won’t be partying hard with Andrew WK in the near future.
How did your gig go?
I think it went well, we had some technical problems before the gig but we sorted it out in time for the start of the gig. The crowd were really nice and there was a guy handing around a bottle of whisky during the gig. Every gig is a bit hectic during SXSW as you don’t really get a proper soundcheck or even a line check sometimes, but at the same time it also keeps you on your toes. Sometimes it brings out added tension and lets you get your frustrations out during the gig, which also helps with the type of music we play and our live performances. Playing the Scottish showcase is always really enjoyable because there’s a lot of familiar faces at the gig. We feel very privileged to be asked to play these sort of events and are very grateful to the people in charge of The Scottish Showcase event for letting us bring our miserable songs to the good people of Texas.
How was SXSW in general; how did it compare to last year?
This year has been totally different from last. We have been on tour in North America for nearly four weeks touring and promoting our new album and then finishing off the tour at SXSW. We played around eight or nine gigs in four days, whereas last year we played three gigs and only flew over for the festival and left straight after. Last year we benefited from being at the festival in different ways from this year. We gained a manager which we needed very badly and had a lot of meetings with people in the industry who we ended up working with for the promotion of our new album. It was also very nice to be involved in the SXSW BBC Scotland documentary, although I’m not sure that me blowing my head off and nearly spewing on the BBC camera crew in a hot sauce shop was how I imagined making my television debut - cheers Vic Galloway! I was hoping to get my own back on him this year as he said he’d try this (which nearly ended me) after I did and he did not. I shall gain my revenge one day Mr Galloway.
Who did you particularly enjoy watching?
I’m pretty terrible at planning anything, so I try and float around the festival and stumble upon bands to watch and weird local things to do and places to drink. We were also really busy this year so I missed a lot of bands that I’d have liked to have seen. I did get to see The Slow Club for the first time and they were amazing and then after that we all went to see The-Dream in a half-empty church which was surreal and really cool. I enjoyed the two Scottish Showcases and our label Fat Cat Records showcase.
Any festival mishaps?
We managed to blow the power out in the whole venue at the Fat Cat Records Showcase halfway through our set. Usually when something like that happens it feels like a bit of a disaster but there was such a good atmosphere in the venue we all cheered because it felt like some sort of an achievement because it was the end of the tour and it was our last show; I didn’t think we were playing that loud but I suppose I’m used to it. The power came back on and the crowd all cheered. It was one of my favourite moments since we started this band. Other mishaps would be: eating too much, drinking too much, not sleeping enough. All the usual things we’re known for. Also Andrew WK and myself didn’t see eye to eye as he introduced us as “Twilight” and stopped us from line checking by playing a 20 minute cock rock opera before we played so I called him out on it on stage. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but when you trying to set up your equipment the last thing you need is that. I was a bit gutted as we were hoping to cover “Party Hard” with him, but after that partying hard wasn’t on my agenda as those s**** vampire films are the bane of my existence.