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The Twang are an indie rock band from Birmingham, England, formed in 2001. The band have released three studio albums - Love It When I Feel Like This (2007), Jewellery Quarter (2009) and 10:20 (2012). Comprising vocalist and guitarist Phil Etheridge, bassist Jon Watkin, vocalist Martin Saunders, guitarist Stu Hartland and drummer Matty Clinton, the band garnered national acclaim when the influential NME magazine produced an article on music acts in the West Midlands (which also featured fellow West Midlanders Ripchord and The Enemy). Ex touring member Barry Fratelli is a member of the Scottish rock band The Fratellis.
The band's debut single, "Wide Awake", was released on 19 March 2007, with their debut album Love It When I Feel Like This (released on 4 June 2007) being produced by Gavin Monaghan, known for his work with Editors, Ocean Colour Scene, Robert Plant, Scott Matthews and The Holloways. The album reached #3 in the UK charts.
The Twang's second album, Jewellery Quarter, was released 3 August 2009 and reached #20 on the UK album chart. The album was produced by Neil Claxton of Mint Royale at Blueprint Studios in Salford. Third album 10:20 was released on 29 October 2012, reaching a chart placing of #52.
Lead singer Etheridge is an Aston Villa supporter, Saunders is a Birmingham City supporter whilst the rest are West Bromwich Albion supporters as stated in a Live Lounge session on BBC Radio 1 presented by Jo Whiley.
Formation and Neon Twang years (2004–2007)
The band was formed in Quinton, Birmingham by Phil Etheridge and Jon Watkin after the pair studied music technology together at Kidderminster College. The Twang originally performed in and around Birmingham under the name "Neon Twang".
During the "Neon Twang" period, the band's sound was very similar to how it is now, some very early track names being "See It Thru", "Big Day Out", live favourite "Shoot To Kill", "Time Waits", "Push The Ghost", "Aimless With An Aim" and the reggae influenced "Fake ID". "Aimless With An Aim" and "Fancy That" later appeared as B-Sides to the band's first single "Wide Awake". Demos of early these Neon Twang tracks can still be found online and are much beloved by fans.
In the early days prior to Stuart Hartland and drummer Matty Clinton joining the group, lead singer Phil Etheridge and bass player Jon Watkin swapped instruments on numerous "Neon Twang" tracks ("Cloudy Room", "Push The Ghosts" and "Aimless With An Aim" being surviving tracks from this period). Etheridge frequently played bass guitar and sang, whilst Watkin played lead guitar. The addition of Hartland in late 2005 enabled Watkin to take over bass duties permanently and allowed Etheridge to perform songs live with much more enthusiasm, although the frontman's trademark dancing was still evident whilst playing bass.
Love It When I Feel Like This (2007–2008)
After numerous meetings with major record labels The Twang eventually signed a deal in 2007 with Independent record label B-Unique, home to Kaiser Chiefs, The Automatic and The Ordinary Boys at the time.
In April 2007 they had their first NME cover and two months later they were the subject of a BBC Radio 1 documentary. Throughout early 2007 the band were frequently hailed by the NME as "Britain's Best New Band" and walked away with the Phillip Hall Radar Award at the 2007 NME Awards.
Their debut single release, "Wide Awake" was released in both CD and 7" format on 19 March 2007. The record reached number 15 in the UK singles charts and was followed up by a second single "Either Way" on 28 May 2007 - the band's highest charting single to date which reached number 8 in the UK singles charts. "Either Way" proved to be the breakthrough that The Twang needed and the single received heavy radio play and was championed by BBC Radio 1 DJs such as Edith Bowman, Jo Whiley and Chris Moyles.
Their debut album Love It When I Feel Like This was released on 4 June 2007 amid much media hype. The record did not disappoint and landed in the UK album charts at number 3. Through 2007 - 2008 the band toured extensively and performed sold out shows most notably to a capacity show at London's Brixton Academy where they played to 5,000 fans and a headline slot on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury.
Towards the end of 2007 the band released a new single "Two Lovers", the music video for which featured the band alongside iconic British actor Danny Dyer and actress Jaime Winstone as a pair of dysfunctional sweethearts.
The band also worked with The Streets on a remix of their hit single "Either Way". The remix also featured rapper Professor Green.
In February 2008, The Twang had their University of Surrey gig filmed and later broadcast on Channelbee. However this footage is no longer available due to Channelbee's demise.
Jewellery Quarter (2009–2010)
In January 2008, following a rollercoaster year The Twang decamped to the isle of Anglesey, where they hired a private cottage and quietly began writing what would eventually be their second studio album. The band have described this period as a magical time in their career.
In March 2008, The Twang packed their bags and jetted out to Granada, Spain, to record their second album with Killing Joke bassist and music producer, Youth, credited with recording The Verve's iconic album Urban Hymns. Back in the UK they enlisted Mint Royale whiz kid Neil Claxton and finished recording at 'Blueprint' Studio's in Salford, Manchester, home of Mercury Prize-winning band Elbow. A month later the album was complete and the title Jewellery Quarter was attached to it, an homage to the area in Birmingham in which the band were now resident. The artwork to Jewellery Quarter was the idea of critically acclaimed Wolverhampton artist Temper who, unknown to the band was also situated in the Jewellery Quarter. The piece depicts the band all pulling a huge anchor, the symbol of the "Jewellery Quarter". The artwork, painted entirely with aerosol cans, stood at nearly six feet in height.
On 7 May 2009, The Twang announced a free download of album track "Another Bus", along with the album details and title, Jewellery Quarter.
The first single proper to be lifted from the album was "Barney Rubble" and featured a sample from classic 1990s dance track "Give It Up" by The Goodmen. The promotional video featured the band in the idyllic hills of Montenegro driving classic cars and motorcycles whilst mixing with locals.
The Twang's songs have been used on various TV programmes. "Twit Twoo", taken from the album Jewellery Quarter, was used on Match of the Day. "Barney Rubble" was used on ITV when they showed the group standings and results after, before or at half-time in their football matches. "Back Where We Started", also taken from Jewellery Quarter, was used on ITV as part of their football shows/matches. "Reap What You Sow" from Love It When I Feel Like This was used on Katie Price: What Happened Next and "Ice Cream Sundae" has also been used at various times on the BBC.
Live footage of the band's sold out show at Birmingham O2 Academy in 2009 was used in the video for the album's second single "Encouraging Sign", which was released on download only.
Guapa EP and 10:20 (2011–2013)
In January 2010, The Twang made an official statement regarding Stu Hartland, the band's guitarist, stating that the band and Hartland were no longer working together and that the band were working with a new guitarist Jimmy Jazz. Stuart Hartland rejoined the band during 2012.
In summer 2010, The Twang began writing and recording new material with long-time friend and producer Jon 'Simmo' Simcox. With the introduction of Simcox on guitar, the Twang realised a fresh new sound and direction. They quickly recorded demos, and then later in 2010 recorded final versions of the songs due to be released as The Twang's third studio album.
The Twang announced on 1 February 2011 via Facebook that they would be releasing a new EP titled Guapa on 14 February 2011 containing four brand new tracks. The physical release was limited to 1,000 pressings and sold out almost immediately.
The band announced on 21 August 2012 via an email to their mailing list that they would release their third album, entitled 10:20, on 29 October 2012. The title came from a note that an irate studio neighbour had left sellotaped to their studio door. The band also announced that original drummer Matty Clinton had been sacked following the theft of £10,000 worth of studio equipment, and was being replaced by Ash Sheehan.
There is also a German band called "The Twang". Since the German band (a country band formed in 1999) owns the rights to the name, both bands release albums under the same band name which often leads to confusion.
N E O N T W A N G (2014–present)
On 14 January 2014, the band announced a new album, N E O N T W A N G, to be released on March 10 2014, again via Jump The Cut Records. The title refers to the band's previous name when starting out. On the same day they revealed a new video for single 'Larry Lizard' to support the LP. The band also started working with fellow Birmingham based, Wide Eyed guitarist Tommy Greaves who was to accompany them on there February 2014 Tour.