State meets Anto and Ray from Twinkranes in the library bar of Dublin’s Central Hotel. It’s an old-fashioned, carpety sort of place, full of high-backed chairs, table lamps, and bookcases. It somehow doesn’t feel like the most appropriate place to meet members of a band who describe themselves as a ‘psychedelic power trio specialising in zone-out progressive popmusik.’ We should be meeting these lads in the basement of a disused tinned meat factory in East Berlin or something.
At least there’s no difficulty in picking them out from the tourists and suits who have braved the most miserable night of the year for a drink in town. Anto, the group’s drummer and vocalist, stands out in particular with his shining blonde mop, spirit-level straight fringe, and angular looks. If we were a betting magazine who didn’t know who he was, we’d lay a safe tenner on him being in a band. We’d also have a punt on him being Scandinavian or German with those features, and would definitely pull a double-take if we heard him talk in the friendly northside accent with which he introduces himself. He certainly looks the part for a guy in a band who play ‘popmusik’, or as he later puts it ‘psychedelia – oddball sounds with a pop sensibility.’
‘Oddball sounds with a pop sensibility’; it’s as good a descriptor as any for Twinkranes mercurial debut album Spektrumtheatresnakes, a dark quicksilver rush of a record that welds the weirdest bits of your druggy uncle’s far-out vinyl collection to seething rhythms that rework but never flat-out appropriate elements of motorik and Kosmiche Krautrock. With song-titles like ‘The Market Of The Bizarre’ and ‘High Tekk Train Wreck’, Spektrumtheatresnakes wears its oddness like a t-shirt that says -Dorothy, we’re a long way from singer-songwriter night in Doyles’. Yet, despite the full-on psychedelic weirdness, the album is never inaccessible, a quality which may well have piqued the interest of Twisted Nerve’s Andy Votel who signed the band (the inlay of their album rather stylistically reads that it was recorded over three days ‘at the request of Andy Votel’, making him sound like some sort of Warholian patron and Twinkranes a mysterious, possibly dangerous band that tickled his fancy).
Ray (synths and production) explains how the signing came about. ‘We played a night down in Kennedy’s. Some friends of ours used to run a night called -Maximum Joy’ there. We played the Christmas party and they had Andy Votel over to DJ. He saw us and seemed to buzz off the show. It was a great night, a great gig.’ Anto adds ‘he asked us when we were next playing and came and checked us out with the intention of picking us up and doing a record with us, and that’s what led to the album being recorded. I think he thought that what we were doing fitted in with the Twisted Nerve aesthetic. They deal in psychedelia, oddball grooves, like crazy left of centre bands that you’ve never heard of. So we’re lucky in that what we’re doing fits with what they do.’
It seems that Twisted Nerve is the perfect home for Twinkranes, and an ideal network (‘a spidery network’ as Anto describes it) for getting their sound out to people who appreciate that sort of thing, people such as journalists writing for the NME, the Guardian and Mojo who have all given the album sterling reviews. After plugging away at the Dublin scene for five years, Anto and Ray seem under no illusions that it’s often the right connections with the right people who can suddenly afford you that sort of exposure. Indeed, they give the impression of feeling genuinely blessed to have been picked up by a label such as Twisted Nerve. They are also excited by the opportunity it affords them to put more time into tricking about in the studio, and the chance to tour and meet all-time heroes such as Simeon from visionary sixties synth outfit Silver Apples who they supported in Dublin.
Anto explains that with ‘Spektrumtheatresnakes it’s very much the live aspect that shaped the record. When we went into the studio a lot of it had already been developed live. What we recorded was pretty much a live set. Next year it would be great to spend some solid time in the studio, work on music that way you know? Also, they [Twisted Nerve] never dictate. We can pretty much work on what we want. I mean we’ve recorded an hour and a half of grooves and they are going to put that out on some library releases. They’re just mad for getting releases out really.’ If an album as fine as Spektrumtheatresnakes is the product of three days studio time for Twinkranes, then the prospect of them being let loose in a studio for an extended time is an exciting one.
In the meantime, they plan to tour the album and perhaps play a few festivals in Europe. So, if you end up mangled, lost, and zoning out at Primavera next summer while watching a pale drummer with an intense gaze hammering out relentless cosmic rhythms and singing about witches, throw him and his bandmates a psychedelic wave- sure it’s only Anto and the lads from Twinkranes.
Photo: Loreana Rushe