A State of Mind, the award-winning podcasters, invited Donald and Stuart to represent TwinsTown, performing a few songs and being interviewed. Apparently the podcasters had met the twins before, when they gatecrashed a Kyle Falconer interview, and knew what they were getting into. Hard to believe, I know.
Later, I discovered top podcaster Paul John Dykes is originally from Oakley. The world makes sense for once. These days I’m glad when something, anything, makes sense.
A State of Panic, I mean preparation, A State of Preparation
To prepare for the podcast I watched A State of Mind Unplugged featuring Shambolics. Unsurprisingly deeply earnest in parts (not in a bad way), it had iconic captions to introduce interview segments.
My mind boggled. Imagine the TwinsTown captions… taboo doesn’t even begin to describe my thoughts. Unpublishable even on this liberal blog.
In the end diplomacy and clever editing won.
Cut to the Chase, FFS!
This is well worth a watch and thank you A State of Mind Unplugged.
“We left Oakley at five past ten and arrived here at quarter to twelve,” said Billy, as I claimed we’d been on the road for two hours. We’d been the lead car in a convoy to Tpot Studios, Path of Condie, but Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were nowhere to be seen as we trundled through the Ochil Hills at 7mph.
The arduous journey, complete with leaving Donald behind after a pit stop in Milnathort, was worth it. Watch this video and see what you think.
I Don’t Know What I Want For Christmas is the new single from TwinsTown and My Pet Rocket featuring Hugh Reed from Hugh Reed and the Velvet Underpants as Santa Claus and a special guest appearance from Billy ‘Rubber Duck’ George. 10-4 good buddy.
Watch out there’s a bear in the air…
Not really, but we do have a bear in the video, and it wouldn’t matter anyway, we’re all expert at foiling the pesky picnic police and their carnaptious covid constabulary.
I just knew you guys had something special from the moment I met you.
Billy George, manager and vocals
My wee song previews for TwinsTown’s stunning debut album end here, with the title track, Brankholm Brae. It’s going to be emotional.
I’m buzzing with this album… love you all like brothers, the whole team. I mean it from the bottom of my big heart [Big Heart is track 6 on Side One].
Stuart Mackay, lead vocals and guitar
Being part of TwinsTown is great. We are like brothers. The brethren. Making Brankholm Brae has been one of the best experiences ever, and I think that goes for everyone involved. Even Harry has his mojo back.
Aye, actually enjoyed playing guitar for the first time in about 7 years.
Harry Dixon, bass and lead guitar
We’ve reached the end of an era.
No more trips to Tpot Studios, Path of Condie.
No more extraordinary feats of producing (and patience) from top sound man Robin Wynn Evans.
No more extraordinary feats of everything (including huge patience) from top band manager Billy George.
No more recording sessions watching Harry Dixon, Wayne Robertson, Mark Guyan, Donald Mackay and Stuart Mackay putting heart and soul into their work.
No more mixing, trying to decide if Harry shouting “FLARE IT!” can be heard during Something New.
No more drinking ’til the early sunrise, Monday morning long lies, nor holidays and alibis.
As for the mix. Fucking love it. It’s perfect for me, every track. I’m happy with the drums and the vocals. Wrath has a cool western reverb too.
Wayne Robertson, drums
Of course, you know what brothers are like. It’s not all love and bromance. There’s always the odd fall-out, tumble off a bar stool, black eye, and even the odd dressing down in a dressing gown. The quiet ones are always the worst. You know who they are, and THEY know who they are…
Honestly feeling a lot more confident about everything after [rehearsing] last night. Not going to lie, I was doubting my capabilities quite a bit, but now I can’t wait to get gigging.
Mark Guyan, keyboards and piano
Putting bumps into othewise flat roads is the worst “calming measure” ever. Speed bumps infuriate me. TwinsTown have the best calming measure ever. The Backbone is back! The King of All-In as I call him. B# to some, it’s Ben Sharp. The former TwinsTown man has returned for Brankholm Brae providing all with a sharp dose of reality, bass galore and angelic vocals.
Yep, tunes sound banging… we’ve all put in good work.
Ben Sharp, bass guitar and vocals
Although when it comes to the good, the bad and the ugly of TwinsTown, the B-Sharp man doesn’t stand alone in the good category. Who can forget Donald and Stuart saving Jim on the bridge in the Wölves’ video for Animal.
You are my fucking hero… a life saver! [Donald to Billy].
Donald Mackay, lead vocals and guitar
Last night a DJ saved my life… yes, I can remember when Billy was a DJ. He played one of my office parties at Murrayfield and had a longstanding residency in the classic Somewhere Else famously run by the late Jim Kirkpatrick and Bob Dick. I wonder what those two toun legends would say about TwinsTown now. It probably doesn’t bear thinking about.
The more I listen, the more I like it.
Joe Graham, PR and photography
Brankholm Brae does grow on you. Arguably the title track more than any other. I just can’t get Brankholm Brae out of my head, it’s indie pop gold from the very first verse…
Track 12 Brankholm Brae is unashamedly sweet and sentimental. Donald and Stuart issue an open invitation to visit and stay at Brankholm Brae, their home. It brings a tear to my eye thinking of the lonely twosome heartbroken, their kind invitation dashed on the rocks by Covid-19’s social distancing.
Kindness is the best and there’s tons of it whenever you visit Double Trouble at the Brae. I can testify to it personally and I won’t mention the neighbours.
With the album sorted thoughts are turning to music videos now.
Do you have any ideas for a video that aren’t like a David Lynch meets Quentin Tarantino on acid collaboration?
Billy George, manager and vocals
Personally, I like vampires and cowboys.
Everybody loves a cowboy! We need to do a western for Wrath of the Rum. We can use Erin’s horses.
Stuart Mackay, lead vocals and guitar
Wild, wild horses, I hope.
As well as videos, thoughts are turning to gigs, streaming or at least live recordings.
I think Ben needs to play the bass for the first two it would be like The Beatles without John Lennon playing those songs without your guitar parts Duke, especially Spitfire [Donald to Harry].
Donald Mackay, lead vocals and guitar
As I mentioned previously, I’ve been tuning into Stevie Agnew’s Sunday Sesh on Facebook Live. Food for thought. I can tell TwinsTown are hungry, itching to get going, on something or another.
Absolutely love you and your playing… [Harry to Ben].
Harry Dixon, bass and lead guitar
Videos, gigs, and of course thoughts are also turning to singles. That really will be a difficult choice. Billy was considering Johnny Depp for the first single but…
I might change my mind in the morning though. Such is the fluctuational appeal of this wonderful collection of songs.
Billy George, manager and vocals
I’m the same as Billy, there’s just so many good tunes that there really is no obvious first single. At the moment I favour Dive In which is track 7 on Side Two.
Anyway, we’re almost at the end… of the previews, only the previews.
I think the songs speak for themselves, Joe… I like folk guessing what they are about.
Stuart Mackay, lead vocals and guitar
Aw aye, thanks for that, Stuart. Now you tell me, AFTER I’ve written the 12 wee previews. Grrr!
Only joking, I think everyone has their own idea of what a song is about. It actually doesn’t matter what the writer or writers intended. One of the beautiful things about music is that one song can mean different things to different people.
Music for me, and I like music.
You’ll never guess… it’s only Brankholm Brae, the stunning debut album from Dunfermline indie rockers TwinsTown.
Sometimes your brain just runs wild, thoughts flashing through your mind, you know, a frenzy.
Turning Japanese – The Vapours
Every Day I Die – Gary Numan
Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
Be My Girl (Sally) – The Police
St. Swithin’s Day – Billy Bragg
Pictures of Lily – The Who
Pump It Up – Elvis Costello
My Ding-A-Ling – Chuck Berry
Fingers – Pink
Bed Bugs – TownTown
Sometimes you just have to make a list. A top ten even. It’s in no particular order mind. TwinsTown are No.1 not No.10, but it’s just random anyway. Certainly nothing anyone might want to hide from their mum and dad.
Bed Bugs is a song about mental health: the importance of it and occasionally, or sometimes more than occasionally, the things we do to keep ourselves sane. Check out the chorus…
I love the bridge too. We can all relate…
Arguably, Bed Bugs provides the most engaging intro of all the songs on Brankholm Brae. It’s both quirky and cute. The song continues in the same vein as the lead guitar takes us into a bouncy tune with the trademark TwinsTown call and response vocals used to full effect.
Look out too for the equally subtle and gorgeous backing vocals from Billy George, Ben Sharp and Ellie George. After her introductory appearance on Big Heart, I think I’m right in saying Bed Bugs is Ellie’s second outing on Brankholm Brae.
I hope her fellow backing singers, only her dad and boyfriend, won’t mind if I say Ellie gives good “Oooo’s”. I can’t even spell Oooo’s. The last time Stuart passed me the mic Mark jumped out of his piano stool like a scalded cat and chased me away. That’ll be the end of my singing career.
Back on topic, Bed Bugs is over far too soon. T’here’s an impatient urgency, a rush and a push towards the climax. I didn’t say pull.
Despite it’s brevity, I predict it’s going to be a classic. Bed Bugs is the TwinsTown song for TwinsTown fans… like me!
Fred Flintstone and Clint Eastwood are hard acts to follow, but Bed Bugs goes in hard, standing up to the pop reference challenge with the rat pack and Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and the twins’ grandad. 50p each way on Dean Martin.
Four exclamation marks to end this one. Oaft! There’s some pent-up emotion going on and no mistake.
Just one song preview to go now, the title track, Brankholm Brae. There’s going to be no pent-up emotion for the final track. It’s all released. There won’t be a dry eye in the house. Tissues at the ready, please.
We can’t keep it undercovers forever, it’s the album most likely to, it’s Brankholm Brae.
Dive In delivers a spritely start to Side Two of Brankholm Brae, the stunning debut album from TwinsTown.
The song was created when Donald Mackay, Ben Sharp, and Ben’s two friends, were jamming. Ben had the chords but had to leave. Donald offered to write a song with Ben’s chords, and Dive In was almost done and dusted when Ben returned.
It’s funny how the best songs can take the shortest time. I was talking on here recently about Phil Oakey of the Human League and Giorgio Moroder writing Together in Electric Dreams in just 10 minutes. Later, Oakey complained, albeit tongue in cheek, that Human League songs taking weeks or months enjoyed less chart success.
I first heard Dive In via Facebook Live. It was an impromptu performance in Harry’s back garden, and I loved the hook, “…plenty more fish in the sea,” which was added by Stuart Mackay to fully complete Donald’s earlier work with Ben’s chords. Great effort, Team TwinsTown!
Side One ends with the optimism of Big Heart and Dive In opens Side Two with a similar look at the upside of love and romance.
Musically, the song is tight. It pushes along at pace, a steady, unrelenting pace all the way to the bridge, before climaxing with guitar, keys and drums finally breaking out. It’s both conventional and satisfying. It’s TwinsTown plays pop.
Team TwinsTown Talk
Last night band manager Billy George aka Big Daddy gave the band a boost via WhatsApp.
He said: “You know what lads. I genuinely think this album [Brankholm Brae] is the best I’ve heard in many a year. I’m not saying this lightly. I’d like to congratulate each and every one of you. I’ve listened to it 3 times in a row with headphones on and it’s just an unrelenting work of joy. ❤️❤️”
“It’s got a bit of everything. Sacks full of melody, great lyrics, beautiful harmonies, awesome beats, booming bass, jazzy keyboards and walls and walls of guitar genius.”
Needless to say Big Daddy’s love was returned in spades by all.
Happy days for TwinsTown.
You know it, it’s Brankholm Brae, the stunning debut album from TwinsTown.
Today TwinsTown reveal their cover art for forthcoming debut album Brankholm Brae and it’s a typically brilliant painting by local Dunfermline artist, and friend of the band, Jack Paton. We’d like to send a big thank you to Jack, his effort and support is very much appreciated.
The work, painted specifically for Brankholm Brae, follows the theft of Jack’s original take on TwinsTown’s twins Donald and Stuart.
Jack’s earlier work featuring Stuart and Donald (as shown above) was stolen from Dunfermline High Street. For years now Jack has been adding colour to the auld grey toun by strategically placing art in the centre of Dunfermline.
A friend told me, “you’re nobody in this toun until you have a Jack Paton,” needless to say she reached for her mobile phone to prove that her famous fizzog does indeed appear in a Jack Paton.
Unfortunately, I don’t have that one in my phone, but I do have Pars fan Andrew Carnegie and The Skids’ and Big Country’s Stuart Adamson.
Here’s more of Jack’s art and I’m sure the boys will love this.
My favourite Jack Patons are of Billy Connelly and if you look carefully below you might spot the man himself, toun legend, Jack Paton.
For the back cover of Brankholm Brae we’d like the full band photographed; Harry Dixon, Wayne Robertson, Mark Guyan, Donald Mackay and Stuart Mackay. However, with lockdown and all the Covid-19 restrictions I have not managed a single shot of the full TwinsTown line up, nevermind one with their backing singers, TwinsTown manager Billy George, Billy’s daughter Ellie and former TwinsTown member Ben Sharp.
Billy is planning a vinyl release for Brankholm Brae but with everything going on we don’t have a date yet. Hopefully it will be 2021. Just for Billy I’ve photoshopped a mostly black and white alternative album cover. I like to call it 52 Years A Par. Well done for supporting the band, Billy. You’re a star!
Thanks again to Jack Paton. To view and buy Jack’s art please click here: Art by Jack Paton.
I’m sitting in the flat above Tappie Toories, thinking about Stuart Adamson writing Big Country songs up here. Now I’m thinking if Harry doesn’t arrive soon we’ll be doing the interview doon The Glen or on the benches opposite The Old Inn. It’s 5.15pm and I’m lonely. Now I’m wondering if we can have a drink outside after six. I think we can but only until a minute past midnight on boxing day.
This is 2020. Five days before Christmas. I had a braw lunch at The Carnock Inn today. Steak pie with two tins of Irn Bru. My social inhibitions have not been lowered for a very long time. News just in, Police Scotland have no plans to establish checkpoints or road blocks at the border. Now I see Celtic celebrating the quadruple treble in an empty stadium. Despite setting his lawyers on the BBC, Tyson Fury is still in the running for Sports Personality of the Year. You couldn’t really make this up.
Where is Harry!?
News just in, Harry’s daughter Frankie is finishing her ice cream. I fetch the tins from the fridge. It’s the benches for us.
Harry the big bad bassist bangs the door. The lights on Bruce Street are beautiful reminding me things could be worse. Thankfully TwinsTown are Covid-19 free. Cree Spowart who lives on Bruce Street told me this year’s lights are a tribute to Dunfermline’s weaving industry. My mum left school to help with the war effort and became a weaver at 15 years of age.
Anyway, the twins in TwinsTown keep telling me they’re in a rock ‘n’ roll band and I need to make them appear all rock ‘n’ roll. That means less blethering pish about whatever. Well, I say twins, Donald is the particular one. Stuart doesn’t give a monkey’s what I write.
“Right Harry, what’s rock ‘n’ roll about you?”
He looks surprised. I’ve surprised myself. I’m angry.
“C’mon then,” I continue, “sitting on a bench at the corner of Maygate and Kirkgate drinking a can of Tennents, rock ‘n’ roll, aye!?”
“Fuck AYE!” he replies.
“You should be in Tappies now, playing to a heaving crowd of 114, or at least a polite, sanitised, socially distanced, reduced capacity 25 all enjoying table service, with both doors open for maximum ventilation. Do you feel robbed?”
“Aye, totally, but we’ll think of a funnier answer than that.”
Ten minutes later…
“I’ve no funny answer, but as a serious answer, I do feel frustrated. We have an album [Brankholm Brae] in production and limited opportunity to promote it.”
Harry braved the cold, scooped a bottle of wine, and told me his role on Brankholm Brae is bass guitarist, and occasionally lead guitar. His favourite bass line is Dive In, an upbeat track about bouncing back after heartache.
“I tried to add texture to Dive In’s bass line by avoiding first position root notes and aiming for greater complexity, whilst keeping it true to the spirit of the song,” explained Harry.
Wow, the wine is potent.
Harry goes on, “I like playing Bed Bugs on a high register. It’s not difficult but it’s fun to play. As is Say Goodbye to the Summer, where no one complains when I crank up the distortion pedal.”
Harry’s catchphrase is “flare it!” as he is notorious for flaring his guitar pedals, anytime, anywhere, any angle, and any song.
Harry loves recording in the studio. It’s obvious. Yet his shyness kicks in.
“This is going to sound like a Mr. Men book,” complains Harry as he clams up.
“What Mr. would you be, Harry?”
“Mr. Flare It!” Harry fires back.
His shyness gone, he shows me his new tattoo. ‘Flare It!’ on his chest. Mark, Stuart and Donald have the same. It’s male bonding gone bananas.
Hoping for a hard-hitting question, “I hear you’re a big fan of Danny Dyer, is this true?” I ask.
“No, I prefer Sean Bean, in Sharpe, and Ronnie Scotland.”
In other important matters, I wonder who is Harry’s favourite Tappies bar tender. Apparently, it’s Shaunski aka Shaun Manuel Mitchell who was famously hospitalised after falling off the monkey bars in a local swing park.
We’ve been sat on these benches for three hours. I’m freezing. We’ve had a few drinks. You can probably tell.
“We need a sensible finish,” I suggest, hopefully.
“We didn’t finish talking about my favourite track. It’s Spitfire. I get to show off my guitar skills on it,” replies Harry, “and I totally flared it!”
So goes the opening line of Hollow Horse by The Icicle Works. It’s bound to fill our manager, Billy George, with good Christmas cheer. I know it’s one of his favourites. I think I’m right in saying that, under the guise of Honk Promotions, Billy booked lead singer Ian McNabb for a brilliant gig at PJ Molloy’s.
There was a technical issue during the first four songs and Ian McNabb walked off. Issue resolved, McNabb returned from the green room and started the gig anew. He played the first four songs again, continued on for ages and brought the house down.
I remember it being really loud for a lone singer/songwriter. No bad thing when the sound quality is top notch, which it was once the technical was fixed.
The chorus of Hollow Horse is memorable too.
The feel good factor for Wayne…? I’m thinking Jump by Van Halen.
Aztec Camera recorded a very gentle cover version of jump and Wayne can choose.
I’m torn over a selection for Mark. I’m thinking piano, keys, synthesizers, the mellotron and “the fucking Jennings” as Mark calls his favourite instrument at Robin Evans’ Tpot Studios, Path of Condie.
The Door’s Light My Fire or People are strange, The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever or Lady Madonna, or Baba O’Riley by The Who? No, I’ve got it, for Mark it’s A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum.
As the BBC have shown us this Christmas, changing a famous Pogues song, it’s okay to butcher other people’s lyrics. Here’s my alternative chorus for Procol Harum’s classic.
I know Kirsty MacColl sang “haggard” instead of “faggot” on Top of the Pops and a few years ago Shane McGowan couldn’t be arsed arguing about it. However, Fairytale of New York is a classic and MacColl is singing in character; a marginalised and bitter character. In the voice of that character, the lyric is true. The BBC = lyric police.
Rant over, it’s Donald time!
Okay I made a wee change there too. MC Hammer’s Hammer Time has been compromised. Anyway, my actual choice for Donald is of course Elton John, but not Sacrifice, oh no, it’s I’m Still Standing.
Yes, Donald is still standing – no thanks to Stuart.
Talking of Stuart…
Yes, you can count on toun legend Stevie Agnew to put a smile on Stuart’s face.
Last but not least, Harry. Last Christmas is too obvious a choice. Staying with George Michael I’ll pick Careless Whisper for The Duke.
Wayne told me that George Michael wrote Careless Whisper and added Andrew Ridgeley to the songwriting credits to ensure his Wham! band mate never had to worry about money.
C’mon Donald and Stuart, fingers oot! None of us want to worry about money either.