Home > Interviews > Q&A: Barry McKenna & Ross McNae (Twin Atlantic) at Leeds Festival 2015

Q&A: Barry McKenna & Ross McNae (Twin Atlantic) at Leeds Festival 2015

Carrie Humphries


Hello Ross and Barry! It’s your fifth year in a row playing Reading and Leeds Festival. Is there anything in particular that makes it special for you guys?

Barry: It’s basically one of the most famous rock festivals in the world; isn’t it? For us, as a rock band, it’s kind of the holy grail in terms of festivals. The reason we keep coming back is it’s just the best one. There’s always such a good crowd and such a good response, that it makes us feel totally at home each year.

Have you guys got anything interesting planned for your set later?

Ross: Well it’s actually our last proper show off our album, Great Divide. For us, it’s just going to be a big celebration; a chance to look back at what’s happened for us over the last year and be thankful for all the opportunities that we have been given. We’re basically playing a set where there’s no filler songs at all, just the good stuff. So we’re just trying to go out with a bang!

What inspired each of you personally to make music and get into a band?

Barry: I think just growing up listening to a lot of great bands. We all had that curiosity. If you see something interesting, it’s kind of like ‘Ohh I’d like to do that!’. It started off from there, and then just for me personally, it just snowballed. We’re probably all quite similar, we just love music. In all our families we were exposed to a lot of different types of music growing up. My dad plays the guitar, so having another musician in the house made a big difference as well.

Ross: I think part of it is when we were young, we had all already been involved in music on different levels. I mean Barry learnt classically pretty intensely for hours, while I was more casual. When you’re around fourteeen and looking at other bands, the idea of being in a band is kind of cool. That is way before you realise that it’s actually not that glamorous. One of the reasons why you might want to be in a band in the first place is thinking ‘Well, that’s cool.’

What has been the biggest learning curve for your guys since forming the band?

Ross: We started touring pretty much straight away after becoming a band. That was eight years ago. We’ve been touring so much and we’ve all had to learn to deal with relationships with friends, family, girlfriends and wives for some of us. You have to deal with all those things, but you also have to learn how to live with your best friends. Nobody lives with their best friends twenty four hours a day, but we do. You have to learn some of the most basic things in life. It teaches you a lot of patience, because you’re up almost constantly trying to keep various plates spinning and keep everyone happy. All of this obviously at the same time as being in a band.

As you’ve already mentioned, this is the last gig of the old album. Does this mean that album number three is on the way?

Barry: Yes, absolutely. We are very excited about it. The old album has been out for just over a year, but you’ve got to remember that most of these songs were written a year before that. Therefore, we’ve been working with these songs for about two years. We’re quite anxious to work on the new album. We’ve never really written in a certain style, so the idea of making another record excites us. We’re getting stuck right in to it. A lot of bands take time off and have a wee holiday, but we took time off during this album; so we’re ready and raring to go.

You guys did a bit of a documentary with Great Divide in the form of a documentary with some of the album packages. Are there any plans to bring out a live DVD or something along those lines?

Ross: Yeah, we actually did think about doing it for this album. We’d definitely like to do that at some point in the future. I think our live show really shows what we’re about. If we could capture that somehow in a proper thing, it would be brilliant. We’ll definitely do it one day.

You guys are scheduled to release a photo book, A Short Photographic History of Twin Atlantic, in December. Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired that move?

Ross: Basically, our drummer Craig has been taking pictures. He got a camera not long after the band started and he just became obsessed with capturing every detail of what went on and everywhere that we went. He basically has this amazing record of the band. Nobody else would have access to that, because he’s in the band. We just kind of thought ‘Why are these just sitting here?’ They could be interesting to people, especially if the band is one of their favourites. He can tell the story better than anyone else could. It’s also very interesting as well to see his journey from starting the photography, to how good he has become now.

Where has been your favourite place to visit on tour?

Ross: We got to go to South Africa this year.

Barry: Yeah it was kind of monumental. To get to go to those places as a tourist is cool enough, but to get to do it as a band is amazing. To get to experience those cultures, the musical cultures all around the world is something indescribable. We’re really really lucky and just happy that we get to do that every other month.

Ross: We also both really liked New York and San Francisco. Melbourne was simply amazing. We always like going to Germany too; Berlin is really nice. Lots of places. How do you pick one? It’s hard.

Barry: I don’t think I could pick one. I could maybe narrow it down to three, but then I’d be a bit stumped.

If there was one item that you could take from home and have it with you when you’re touring, what would it be and why?

Ross: I’ve fallen into this trap before! I said Irn-Bru and my wife wasn’t happy!

Barry: She said an item though; a thing, so people are out.

Ross: My cat. Ahh actually that’s alive, so it’s not an item.

Barry: Yeah, it’s got to be an inanimate, non-breathing object of some description.

Ross: It’s a tough question.

Barry: We’re kind of used to being on the road, so it’s kind of like being at home. We spend so much time away.

Ross: Give this man a medal.

Barry: We get so settled being away from home while touring, that it sort of is like a second home. We could say anything. I don’t know if I’d want to integrate the two. I like a wee bit of separation. It’s nice to have a flip side to the coin and do one thing for a while, and then come back and do the other thing. I suppose we’ve got to answer the question, so one thing.

Ross: One thing.

Barry: Screw it; I’m going to be that guy. I think I’d have a really nice espresso machine. I’ve got a bit of a coffee addiction. I never used to be into coffee until fairly recently. I was a cold beverage exclusively kind of guy. When I got really into coffee, my girlfriend brought me a really nice espresso machine and I’d just bring that.

Ross: I’d probably do the same. I’d probably bring mine.

Finally, what have you guys got planned for the rest of the year?

Ross: We’re going to record the new album, and we’re going to do some small shows with some of the brand new material, but nothing too big. It’s mainly just to see how things are working, material-wise.