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Twist N' Shout

(An Interview With Emma - Taken From Black Velvet 19 - Feb 98)

By Shari Black Velvet

What does Birmingham have to offer when it comes to rock music? Anything? Or nothing? It's been a while since a band from the Midlands has made an impact on Black Velvet, but recently one did just that. So let the introductions take place... Meet TWIST, a female four-piece who have already supported Gold Blade and Stony Sleep and have been interviewed on the Saturday morning TV entertainment programme, Premiere.




Above: Twist's Second Single - Fantastically Titled 'Shari Says'



The band are fronted by Emma who is also the rhythm guitarist. Her partners in crime comprise of Leanne who plays drums and sings backing vocals, Lisa who plays bass and Vanessa on lead guitar. They are young hopefuls, all seventeen with the exception of Emma who is eighteen.

"Lisa used to be in another band" says Em, when asked if this was the first band for each of them. "She used to play guitar. But that wasn't doing anything. She was given the opportunity of playing with us. Even though she was a guitarist who had to play bass, she did it. Vanessa used to be in another band, doing what she does now, but that as well wasn't doing anything. Leanne's always been with me really, ever since I started up a band. I started the band when I was about 13. Lots of members have come and gone but me and Leanne have survived it all.

"It's only been Twist since it's been us four. We've been together about two years."

In that time the four girls have been able to find management in the form of Monday Morning Music.

"The studios where we practice, the guy who owns it walked in with this man in the middle of our practice and sat down. They said "carry on playing" and Mike then introduced himself after the song and said "I want to work with you". After we got the right members for the band, we signed a contract with them."

What constitutes the right members? What were you looking for? How does one fit the band?

"They had to get their priorities right. The band comes first - not your boyfriend, not going out and getting drunk. I mean, don't get me wrong - we all do that, but after we've done the stuff in the band. Putting the band first, basically. And no matter what anyone says you've got to go for it. Determination. We all gel together really well. If someone was to leave the band now, it wouldn't be Twist. Everybody puts their own little bit in. It's one big personality."

Emma confesses to being the main songwriter and being influenced by Madonna. Radiohead, Nirvana and Placebo have also been big influences as well as, believe it or not, Abba and Tom Jones!

The band were previously known as Scream, but as Emma explains "I didn't sing loud enough to carry the name off, so it seemed like a bit of a joke. It sucks really 'cause we could do it now but there are so many Screams in England. There are about nine!"

And there aren't any other Twists?

"There is another Twist but we're actually registered in The White Book. So that name is more or less ours, but until we release something, we can't actually say to that other band "you're not allowed to have that name"."

Twist have a bundle of songs, with more in the pipeline. Emma says it depends on the mood she's in on how easy it is to write a song, with the music being no problem, but the melodies throwing her more than anything.

"I know that that's what most people listen to and if it isn't good enough... It takes me about three weeks to get a melody for a song because I always think it's not good enough, and then I always end up going back to the first thing I did. It really does my head in but there you go. It drives me mad."

The band recorded a demo at Workshop Studios in Redditch, which is also where Manic Street Preachers recorded their New Art Riot EP early in their career.

"We've been twice. We also recorded two other tracks - one called 'Wish', one called 'Sweetness Is Bitter'. The thing is with me, we'll record something and I'm never satisfied. At the time I'll listen to it and get all emotional, hug everyone, cry and go "well done" and then later on I'll be "that's s**t, man."

Why come to Redditch?

"We wanted to work with Mark Tempest. He's so cool. He lets the music be real. Most people who you work with are "no feedback, turn the treble down" and all this s**t. Boring stuff. Whereas, you've heard the beginning of 'Cheap', there's a click and all that feedback. That's what I like. I love raw sounds."

"We heard about Mark through our manager. And I'd heard some of the bands he'd worked with, like The Wonderstuff and Brian May from Queen. So to work with him was really cool. You walk into the studio and there are pictures of him with Brian May."

Gigs. The girls have done a fair few.

"My first gig was at school" Emma says. "We were told that we had to wear school uniform colours - black, maroon and white. At the time I had long black hair and I put my hair in piggy tails. I wore black and white striped tights, a pair of para boots, a mini skirt and I think I had a maroon skinny rib top on. It was parent's evening and there was me, screaming my guts out, at 14 years old, looking a mess. All the parents were snobs, it was great."

Aha, a rebel at school...

"Oh God, I was always being told off. I didn't really play up, it's just that I always had something to say. Know what I mean? I'm not racist or anything but some of the Indians at school would have their nose pierced and I had my nose pierced and then the head teacher would say "what's that in your nose?" and I'd say "a nose stud" and get a detention for answering the question. I was chucked out of about four of my GCSE exams. Once for being drunk and a couple of times for turning up in normal clothes.

"The first gig at school wasn't as Twist. That was me and Leanne and two other people. Our first gig as Twist... I can't remember our first gig as Twist. When was our first gig as Twist?" Emma yells to her bandmember in the room. She can't remember either.

"I can't remember. We did one with Stony Sleep. That was brilliant. We sold them out which was even better. They stayed at our flat. They're mad live, really spacey. I love it.

"We also supported Gold Blade."

Highlight so far, though, would have to be appearing on the Central TV show, Premiere. It was aired on Saturday November 7th.

"That was brilliant. That was really cool. We turned up at the studio. Me and Lisa had just got back from Reading so we had really big hair! Absolutely stank, it was brilliant! All the cameras set up on the tracks and then it was just a case of 'Action, do your stuff" really. We had about three takes of the song and then we were interviewed about four times. Same questions but different answers every time! They edited it and I'm really pleased with it. I could get used to being on telly."

No nerves at being in front of the camera for the first time then?

"God, no. It was brilliant. I was nervous about watching it though. I couldn't watch it on my own. I had to phone my friend and make him come over to sit with me and watch it. I was so scared."

How did the appearance come about it the first place?

"I think Premiere contacted us."

Emma has no idea how Premiere heard about the band originally though.

"There are people here, there and everywhere who have heard of us though".

The day after this gig the band were doing a showcase gig in London for numerous record companies. Listening to their demo, I for one am confident that in the not too distant future this band is going to be signed and on their way to big things. And a lot more people are going to be hearing about them. Good luck guys.


The Twist Demo - In Their Own Words


"Cheap is about me actually! There's a girl who's got a crush on this bloke and she'd do anything for him but he's not going to treat her like a piece of s**t."

She Makes Me

"That's about me envying someone. It's really weird 'cause I wrote it about the other members of the band. It says 'she makes me sick'. Each one of them has something that I want. Vanessa's really dozy but in a sweet way. It's like 'ah', you want to wrap her in cotton wool. Leanne is so cool and chilled out and laid back. Lisa's just a nutter."


"Oh God... This is really depressing actually. About this time last year I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. I was put on antidepressants and seeing a psychologist and a counsellor, constantly cutting myself, smashing my room. My boyfriend at the time said he'd always be there for me no matter what and that he'd help me through it. Then at the worse point in that period, he left me. 'You said you'd always be there/You're not anywhere'."


"That's really about anything. It's saying I want to be a star. The chorus is 'I thought there'd be more to see/Who do you want me to be/I want it all - your star'. That's me saying to the audience "for God sake, please take notice of me. I want to be a star but you've got to tell me what you want from me so I can do it.""



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