BIRMINGHAM band The Twang burst on to the scene in 2007 with an NME Award and three top 40 hits and were dubbed with the tag ‘next big thing’.
It’s been an extremely rocky road for the band since then and reporter JAMES BRINDLE caught up with bassist Jon Watkin ahead of the release of the band’s third album to find out what has been going on.
“IT nearly broke us.” The Twang founder member Jon Watkin admitted that the realisation last year that one of their bandmates had stolen more than £10,000 worth of equipment from their studio almost signalled the end for the Brummies.
The discovery that original drummer and life-long friend Matty Clinton had let them down so badly left the remaining members devastated, particularly Watkin and singer Phil Etheridge.
Watkin said: “Me and Phil started the band and we were driving one night and I just said to him ‘we’re finished here’ and that was in the early stages of what happened with Matt.
“It got a lot worse and we just thought it was all over. It was similar to it happening with a girlfriend or wife — it takes a lot out of you.”
The decision was made to sack Clinton and after much soul searching it was felt the band had gone too far to let it all slip away.
They replaced Clinton with Ash Sheehan, well known on the underground house scene and known throughout the world for his legendary percussion sets from the Midlands to Ibiza.
He had played alongside the likes of Annie Mac, Swedish House Maffia, P Diddy and Will.i.am and was a friend of the band.
Watkin said: “We had put so much work in to the record that we decided to keep going and started to audition for new drummers.
“Ash was the wildcard — everyone knows about Ash in the industry and to be honest we have a better drummer now. He is a real musician and very talented.”
The episode with Clinton came at a time when the band were already dealing with some disillusion following a lukewarm response to their second album Jewellery Quarter.
It’s easy to forget just how lauded The Twang were back in 2007 and how much success they actually achieved.
NME heralded the band as their next big thing, handing them the Philip Hall Radar Award before they had even released a single and splashed them on the front cover of the iconic mag.
The bands resulting debut album flew in to the album charts at number three, while first single Either Way broke the top 10 in the singles chart, almost impossible for a guitar band these days.
However, Watkin told the Mail that he honestly never thought the band justified that level of hype but was still taken aback by the rapid change in the media’s position on the band — particularly that of the NME who had so supported them.
“I think initially we had so much spotlight on us and so much praise that looking back I don’t think we lived up to it to be honest,” he said.
“We were on the front cover of the NME, on the Radio One A list and even won an NME award before we released anything.
“I think the knives were out with certain aspects of the media and they went for the second album. It may be that they just don’t like us.
“The NME gave us a right pasting for the last record. We were getting messages from some people in that office who said they liked it but others didn’t maybe we were unlucky with the reviewer.”
The Twang release their third album 10:20 on Monday (October 29), a more reflective and introspective affair than previous outings.
Watkin told the Mail he was ‘proud’ of the album the band have come up with but admitted there was some apprehension.
He said: “We have put a lot of work into it. At the start after the second album was not that well received we thought let’s just see how it goes and not get too down about it.
“We were a bit apprehensive to put our all into it just to be kicked in the guts again but we’ve probably put more into this album than any of the others.
“We’ve put a lot into the arrangements and the running order making sure it all flows right and we’ve mastered it twice to make sure it’s all right.
“We recorded the album in our studio in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and didn’t have any label pressure.
“They used to book a month for us to tour, then a month to write the record and then a month to record it and it just didn’t work but hindsight’s a great thing.
“We had no pressure with this one as we were not paying astronomical fees for producers so we could just sit and re-work things and re-record parts.
“It was a long slog but looking back it was worth it. I’m proud of the album and I think it is as good as a lot of albums that are out there now. There is a lot of craft and the arrangements are good.”
The fanfare which ushered in the release of the band’s previous albums is not as prevalent with the new record and Watkin is realistic about its commercial ambitions.
“I’m not expecting a number one but I would just like people to give it a listen and say it’s good because I think it is,” he said.
“We’ve not tried to just write a rubbish hit but we’ve really tried to craft a whole album. I don’t want people to write that it’s rubbish as that is hard to take when you put a lot of effort in.
“It’s not the done thing to talk about money but I would like to earn a living and make a success — it would keep me out of work.”
The band tour on the back of the album release from this week including trips to Wolverhampton and Derby.
Watkin said he was looking forward to getting on the road to play to the band’s loyal fans after his own personal hiatus.
He said: “We are fresh and ready to go.
We’ve got a new lad playing acoustic guitar with us filling the sound out with the new songs and we’ve been rehearsing regularly for the tour.
“We’ve been practising hard and getting the set ready. It’s exciting as I’ve not done a tour for a while as I took a year out and the lads went out without me.”
The Twang’s third album 10:20 is released on Monday and the band play Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall on Monday, November 5 and Derby Academy on Wednesday, November 7.
Tickets are available from www.musicglue.com