Sam McTrusty

Tinkling Queen’s keys

Photography: Tom Griffiths

Inspired by Springsteen’s lyrics and Coldplay’s guitar: The Twin Atlantic’s singer picks the tracks that left their mark on his band’s latest album

Great Divide

Sam McTrusty was watching live on YouTube in 2012 when Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space to Earth. When Baumgartner got back to the control room, McTrusty and eight million other viewers heard a song playing in the background: Free, by Twin Atlantic, in which McTrusty plays rhythm and sings lead.

The Scottish rock quartet came to public attention in 2011, with their second album, also Free, and tours with top-flight bands like Blink-182. With their third album, Great Divide (Get the album here!), a record with 12 storming anthems ranging from heavy rock to heavy-hearted, the band hope to make their major international breakthrough. Here, McTrusty reveals the songs that brought Twin Atlantic together for Great Divide.

Kanye West - Black Skinhead

“This came out when we were right in the middle of recording in Los Angeles. The track is so abrasive and pushing the boundaries in terms of what people expected from Kanye. We were inspired to experiment with our producer, Jacknife Lee, who helped turn our recording process upside down. He made us tune our guitars differently. It was refreshing.”

Coldplay - Fix You

“Jonny Buckland from Coldplay is one of our favourite guitarists. He isn’t a virtuoso, he uses space really well and he never overplays. In Fix You, he plays only four notes, but when that guitar line comes in in the song, it’s an emotional punch. He knows when to play and when not to. That’s something we aimed for on our new album.”

Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road

“This is a masterpiece in using imagery and music and lyrics, then connecting
all together to create this cinematic thing. You don’t just hear the song, you feel it. Springsteen sings about escapism, wanting to look into the future and being excited about it. When I’m stuck on a lyric, I listen to this song for inspiration. It always helps.“

Pearl Jam - Just Breathe

“When I began listening to guitar music, I couldn’t get my head around Eddie Vedder’s vocals. To me, they were just too muscular. Now I am a fan of Pearl Jam’s music. This song has so much emotion in it, but it’s not cheesy. That’s a difficult thing to do, especially as a lyricist it’s easy to use clichés. Vedder finds new metaphors, uses his own language.“

Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

“We used to listen to this song to learn mixing tips for recording in the studio and we played it at concerts before we went on stage, to get the audience in the right mood. It’s quite something to live up to, but that’s why we did it. On the new album we used Freddie Mercury’s actual piano, the one he used to record this classic.”

SMART SPEAKER - Music sounds better with you: Aether Cone

This speaker takes song requests by voice command and uses them to create an individual music programme by making playlists from online sources. But what really makes it great is its ability to learn. Which songs do you repeat, and which do you skip? It saves all that info to learn your tastes and make better song choices.

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