Name: Big Daddy aka Billy George.

Billy (centre) on a sunny day with, from left to right, former TwinsTown man Ben Sharp aka B-Sharp, daughter Ellie, son Jack and wife Claire.

As TwinsTown manager you must feel like Top Cat, the indisputable leader of the gang. Aye, the most tip top, Top Cat!

TC was effectual, intellectual, and a VIP… He did outwit Officer Dibble on a daily basis.

Who do you outwit on a daily basis? Well, not Donald and Stuart obviously, they’re far too cunning. I can’t even get them in my car within a half hour of arriving to pick them up.

Yeah, I noticed. Still, TC’s gang adored him: Benny the Ball (Donald), Choo-Choo (Stuart), Brian (Wayne), Spook (Mark), and Fancy-Fancy (Harry). Interviewing TwinsTown, I asked who was their favourite member. After votes for Ainsley Harriott and Tony Bellew were disqualified, you were the runaway winner. Another award for the mantle piece.

The boys say you boldly go where no manager has gone before… Is this a William Shatner joke!?

Oops, caught! Better scrub the one about Steve Bruce. Moving on. Is it true that you have a Wingnuts tattoo? Who have you been speaking to!?

Ellie and Billy George (looking nothing like William Shatner or Steve Bruce).

Oops. Moving on. Did Donald and Stuart really save the Pars by singing their own anti-Masteron song in Fabric after the Save the Pars gathering at The Alhambra? No, Jason Duffy saved the Pars playing Pars songs in The Old Inn on the day of the Pars march. The event was featured in the Scotland on Sunday as a double-page centrefold.

Jason’s a Celtic fan though… As are a few other well-known Pars fans.

Enough said. You’re a frontman in your own right with Honk. I’ve got your album, Eventually. What’s It All About and Love You More are great tracks, and I love you playing Home Fires Burning at the end of every gig… It’s a tribute to a great friend David Bell aka Diddyman who, like many during the miners’ strike, suffered at the hands of Thatcher’s police oppression. He was compensated, but later died in tragic circumstances.

Eventually, a quality album from Honk.
Billy fronting Honk at Leroy Day in PJs.

TwinsTown have a wee political edge too. I assume you approve… Oh, aye.

Your chilli sold out every table in Tappies on Friday and received rave reviews. Did you miss your true calling in life as a chef, and do you now regret music management? Everyday of my life.

I know you love it really... It’s heart over head when it comes to music and TwinsTown are well worth it. They’re excellent. New album, Brankholm Brae, is 12 of the best tunes I’ve heard in ages.

Heart over head,” you say. A bit like your politics… Don’t go there.

Do say: “You’re a better frontman than Richard Jobson.”

Don’t say: “The twins are stranded miles away with no money. You’ll have to sort them out again.”

Name: The Darkness aka Mark

The Darkness: don’t ask what he’s doing.

As a recent TwinsTown recruit I suppose there’s no point asking if you’re in with the Wingnuts or the Wolves. Here’s a pressing question though; are you Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook or Ready Steady Cook? Now you’re asking… it’s too difficult to decide, I think they’re both as good as each other.

A bit like Donald and Stuart… Aye, exactly.

I suppose that makes Big Daddy our Ainsley Harriott. Listen, as much as I love Big Daddy, he’s no Ainsley Harriott.

Maybe no, but he’s a mean chef. Top choices in Burler’s Diner include; Rump Steak with Peppercorn Sauce, served with skin on fries, and a medley of mangetout and steamed baby corn, or Serrano Ham, with pancetta, broccoli, and butternut linguine with creme fresh. I stand corrected. It sounds like Big Daddy is up there with Ainsley. I’d like to see Billy given 10 minutes and a quickie bag.

Some people might not know what a quickie bag is… Well, on Ready Steady Cook chefs are given a bag full of odd ingredients and they get just 10 minutes to create delicious dishes.

Now you know, Billy is a man of hidden talents. Do you have any hidden talents? I can climb a rope.

I see. Moving on. As a piano man yourself, have you heard Donald tinkling the keys whilst singing Elton John’s Sacrifice? Only very late at night and I was too drunk to remember.

There’s a hidden talent, you’re a diplomat! Aye, sometimes.

I suppose you have a dark side as well, hence the name The Darkness? Oh aye, you don’t want to hear about that.

What, darker than Donald, Stuart, Wayne and Harry? Yes, darker than Big Daddy too.

Oaft! I don’t know about that. Big Daddy is like Christian Bale from American Psycho and The Dark Knight. You’re more Ryan Reynolds from Deadpool and The Voices. Aw aye, The Voices, where he keeps Gemma Arterton’s head in his fridge for company. Aye that’s me! That’s why I’m called The Darkness!

When you put it like that, I guess Ryan Reynolds is darker than Christian Bale. Of course he is…

Do say: “Ready Steady Cook.”

Don’t say: “Did that quickie bag come out of your fridge?”

If you know TwinsTown at all, you’ll know they are nothing if not keen.

TwinsTown with Zena sans The Darkness.

Not that I can talk. I was nicknamed Mister Mustard by my trade union comrades. My old boss called me the “make it happen man,” and my IT colleagues gave me a leaving card showing a rottweiler chewing a bone above the words; JOE ‘BITES-YER-LEGS’ GRAHAM. I understood this to be a reference to both my football and my work. Apparently I was like a dug with a bone until the project was done.

It’s nice to see the band doing the same. The hard work goes on on debut album Brankholm Brae, as scheduled by manager Big Daddy aka Billy George, and in spare time work has begun on the difficult second album. You know pop mythology, the rock ‘n’ roll cliche; an up-and-coming band work for years on an explosive first album but stumble trying to follow-up on their initial success within a year or risk losing their currency. Even taking time can end in disaster. It’s known as Difficult Second Album Syndrome (DSAS).

The Stone Roses, The Second Coming (Geffen, 1994)

This is the pinnacle of DSAS. It even inspires an argument in Shaun of the Dead when Simon Pegg resists frisbeeing the vinyl to stop advancing zombies but Nick Frost wants it frisbee’d. Heavy nods towards Led Zeppelin couldn’t find critical favour and the Mancunians split up before they could record another note. On the upside, it gave us Ten Storey Love Song, an absolute triumph reminiscent of the Madchester sound on the band’s debut, featuring typically jangly guitars and warm harmonies. Riff-heavy and intense Love Spreads is another highlight.

Simon Pegg watches Nick Frost frisbee vinyl at advancing zombies in Shaun of the Dead.

Elastica, The Menace (Deceptive, 2000)

The eponymous debut sits proudly in my record collection. This does not. Like The Second Coming it was five years in the making and still failed to inspire. On the bright side, it didn’t compare itself to Jesus.

Terence Trent D’Arby, Neither Fish Nor Flesh (Columbia, 1989)

My pal Murray had a copy of D’Arby’s debut The Hardline According To…, and I used to play it. Murray moved into my house when his three house-mates eliminated him from the equation by deliberately moving from a 4 to a 3-bedroom rental. His housemates were risible, pretentious and all too self-important. Exactly like D’Arby’s second album. We frisbee’d it into a boby-building neighbour’s garden.

Guns N’ Roses, Use Your Illusion I & II (Geffen, 1991)

Not one but two successors to Appetite for Destruction, weighing in at an overblown two and a half hours. Enough said.

The Clash, Give ‘Em Enough Rope (Columbia, 1978)

I actually really like this, but the reviews were mixed, therefore it makes my list. Only at No.5 though as it’s pretty good by most standards, just a wee bit disappointing by comparison with the eponymous debut and the magnificent London’s Calling, The Clash’s third and best album by some distance. Highlights include: Safe European Home, English Civil War, Tommy Gunn and Stay Free.

Back to TwinsTown

Actually, I don’t want to call it the difficult second album. I’ll need to give it a working title.

FLARE IT!

Flare It is the obvious choice as it narrowly missed out to Brankholm Brae to be the name of TwinsTown’s debut album.

We currently us Flare It! as a slogan. Who knows it could be the second album.

Therefore, work on Flare It has begun. All socially distanced of course. We’ve gone hi-tech with video conferencing, online multi-user project sharing and the best audio quality available.

War with Myself

The first song completed for Flare It is War with Myself; a man lies in turmoil, his heid is bursting, his thoughts running amok, there’s only two hours before he needs to get up for work, yet he can’t get back to sleep. We’ve all been there. Have you gone to war with yourself about it? I think you probably have. It’s really annoying. I know I have.

Our sleep-deprived hero Hornet aka Donald Mackay chooses full contact martial arts for combat with his psyche. His very soul is at stake. His inner demons must be defeated.

Mixed Martial Arts

He remembers the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the most influential martial art in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, used by Royce Gracie to define mixed martial arts as a sport. Donald is now onto something…

Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. Gracie used Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to consistently defeat Shamrock winning UFC1, UFC2 and UFC4. They drew at UFC5.

Meanwhile, twin telepathy has Smackay aka Stuart Mackay sitting up in bed. He’s threatening kamikaze to save his bro.

The Wasp aka Wayne Robertson can’t help he’s stuck in an English asylum, Broadmoor. He probably couldn’t sleep either.

“One up, all up!” shout the twins. The Duke aka Harry Dixon and The Darkness aka Mark Guyan are rudely awakened, dragged from their pits, and bundled into The Mystery Machine aka big Barrett’s camper van. They’re breaking Wayne out tonight.

The Mystery Machine sans big Barrett.

TwinsTown v Nazis

The action rages from Tappie Toories to Bratislava where there’s Nazis to chase with Lady Gaga doing the krav maga (it’s so tempting to sing magaga at that point) arguably the most efficient and deadly martial art. It was developed in late-1930’s to fight Slovakia’s Nazis and is famously used by the Israeli Defence Force as well as Willie Doig when manager at The Old Inn.

Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee is on viagra (I didn’t see that coming). I won’t dare tell you what Jackie Chan gets up to. This is no Shanghai Knights. Thank goodness.

Shanghai Knights.

Not so difficult…

War with Myself is the full TwinsTown monty. For me it’s up there with The Wrath of the Rum, the Wingnuts classic making a well deserved return to appear on Brankholm Brae. It’s maybe even as good as Spitfire, my favourite, most rockinest track on Brankholm Brae. It’s a great start to Flare It (working title) the maybe not so difficult second album.

Name: The Wasp aka Wayne.

The Wasp.

Alongside Bruce Watson of The Skids and Big Country, I’ve been known to do an impression of Hale and Pace. Funny you should say that, Harry and I have been known to go on the road as a Hale and Pace tribute act.

I had heard. Bruce and I did Hale and Pace’s ‘The Management’ in Tappie Toories last year. Harry and I were just boys when we emulated Gareth and Norman, but I imagine we were better than Bruce and you. We could do ALL the comedy characters: from the sexually-inappropriate children’s TV presenters, Billy and Johnny, to The Man Who Can’t Take Anything Seriously.

Was the latter played by Harry? How did you know that!?

Oh, just a wild guess. Do you know that Ainsley Harriott appeared alongside Hale and Pace? He plays William and walks on holding a blow-up doll moments before the dominatrix appears to whip Billy and Johnny. No, that’s news to me.

Well then, you’re obviously not the top Hale and Pace impersonators you claim to be. It’s just a story Harry and I tell to impress girls.

Tribute act or no, I assume you’re fully committed to TwinsTown now? Oh aye, I quit the band every now and again, or leave our WhatsApp group, but that’s just to keep Donald and Stuart on their toes.

How is the debut album Brankholm Brae sounding? You mean Flare It!

Sorry I forgot about Harry and you preferring the name Flare It! Whatever it’s called, how’s it sounding? It sounds okay.

C’mon, Brankholm Brae is better than okay, it has your unique drumming all over it? True.

Do say: “You remind me of The Who’s Keith Moon.”

Don’t say: “Is Wayne in the band today?”

It’s a beautiful drive from Dunfermline to Tpot Studies in Path of Condie. Stopping in Kinross for square sausage and bacon rolls only added to the pleasure. I was buzzin’ and looking forward to seeing TwinsTown in action.

Path of Condie. Actual mode of transport may vary.

I was lucky. Doing public relations and photography gave me the second household spot as each of the five band members arrived, laid down their tracks individually, and departed. It made for a long two days but, boy oh boy, it was fun.

I watched all the divas taking tantrums, making unforced errors, losing their nerve, losing their minds and some even lost their hair! I’m sure I could see baldy bits. Embrace the baldness, boys. It’s the price of art.

Prohibited: no baldy bits allowed, say paranoid pair. Be like sound man Robin and buy a hat.

And debut album Brankholm Brae is going to be a work of art. There’s no doubt. We reviewed the final take on each track and when it worked, it worked.

Donald and Stuart Mackay know how to write a catchy tune. TwinsTown manager Big Daddy aka Billy George described one track, Welcome to My World, as REM on speed. I liken Spitfire to Primal Scream giving it laldy singing, “get your rocks off, get your rock off, honey”.

Before the two household restriction, I attended two TwinsTown rehearsals at Scott Gilbert’s Penthouse Practice Suite, above the 7 Kings at 2a Chalmers Street. At the first rehearsal, Zena and I were laughing, singing Wolves lyrics to the new tunes. Wolves being the twins’ former band, after starting out with The Wingnuts. The old lyrics just seemed to fit and we left thinking TwinsTown hadn’t really progressed musically. Fresh lyrics, same tunes we thought.

Zena and Stuart at Toastie’s Penthouse Practice Suite.

By the second rehearsal I attended the songs had developed. It took hours upon hours of work. I know, I was there to see it. When TwinsTown arrived at Tpot Studios to record the album the songs had improved immensely, and I watched as sound engineer Robin, socially distanced in a sound proof booth, tinkered with his mixing desk and offered advice to each individual performer. It’s a process.

The end result is going to be worth the effort.

Of course, I’m bias. I’m the band’s PR and photographer. I booked the Wingnuts to play East End Park in support of Pars United, back in 2012 when we all bought and saved Dunfermline Athletic. Beatnic Prestige headlined and I remember Albo giving the sonic twins a guitar masterclass in the green room. They learned well.

Albo, sporting his blue Fred Perry, giving another masterclass with The Stevie Agnew Band at The White Gates.

I also booked the Wolves for The Creepy Wee Pub. It was their first gig and we made the whole upstairs a stage. What a gig that was!

Wolves after their first ever gig at The Creepy Wee Pub.

I also booked The Mackay Twins to play Tappie Toories, their first gig under that name. I’m sure the old TwinsTown featuring Jimmy Clouston played Tappies too. They just turned up and gigged.

The Mackay Twins play Tappies.

What I’m saying is, I’m a fan. I always have been. As a longtime fan I can honestly say the twins’ new material is their strongest.

My old Wingnuts favourite Wrath of the Rum sits on Brankholm Brae alongside 11 brand spanking new tracks. Wrath deserves a return. It’s a classic. It’s not my favourite anymore though. Spitfire has that honour now. I love it, especially the twins’ Winston Churchill impressions. It’s inspirational, it’s funny, it’s TwinsTown. It’s what the boys are all about.

Spitfire a stunning track from Twinstown’s debut album Brankholm Brae.

Please don’t think TwinsTown is all about the twins. As Harry Dixon tells us, we’re all brothers. Shame you didn’t remember that, Harry, when you got Tony Bellew onto me. The world boxing champ called me an uncultured swine! I’ll be giving the Gypsy King a call, or are you best pals with him too…

I give up!

Seriously though, I used to watch Harry playing songs about his maw buying substandard t-bags from charity shops and despite the strong lyrics his guitar work was inept. Several jugs of lager too many.

Sober Harry is brilliant, on both bass and lead guitar.

To promote Brankholm Brae we’ll be producing a ‘making of’ video and additional ‘in the studio’ videos showing each band member performing a track individually. I’ve already edited Harry’s video, playing bass on Big Heart. It’s impressive, although look out for his wee hussy fit at the very end, and listen on as Robin counsels him over the headphones.

Wayne is also outstanding. He’s like THE toun drummer in Dunfermline. He was a stalwart with The Falcons for years. I think he’s also featured with The Wingnuts, Honk, Beatnic Prestige, The Modern Faces, and the list goes on. He reminds me of Keith Moon from The Who. He’s steady, keeping the beat, steady, steady, and then he goes off unexpectedly. He improvises. He makes every drum track his own.

Wayne drums like Keith Moon from The Who.

New member Mark keeps calling me Bowser ‘cos I can drink 20 cans of T without paying a visit. Nae wonder we call him The Darkness. He’s a bad man and the less said about him the better.

Only joking, Mark does a mean Top Gun impression and he’s a big Ainsley Harriott fan. These are meaningful credentials in TwinsTown. His piano and keyboard work is next up in the studio, so more about The Darkness will follow in due course.

Mark: The Darkness. He’s a bad man and loves Ainsley Harriott.

Big Daddy says he’s planning on old school vinyl for the release of Brankholm Brae. I know everyone says this, but it’s true, vinyl does have the edge over digital. Digital wins on convenience. Vinyl wins on quality and aesthetics and everything else.

Big Daddy aka Billy George, in the red shirt, with his own band Honk (original lineup).

For my part, I’ll be posting here, taking pics and working on the video The Making of Brankholm Brae, plus individual In The Studio vids for each of the famous 5.

Joe Graham aka Bowser doesn’t like having his picture taken.

Flare it!

Twinstown say Flare it!

THE Mackay boys are back in town as the guitar-wielding brothers announce their debut album.

Donald and Stuart Mackay lead from the front in the Dunfermline five-piece’s 12-track record Brankholm Brae.

Donald and Stuart Mackay

When gigs return, they intend to “flare it” to the masses with the help of guitarist Harry Dixon, drummer Wayne Robertson and Mark Guyan on keyboard/piano.

Featuring indie pop melodies mixing with rock vocals, the studio album will be released after the recording process is finalised.

They hope to get that done and dusted as soon as possible but the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down their efforts; keeping all but the Mackay twins (who shared a household) apart for long periods.

Donald said: “Working within COVID-19 guidelines for the past few months has caused us to be both careful and innovative, however we do plan to complete the recording, and stay safe.

“I’m excited about TwinsTown and our forthcoming album. I think we are all looking forward with hope and just a little expectation.”

Harry also added: “We love Dunfermline and we hope Brankholm Brae will be loved in both Dunfermline and beyond.

“When we are allowed to gig, we intend to flare it!”

Brankholm Brae will be released across streaming services in due course.

Originally published in The Dunfermline Press on 1st October 2020.