I’m sitting in the flat above Tappie Toories, thinking about Stuart Adamson writing Big Country songs up here. Now I’m thinking if Harry doesn’t arrive soon we’ll be doing the interview doon The Glen or on the benches opposite The Old Inn. It’s 5.15pm and I’m lonely. Now I’m wondering if we can have a drink outside after six. I think we can but only until a minute past midnight on boxing day.
This is 2020. Five days before Christmas. I had a braw lunch at The Carnock Inn today. Steak pie with two tins of Irn Bru. My social inhibitions have not been lowered for a very long time. News just in, Police Scotland have no plans to establish checkpoints or road blocks at the border. Now I see Celtic celebrating the quadruple treble in an empty stadium. Despite setting his lawyers on the BBC, Tyson Fury is still in the running for Sports Personality of the Year. You couldn’t really make this up.
Where is Harry!?
News just in, Harry’s daughter Frankie is finishing her ice cream. I fetch the tins from the fridge. It’s the benches for us.
Harry the big bad bassist bangs the door. The lights on Bruce Street are beautiful reminding me things could be worse. Thankfully TwinsTown are Covid-19 free. Cree Spowart who lives on Bruce Street told me this year’s lights are a tribute to Dunfermline’s weaving industry. My mum left school to help with the war effort and became a weaver at 15 years of age.
Anyway, the twins in TwinsTown keep telling me they’re in a rock ‘n’ roll band and I need to make them appear all rock ‘n’ roll. That means less blethering pish about whatever. Well, I say twins, Donald is the particular one. Stuart doesn’t give a monkey’s what I write.
“Right Harry, what’s rock ‘n’ roll about you?”
He looks surprised. I’ve surprised myself. I’m angry.
“C’mon then,” I continue, “sitting on a bench at the corner of Maygate and Kirkgate drinking a can of Tennents, rock ‘n’ roll, aye!?”
“Fuck AYE!” he replies.
“You should be in Tappies now, playing to a heaving crowd of 114, or at least a polite, sanitised, socially distanced, reduced capacity 25 all enjoying table service, with both doors open for maximum ventilation. Do you feel robbed?”
“Aye, totally, but we’ll think of a funnier answer than that.”
Ten minutes later…
“I’ve no funny answer, but as a serious answer, I do feel frustrated. We have an album [Brankholm Brae] in production and limited opportunity to promote it.”
Harry braved the cold, scooped a bottle of wine, and told me his role on Brankholm Brae is bass guitarist, and occasionally lead guitar. His favourite bass line is Dive In, an upbeat track about bouncing back after heartache.
“I tried to add texture to Dive In’s bass line by avoiding first position root notes and aiming for greater complexity, whilst keeping it true to the spirit of the song,” explained Harry.
Wow, the wine is potent.
Harry goes on, “I like playing Bed Bugs on a high register. It’s not difficult but it’s fun to play. As is Say Goodbye to the Summer, where no one complains when I crank up the distortion pedal.”
Harry’s catchphrase is “flare it!” as he is notorious for flaring his guitar pedals, anytime, anywhere, any angle, and any song.
Harry loves recording in the studio. It’s obvious. Yet his shyness kicks in.
“This is going to sound like a Mr. Men book,” complains Harry as he clams up.
“What Mr. would you be, Harry?”
“Mr. Flare It!” Harry fires back.
His shyness gone, he shows me his new tattoo. ‘Flare It!’ on his chest. Mark, Stuart and Donald have the same. It’s male bonding gone bananas.
Hoping for a hard-hitting question, “I hear you’re a big fan of Danny Dyer, is this true?” I ask.
“No, I prefer Sean Bean, in Sharpe, and Ronnie Scotland.”
In other important matters, I wonder who is Harry’s favourite Tappies bar tender. Apparently, it’s Shaunski aka Shaun Manuel Mitchell who was famously hospitalised after falling off the monkey bars in a local swing park.
We’ve been sat on these benches for three hours. I’m freezing. We’ve had a few drinks. You can probably tell.
“We need a sensible finish,” I suggest, hopefully.
“We didn’t finish talking about my favourite track. It’s Spitfire. I get to show off my guitar skills on it,” replies Harry, “and I totally flared it!”
As TwinsTown manager you must feel like Top Cat, the indisputable leader of the gang. Aye, the most tip top, Top Cat!
TC was effectual, intellectual, and a VIP… He did outwit Officer Dibble on a daily basis.
Who do you outwit on a daily basis? Well, not Donald and Stuart obviously, they’re far too cunning. I can’t even get them in my car within a half hour of arriving to pick them up.
Yeah, I noticed. Still, TC’s gang adored him: Benny the Ball (Donald), Choo-Choo (Stuart), Brian (Wayne), Spook (Mark), and Fancy-Fancy (Harry). Interviewing TwinsTown, I asked who was their favourite member. After votes for Ainsley Harriott and Tony Bellew were disqualified, you were the runaway winner. Another award for the mantle piece.
The boys say you boldly go where no manager has gone before… Is this a William Shatner joke!?
Oops, caught! Better scrub the one about Steve Bruce. Moving on. Is it true that you have a Wingnuts tattoo? Who have you been speaking to!?
Oops. Moving on. Did Donald and Stuart really save the Pars by singing their own anti-Masteron song in Fabric after the Save the Pars gathering at The Alhambra? No, Jason Duffy saved the Pars playing Pars songs in The Old Inn on the day of the Pars march. The event was featured in the Scotland on Sunday as a double-page centrefold.
Jason’s a Celtic fan though… As are a few other well-known Pars fans.
Enough said. You’re a frontman in your own right with Honk. I’ve got your album, Eventually. What’s It All About and Love You More are great tracks, and I love you playing Home Fires Burning at the end of every gig… It’s a tribute to a great friend David Bell aka Diddyman who, like many during the miners’ strike, suffered at the hands of Thatcher’s police oppression. He was compensated, but later died in tragic circumstances.
TwinsTown have a wee political edge too. I assume you approve… Oh, aye.
Your chilli sold out every table in Tappies on Friday and received rave reviews. Did you miss your true calling in life as a chef, and do you now regret music management? Everyday of my life.
I know you love it really... It’s heart over head when it comes to music and TwinsTown are well worth it. They’re excellent. New album, Brankholm Brae, is 12 of the best tunes I’ve heard in ages.
“Heartover head,” you say. A bit like your politics… Don’t go there.
Do say: “You’re a better frontman than Richard Jobson.”
Don’t say: “The twins are stranded miles away with no money. You’ll have to sort them out again.”
Today, in advance of their forthcoming debut album, Brankholm Brae, indie rockers TwinsTown have launched their new website.
“During these gig-free times, it’s another great way for us to keep in touch with our audience,” explained Stuart Mackay, who fronts the 5-piece with brother Donald.
“Our ever-growing audience,” chimed Donald, keen to point out the increasing popularity of the band on Facebook and Instagram. The TwinsTown Twitter page is a recent addition and hasn’t caught on yet.
“We’ll continue to use Facebook and Instagram as usual, and now Twitter too. Our website will be an addition, with all the social media links available.
“Let’s hope TwinTowners share freely.”
Talking of sharing freely, I’ve been sharing a few with the boys in Tappie Toories, the band’s spiritual home, as it was for Big Country when the popular Dunfermline boozer was owned and operated by frontman Stuart Adamson and his wife Sandra. I drank in Tappies with Stuart behind the bar or playing tunes. I remember reading an NME article around that time listing Big Country as the third biggest act in the world behind U2 and Simple Minds respectively.
I mention this as TwinsTown don’t just share Stuart’s old pub, they share his drive and ambition too. On one of the nights, Tappies hosted band member Harry Dixon’s birthday party and the social distancing didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.
I asked the more reserved members, Wayne Robertson and Mark Guyan, if TwinsTown share a wee bit of Big Country’s talent. Drinks were set down for a round of serious nodding. I think I heard a couple of “Oh! aye!” remarks but difficult to know for sure when sitting 2 metres away.
Please watch this space for more TwinsTown updates.