Sam McTrusty: Twin Atlantic’s Rockin’ Scotsman
You Can’t Go Home Again. It was the appropriate title for Thomas Wolfe’s classic 1940 novel, but not a phrase Twin Atlantic, one of Scotland’s most beloved and popular rock bands, necessarily agrees with.
Formed in 2006 when they were in their late teens, Twin Atlantic (fronted by lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Sam McTrusty, lead guitarist Barry McKenna, bassist/and keyboardist Ross McNae, and drummer Craig Kneale), spent a decade intentionally getting away from their hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.
McTrusty admits that he got into music as an 18-year-old because he wanted to escape the small town feel of Glasgow, hit the road, and see the big world that was out there. And he did. Famous for their high-energy live shows, Twin Atlantic toured extensively across Europe, America, Canada, Australia, and even Africa and soon became a must-see act at popular music festivals.
Twin Atlantic highlights so far include touring with a long list of notable bands including Blink-182, Smashing Pumpkins, Say Anything, My Chemical Romance, Biffy Clyro, and Taking Back Sunday. The band also won over legions of new fans by performing at Glastonbury, T in the Park, Belsonic, RockNess, and other notable music festivals. Their third album, Great Divide, reached #1 in Scotland and #6 in the UK charts. The album’s single, “Heart and Soul,” also won the Track of the Year from the Association of Independent Music Awards in 2014.
Other accolades include being nominated as finalists for Best Live Act of 2015 by the Association of Independent Music, and being named Best UK Band at the 2016 SSE Scottish Music Awards. In 2016 their fourth album, GLA (the initials of Glasgow’s International Airport), drew critical praise for the rock band’s return to its raucous roots. The album also landed number ten on Kerrang!’s “The Top 50 Rock Albums of 2016” list.
But after years of touring and exploring the world, all four band mates were ready to come back home to Glasgow. They were all seeking what they described as a “more normal life” and wanting to put down deeper roots.
The band converted their Glasgow rehearsal room into a recording studio and has been locked away recording their fifth studio album. It will mark the first time the band has recorded an album in their hometown. McTrusty describes the upcoming self-produced album as the most “hands-on” record the band has ever made in regards to Twin Atlantic’s overall sound and song selection. Even songwriting was much more of a collaborative group effort than in past albums.
The new album is schedule for release in early 2019; touring will resume as well.
In addition to providing a most powerful voice (that literally becomes the band’s fifth instrument), McTrusty, a Gretsch-endorsed artist, is responsible for the gritty, distorted rhythm guitar grooves that helps drive Twin Atlantic’s big, brash, and full-of-swagger sound.
And McTrusty gives a lot of credit to the versatility of his Gretsch Center Block guitars.
In a 2014 Total Guitar interview, McTrusty shared how pleased he was to discover that the new Gretsch White Panther (with a spruce center block) could handle exceptional gain and high volume onstage without feeding back. “That was the real reason I wanted to try it,” says McTrusty. “Playing live, I didn’t really have the thicker, creamier tone of a hollow body. It looks incredible, holds it’s tuning really well, and is strange how powerful it can sound as well as being really delicate. If there’s anyone questioning the fact that this sort of guitar can work in a heavier rock band, there’s your answer.”
Today, McTrusty continues his ongoing love affair with Gretsch Center Blocks. His go-to guitars for the stage, the studio, and songwriting are usually G6609 Broadkaster ® Center Blocks with Full’Tron pickups. He admits the new pickups make it an even more well-rounded, functional guitar. It’s just what McTrusty needs to play today’s rock: nice, classic Gretsch clarity and brightness AND nasty, aggressively distorted overdrive and fuzz tones. Nice and nasty; the best of both tone worlds for Twin Atlantic’s Sam McTrusty.
“Whispers” captures the essence of Sam McTrusty and the band, Twin Atlantic: impressive songwriting, riffs, vocals, energy – and attitude. Watch:
Main feature photo by Cameron Brisbane.