The Twang of a Britpop revival

EMMA LEE No, your ears aren’t deceiving you. Hot on the heels of Britpop, baggy is having a revival. Emma Lee digs out her Joe Bloggs hoodie for a chat with Jon Watkin, bassist with the band heading the charge back up the charts – the Twang.

EMMA LEE

It was only a matter of time before it happened. In the way that pop music has a habit of recycling and reinventing what's gone before, we've already had a Britpop and rave revival. And now it's baggy's turn to be given a Noughties makeover. In the late Eighties and early Nineties “Madchester” bands like the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses created a new genre by fusing indie guitars and dance beats. And its fans wore a uniform of Joe Bloggs hooded tops and flares.

Now Brummie five-piece the Twang are spearheading its revival - and it's about as far away from Britpop II's arty angular guitars + disco beats + asymmetric hair indie formula as you can get.

And with their hedonistic catchphrase “everybody's 'avin it”, there's a hint of Oasis swagger added to the mix too - vocalist Phil Etheridge has already been compared to Liam Gallagher.

The debut single, Wide Awake, is set to storm the charts this weekend, and with critical acclaim being heaped on them from all directions - from the NME, naturally, who got very excited when the band's demo landed on their desk, plus the broadsheets and the tabloids.

The band only got signed, to B-Unique, in December after a record company bidding war, involving fancy free dinners.

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Unsurprisingly, bassist Jon Watkin regularly has to pinch himself to make sure he's not dreaming. He's still getting used to being interviewed.

Speaking from the very glamorous location of a branch of PC World (on a lunchbreak in the middle of recording their eagerly-anticipated album) he says: “We played with Jamie T, and I remember seeing him do one of these phone interviews. Now I can't believe that I'm doing it. It's amazing. Everything's amazing.”

He does mention the dreaded words Alan Partridge when asked whether he's looking forward to the show in Norwich. (“Isn't that where he's from? We love watching him.”), but it won't be his first visit to Norfolk.

“I went to a wedding in King's Lynn with my girlfriend, but I was only invited to the reception and so I went to the pub. I was a bit the worse for wear when I got there and I fell asleep,” he says.

Jon and singer Phil grew up together in Quinton, Birmingham, and fell in love with music from an early age. Oasis was a band they strongly identified with - routed in community, passionate about football and in love with the idea of rock'n'roll and was the inspiration for forming their own band.

“Me and Phil just started writing these songs about five years ago,” Jon says.

Vocalist Saunders was drafted in, followed by drummer Matty Clinton. Guitarist Stu Hartland joined just over two years ago and the Twang was born.

Thanks to their friends, their gigs were always riotous occasions and the built up a following throughout the Midlands.

“There isn't really a Birmingham scene, as such, though, I don't think. People still think of Slade and that was, what, more than 30 years ago. Or UB40.”

A show they played at Birmingham's Bar Academy in October was a watershed for them, thanks to two influential audience members - NME writer James Jam and Radio One presenter Edith Bowman.

And when 2007 arrived and critics were making their annual list of tips for the top, The Twang seem like a dead cert. Not that Jon seems particularly fazed by it all.

“It's mad,” he says simply, as he heads back to the studio.

t The Twang play Norwich Arts Centre on April 2. The show is sold out. They also play the Waterfront, Norwich, on May 24. Box office: 01603 508050 or www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk

t www.thetwang.co.uk

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