About The Twang
Blending the big guitars and emotional swagger of Brit-pop with a subtle but clearly felt dance-friendly pulse, the Twang rose to success in the U.K. after making a splash on the club scene and earning the respect of the music press. The Twang were formed in 2004 in Birmingham by singer Phil Etheridge and bassist Jon Watkin under the name Neon Twang. Inspired by guitar bands such as Oasis and the Streets as well as "Madchester" acts like Happy Mondays, Neon Twang were created as a reaction to the dance music that was sweeping the U.K. at the time, and the band developed a reputation for melodic but straightforward guitar-based rock and an unpretentious approach. (As Etheridge told a reporter, "I ain't going to sing about rivers, man. I don't live by a river. I live by a canal and there's bikes in it.") Neon Twang also became known as a band not afraid to get rowdy, and as violence among fans became increasingly common at gigs, the band shortened its name to the Twang to help shake off the negative side of its reputation. Adding a second vocalist, Martin Saunders, as well as Stu Hartland on guitar and Matty Clinton on drums, the Twang became a potent live act, and in the fall of 2006 the band came to the attention of the U.K. music press in a big way when James Jam, a writer for New Musical Express, and Edith Bowman, a DJ at Radio One, caught a Twang show in Birmingham. Both left mightily impressed, and Jam gave the band a major write-up while Bowman began playing the group's demos on the air.
By the end of 2006, a bidding war had broken out over the Twang, with B-Unique Recordings (home of the Kaiser Chiefs and Primal Scream) signing the band to a deal. The Twang's first single, Wide Awake, was released in mid-March 2007, with a second single, Either Way, following a few weeks later. Both records reached the British Top 20, and the group's first album, Love It When I Feel Like This, arrived in early June. In early 2008, the band enlisted former Killing Joke member Youth to help them record their second studio album, Jewellery Quarter. Named after the area in Birmingham where they now resided, the record entered the U.K. Top 20 in 2009. The first single to be released from it was Barney Rubble. In 2010, the group announced the departure of guitarist Stu Hartland and the arrival of replacement, Jimmy Jazz -- although Hartland continued to play live for the band. It was during this time that they began recording and writing with long-term friend and producer Jon "Simmo" Simcox. In 2011, they announced the details of the EP Guapa. Limited to 1,000 copies, it sold out almost immediately.
Toward the end of 2012, they released their third album, 10:20, and announced that original drummer Matty Clinton was sacked (due to theft of the band's equipment) and that Ash Sheehan was to be his replacement. The album -- which was funded by the band and recorded in their own studio -- was their most daring to date and featured a cover of Durutti Column's "Tomorrow." In March 2014, the band looked back to their former name for the title of their fourth album, Neontwang; for the tour supporting the album, they added guitarist Tommy Greaves (formerly of Wide Eyes) to the lineup. In May 2017, the Twang marked the tenth anniversary of Love It When I Feel Like This with a U.K. tour in which they played the album in full at every stop. Later the same year, the group dropped a pair of compilations, a collection of their best-known work titled Either Way, It's the Best of the Twang, and a set of B-sides and rare tracks, Subscription. ~ Mark Deming
- Birmingham, England