Twilight Sad: 'I've been more frank and honest with my lyrics this time, rather than hiding behind metaphors'
- David Pollock
- 20 November 2018
James Graham pays tribute to The Cure, Mogwai and Frightened Rabbit
Four years ago, almost to the day, I spoke to James Graham of The Twilight Sad ahead of the release of the band's fourth album Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, and he didn't appear to be in a great place regarding the prospects for the band. The previous record, No One Can Ever Know, hadn't done as well as hoped, and he seemed concerned that the band were toiling in obscurity, putting their heart and soul into what they do for negligible returns. If the album about to be released went the same way, he was worried for The Twilight Sad's future.
'I remember that interview,' says Graham now, speaking from home on the Southside of Glasgow, where he lives with his wife and five-month-old son. 'I was in a Travelodge. We're still in Travelodges, nothing's changed there! The goal before that record [Nobody Wants…] was just to be able to make another one, but it brought things I never expected, it was just crazy.' The past four years have been an emotional rollercoaster for Graham, in some ways not for the best; but for the band, vindication came with the fulfilment of a dream.
As has been recounted before, the tour for the fourth album was coming to a close just as the band received an offer to go on tour as support to The Cure, and after that they went out with them again; for a year in total, during which The Twilight Sad were exposed to audiences around the world. 'It was a life-changing experience,' says Graham now. 'They were the band we would have chosen to tour with in our dreams, but not only that, playing our music to crowds that size and seeing it go down well, with Robert Smith watching from the side of the stage every night, it felt like walking through a dream. All because Robert likes our music and wanted to give us a chance.'
Since we spoke, it's been announced that The Cure will be coming to Glasgow for their first Scottish date in 27 years next summer, with support once more from The Twilight Sad alongside Mogwai. It was Stuart Braithwaite of the latter band who introduced Smith and Graham, and Mogwai's label Rock Action has taken on their new record It Won't Be Like This All the Time. Ironically, Nobody Wants… had actually done well under its own power and the Cure tour delayed work on the new record, with Graham saying the following two years were partly taken up by processing what had gone before (as well as the Out Lines album with Kathryn Joseph).
'Those two years held some of the most polar highs and lows you can experience,' he says. 'I got married, we've had a son, but some things in my personal life meant I was the lowest I've ever been. Lyrically, the record reflects that – even in the title, it means two things; that you should appreciate the good times while you can, but when you're low, you have to know you're not always going to feel like that.' The loss of his good friend Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit earlier this year came very close to the birth of his son.
'I've been more frank and honest with my lyrics this time, rather than hiding behind metaphors,' says Graham. 'Which may be a bit scary for people who know me, but I use this as a form of therapy to get things off my chest, and I feel very lucky to have that outlet. Musically, it's the most accomplished thing we've ever done.' It's also a further positive step in the life of one of Scotland's most determined, honest and increasingly well-loved bands.
The album It Won't Be Like This All the Time is out on Fri 18 Jan. The Twilight Sad play Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Thu 29 Nov; Social Bite's Sleep in the Park, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow, Sat 8 Dec; Barrowlands, Glasgow, Sat 2 Mar; and supporting The Cure and Mogwai at Bellahouston Park, Fri 16 Aug.