All Roads Leads to … Sheffield!

Who knew that the ‘Highway to Hell’ ended in Sheffield of all places? Well, at least that was the case for North East based rockers Twister.

The quartet took a gamble and tossed their hat into the ring to battle it out with a whole raft of talent, that resulted in the band taking the much-coveted winning prize in HRH’s Highway To Hell final at the O2 Academy Sheffield last August. That trophy included a deal with none other than Off Yer Rocka Recordings.

HRH Mag caught up with the band during a break from recording their Off Yer Rocka Debut at Parr Street Studios to get the lowdown on their new album, their feelings about being part of the HRH family and why they chose Liverpool as the destination to record their new album.

You are here in Liverpool at Parr Street Studios where you’re recording your debut album. First of all, I just wanted to ask as a band how long have you been going and how did you all meet?

Stevie: I’ve had the band for nearly 16 years now, which is just ridiculous. But, we’ve had various line-up changes and setbacks along the way. We’ve got a line-up now which is exactly the way we want it to be. So we’re trying to do everything the right way now, we’re trying to do it properly.

So how long has this current incarnation of the band been together?

Stevie: Jack has only been with us since February last year. So, it was kind of a bit of a baptism of fire for him. It was just kind of learn these songs, we’ve got gigs in six days, get on with it. So yeah, we just threw him in and away we went really.

So how would you best describe your sound?

Stevie: We always class ourselves as a high energy rock band. But there are elements of all sorts in there. We’re all fans of classic rock stuff so you can hear that influence. A lot of what we do is kind of based on modern pop music as well. So it’s all sing-along. It’s all chanty.

Jake: Everything has got to be a hook hasn’t it. If it’s not catchy, it doesn’t stay. It’s got to have that element to it where everything is memorable.

Stevie: We rewrite choruses six or seven times until we are happy with them. It’s the only way you get it right, so to speak.

When you’re driving in your tour van what would we expect to hear? What would you be listening to? What’s on your playlist?

Stevie: There’s a lot of Biffy Clyro in there. There is a playlist on Spotify called Twister Tunes. A bit of Steel Panther, a bit of Motley Crue. AC/DC, Zeppelin, Lizzy. You’re a big Press To Meco fan, so that’s in there. I’m a bit of a country fan, so there’s some Zac Brown on now and again. Bits of all sorts.

You are here in Liverpool at Parr Street Studios. What was it about this particular studio that appealed to you the most? I mean obviously, there’s a lot of history. There are some great bands have recorded here, just looking at these gold disks on the wall and seeing The Smiths, Coldplay, Elbow, The Zutons you are certainly in good company. But what was it about this particular studio that made you want to come and record your album here?

Stevie: We came here about 10 years ago. We got commissioned to rewrite somebody’s song. They sent us the song and we did whatever they wanted us to do with it and they commissioned us to record it here. So, we came for only a day, but it was like throwing the gear up, get it down as quick as we can. And I remember just being in the room and going, I love this place, I love the vibe of it. And actually, the results from just a day here was really good. So, we knew that we wanted to do a little bit more.

And then when we were recording ‘Young and Affected’, which was a single we released last year, we did that here. So, we did that, and we said okay, let’s do a couple of tracks and then we’ll release one and save one. And then we’ll do that for a while until whatever happens.

And then when it was coming around to doing the album, it was, okay, well there’s only one place we want to do it, we love being there. So, this time it was let’s just go all out. And we’ve done things like recorded drums here and recorded guitars elsewhere, things like that to save money, but this is just an amazing place to work. So we wanted to do the full project here this time.

Jake: I think the main thing about this place is that the live room is unreal. I think before we’ve gone down the track of having a dead room at times and there are no reflections. And you add it in with the computer and the plugins but it’s a bit sterile. If this is not the sound you want, then you need to go somewhere else. But this is the sound we want – it’s a nice room to get that big rock sound.

Stevie: It’s mainly the drum sound, isn’t it? I mean you can close mic a guitar cab anywhere in the world. You can do it in your kitchen cupboard, but you can’t get the drum sound that you can go in that room. So that’s the main thing that we want to come here for.

You guys are part of the HRH family now. I know you won the Highway to Hell competition last year. How was that for you?

Stevie: It was a strange one because it wasn’t even on our radar. We weren’t even thinking about it.

Jake: We weren’t that aware of it. We got asked to be in it. We were a bit hesitant at first. We are always a bit wary about the battle of the bands, it’s unchartered territory. You never really know what you are getting yourself into until it’s there.

Stevie: And we’ve done stuff like that before. And it was always one of the things of do we do it? And then we thought you know what? Why not? Let’s give it a go. And at the time all we were doing was writing. We were still gigging, but there was no set target on what we were going to be doing – so let’s give it a blast. And then as the rounds were going on, we thought this is starting to gather a little bit of pace here. And then by the time we got to the final, in Sheffield, it was ridiculous. We had something like 140 people come down and see us, which was amazing.

Jake: We we’re invested in it by the end – considering we started not knowing about it.

Stevie: It was the be-all and end-all, in the end.

Jake: We sort of had it in our heads that we planned everything from the moment we got there to the moment we packed up and went home. And everything went to plan. Considering the people who have won it in the past like Stone Broken, Massive Wagons and Mason Hill it’s great company to be in with regards to the NWOCR.

So, would you say that HRH has been important in giving you guys a platform?

Stevie: Massively important, it’s not just about obviously the competition and everything else. It’s the people that work and are involved with HRH – they’ve been so supportive of us. And the reason that we’re doing things the way that we are right now is us putting our faith in them as well. So, we are saying this is our product, this is absolutely the best thing that we’re capable of making. Please do something with it. And I think (working with) people like Geoff, Toby, Jonni and yourself is just tremendous. So hopefully once we’ve made this product, we can get it out there and get everyone to buy into what we’re trying to achieve.

Twister’s new album ‘Cursed and Corrected’ will be released via Off Yer Rocka Recordings on 13th November, 2020. To kick off the promotion in style the album will be available to pre-order alongside the release of the first single “Call To Arms” on Friday 28 August followed by another three singles. Along with every pre-order, fans will receive the instant grat track “Natural Survivor.”

Words and Photo by Adam Kennedy