Twist had a dream. A dream where the perfect fusion of Nirvana’s guttural sincerity and excitement mixed with the pure, relentless, guitar-bruising assault of Sonic Youth. Only in this way could vocalist Emma Fox’s anger and frustration make sense, her middle-finger to the world; especially the men of it; could be more than a moment of futile frustration. It could even be creative, it could even be beautiful. Not bad that, really.
With new EP, ‘14’ (out October 1st on 1970 Recordings), the Birmingham four-piece come closer to achieving this dream than they ever have before. Live, meanwhile, they’ve never been less than compelling! Relentless touring has left the Twist engine running especially smoothly, so what better to do than to catch up with them as the latest tour hit Lincoln, and ask them their thoughts on culture, alienation, boredom and, erm, pornography…
Emma, why did you change the colour of your hair?
Emma (guitar / vocals): (laughs) Because I was bored.
What’s your proudest achievement as a band?
Emma: Well, we’ve been through a lot of shit in the past five years. Managing to get through all that and all still be together. Recently we sacked our manager and we’re doing things for ourselves for the first time; learning how to do it, learning from our mistakes and getting through it together. We do everything for ourselves. Like the Waltons. (laughs)
How do you make the perfect sangria?
Emma: One bottle vodka, one bottle red wine, one cartoon of orange juice, one cartoon of cranberry, two lemons, one lime, loads of sugar. Pour it into a bucket full of ice, stir it, drink it.
And why is cider and black the best drink on earth? Emma: We don’t drink it, we only drink it on tour. You can only get lager and cider. We’ll usually drink vodka. Vodka is better.
Gin is better than vodka.
Vanessa (guitar): No way!
Emma: Last time I drank gin I spewed in my Nan’s bedroom. On her bed. On the phone. And you know the phone wire’s curly… Well, the next morning, urgh.
Vanessa: No way…
What are you scared of?
Vanessa: Spiders, any time man. Horrible things.
Emma: Being in this position in two years time.
So where do you want to be in two years time?
Emma: on a decent record label, selling enough records to make a comfortable living.
What’s the deal like with 1970, is it just one single?
Kelly (bass guitar): Yeah, there might be a chance of an album, though, maybe.
Emma: We are going to start recording an album the end of this year. 1970 have said that they’ll pick up on it if nobody else does. They’re spectacular, they’re absolute darlings. But we’re in talks at the moment with a couple of American labels. But I’m not going to say who.
What was it about Nirvana that first made you want to pick up a guitar?
Emma: The realness of it all, you know what I mean? Nirvana do rock and Metallica were just sickening. You think of everything that was pre-Nirvana, it was pretty grim. There weren’t too many good bands. Well there were, but I’m talking like The Doors, shit that was before our time, anyway. But that’s it, they just rock.
Where does all of the anger in Twist’s songs come from?
Emma: If you lived like we do, you’d know. Seriously, we’re all on the dole and we’re like living off £30 a week, we have to get our studio out of that, our tampax…
Emma: Yeah, fags, hair-dye… It’s hard, man. Seriously, it’s fucking hard. I just bought my first bra in three years the other day. From Asda.
Vanessa: You think of yourself, you think of any other job where you don’t earn anything, it’s 24/7. You’d be like, ‘No, I ain’t doing this…’. But there’s like something inside you that like makes you do it.
Emma: We’re in for the love of the music.
What was the last book you read? Was it any good?
Emma: I don’t read. No, actually, Escort.
Emma: The 'jazz' mag.
Vanessa: Ian Rankin, man, Heart’s Bleeding. Wicked book, everyone’s got to read it.
Emma: Fucking Reader’s Wives. Men's World, particularly high class, Men’s World. I like saggy baps. I’m only jokin', don’t print that!
[Uhm. Sorry. I couldn’t resist abusing the power...]
Is it true that you deliberately set you to make Twist all-female?
Emma: It started when I was thirteen years old and I was in a music class – there were about four lads in my class who wanted to play guitar. I was into Nirvana and I was like, ‘I want to play guitar.’ And my music teacher was like, ‘No, Emma, get out your keyboard.’ And I was like, ‘Fuck you, I want to play guitar…’
I had to prove in front of my whole class that I could play guitar, you know. And even then I had to take my own guitar into school. School wouldn’t let me use their equipment, they were all anti-girls playing rock music. So from that moment on I was like, ‘Oh, fuck you, I want to start an all girl band’.
The more people say to me, ‘You’re shit’, or that I can’t do it, the more fuel in my fire. It makes me more determined to do it. If someone says I’m good, I’m liable to hit him. I’ll think you’re taking the piss out of me.
What’s the best make out album ever made?
Vanessa: What was the last album you did it to?
Emma: No, I’m telling him that.
Vanessa: Go on.
Emma: No I ain’t.
Vanessa: Go on…
Emma: No I ain’t… It’s been built up too much. I don’t usually have music on when I’m doing it, it’s usually like the ‘News at Ten’ or something…
Leanne (drums): The last album I fucked to was, erm, oh cool, Janis Joplin...
Emma: Well, erm… Oh no, I ain’t saying that one either…
Kelly: Oh, go on…
Emma: Well… Everyone will think I was making lurve and I wasn’t. But Massive Attack, ‘Teardrop’ was on repeat. And, believe me, it wasn’t slow sex, you know what I mean... But, no. Probably Prodigy, ‘Fat of the Land’.
Vanessa: Ha ha.
Emma: Some funky beats, but you’ve to be careful, because you find yourself doing it in time to the beats. You’re like fuck that man, [sings] ‘Der-der der-der. Smack my bitch up…’.
But no, I don’t usually have music on when I’m doing it.
Is great art born of suffering?
Emma: What? No.
Kelly: You’ve got a lot to say…
Leanne: But saying how much you love someone, and how much you love something, and how beautiful you think something is. It’s not suffering.
Emma: It’s very physical. (laughs)
The kind of thing we do is very, very rough – fuck off – kind of music, but like – give us a shit band – Coldplay, they’re very touchy feely…
You can’t call that great art.
Emma: I ain’t, man, yeah. I was just trying to say…
Oh, fucking hell. Leave me alone. Carry on.
Just one more, how shit are Kittie?
Emma: Appalling. We went to see Kittie on Monday. We got in on the guestlist – I ain’t paying for that shit – and they walk on stage: ‘You motherfuckers, welcome to the fucking UK, motherfuckers!’ I was stood there like that. Stood up, straight, like fuck off. All that fucking stadium rock, man…
Kelly: And they were gobbing everywhere…
Vanessa: She spat on herself, man, it was fucking awful.
Emma: Seriously, it was just fucking rank. But they’re good musicians, they’re good at what they do, just the music is not very appealing to me. Each to their own. And anyone who gets up there and has a go, fair play, they don’t deserve to be frowned at. But they are very stadium rock and full of bullshit so, there you go.
Kelly: I like the style of music and everything, but personally I don’t think they do it very well. There’s metal done well and there’s metal done shit…
Who does do metal well?
Kelly: I think that Pantera are pretty good at it, Tura Satana is what Kittie do but a hell of a lot better. I think Tairrie B is a million times the lady that she [Morgan Landers] is. I think Kittie had a lot of stage presence but even with bands like that, they do have songs I like. But there was nothing that I walked out with, I just walked out with a pounding headache…
And, with that, the support band finishes, the stage beckons the band. I walk out afterwards with sublime songs in my head and a glow in my heart. No headache.