The Twilight Sad are a Scottish band with an unfortunate name. Currently on their 11th tour of America, they've had handfuls of audience members show up dressed as vampires, clearly unaware that this Twilight Sad has nothing to do with the other Twilight, which is, for entirely different reasons, equally sad. I caught up with singer James Graham before their show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last week at a bar across the street. I was expecting an affected twee lad in a cardigan to tell me about his poetry fetish, yet James was as affable and hilariously candid as they come – a strapping guy with a penchant for swearing and a good laugh at the expense of his bandmates or stray child that happens to walk up to the table mid interview.
VICE: How did you get the name?
JAMES GRAHAM: It was one of those things where we didn't have a name and the drummer came in and said "how about the Twilight Sad?"
It seemed a bit wanky and a bit pretentious to be honest but it was one of those ones that stuck because we couldn't think of anything better.
Your drummer is writing a rock opera, right?
Aye. I don't know how much I'm allowed to talk about it. It's called Even Dogs Carry Knives. He's been working on it for ten years. Nobody has heard a note. I think he should quit the band and focus on it! I'm kidding.
You guys have somewhat literary song titles, huh?
We're smarter than we look, that's certainly true. But no… on our earlier albums there's been lines from our favorite movies. No specific reason.
Switching gears. What's Buckfast?
It's fortified tonic wine. Made by monks in Devon, I think. It has fifteen cans of Coke's worth of caffeine in one bottle. It's brilliant. I really like it. It's supposed to be the cause of 50% of Glasgow's crime rate or something.
Have you heard of Four Loko? It's a similar thing that we had over here.
Is that a regional thing? We tried "Mad Dog 20/20".
(At this point, a baby walks up to James. The mother runs over and scoops him up before apologizing).
They don't even start them that young in Scotland.
I was going to ask it for a cigarette.
Right? I swear I'm not the Father.
Where were we. Where did you find the Mad Dog?
We went to a proper American college party, with frat boys and all that. We'd seen it in the films. We thought it was all a joke. But it's not. It's very real. We were like "What the fuck is going on?" We basically took the piss out of them all night but they ended up loving us because we're all maniacs asking where Stifler's mum was, right. I thought that kind of scene only happened in the movies. We had no idea it was a very real thing. There's a whole other side to that story where I fell down a ten foot hole and scraped up me whole backside.
How different is Scottish drinking culture than American?
Very different. Although Britain in general has taken a lot of American culture on. Do you know what a "NED" is?
I am one.
Ha! I mean… "Non Educated Delinquent." They're some of the funniest people I've met in my life. They're really snappy. They've got all these words, like. It's a new fuckin' language.
Can you teach me a few words?
Patter. It means "he's funny." Like, "good patter, mate." Ballbag. "You're a ballbag" means "You're a scrotum," obviously. Cunt means something different over here. In Scotland it's a bit of a catch-all word. Like I can say "you're a good cunt" and it would mean "you're a great guy." I can say "What a cunt!" and have it mean something derogatory, like.
How would you explain that to a feminist here in America?
I wouldn't! I'd probably lose. It just has a different connotation over here in America. You're not calling someone a vagina. A woman would never want to hear her bodily part described as that, and I'd probably lose in a battle with a feminist in America if I tried to explain that… but it's a good word, anyway. I've said it in passing a few times in the States and people have left the room, y'know? But, I mean, we use it in the lyrics to one of our songs, right. It just doesn't carry the same meaning in Scotland.
Pumped. Means to get fucked. In a good way. Like, would you like to get pumped, m'lady? What else… Oh. Swally. That means "would you care to go to the public house and get a beverage with me?"
I think that's good for now.
Aye. I could do with another drink. Need to get swalleyed.