Highlands & Islands

Glasgow's Twin Atlantic on their 'infamous Belladrum debut'

Twin Atlantic Image copyright Steve Gullick
Image caption Glasgow's Twin Atlantic are no strangers to the Highlands

Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic are preparing for their fifth appearance at the Belladrum Tartan Heart Music Festival. But when they first played at Bella, the band almost had to leave the stage without having finished their set.

For Glasgow's Twin Atlantic the Highlands is a special place.

They have played more than a few gigs there, including at the Ironworks in Inverness and the Loopallu music festival in Ullapool as well as working with young people in a music project in Lochaber.

The band's frontman, Sam McTrusty, is also just back home from a "touristy trip" to Skye.

Next week, McTrusty and the band's Barry McKenna, Ross McNae and Craig Kneale will head back to the Highlands after being announced as a surprise last minute addition to Bella's line-up.

Image copyright Steve Gullick

"We were due to play at something else, but that fell through and we had a free weekend," says McTrusty.

'Infamous debut'

Twin Atlantic last played Bella, which takes place on the Belldrum Estate near Beauly, in 2013.

"We headlined on the main stage that year. It was the first time we had been given that responsibility - to headline a festival," says McTrusty.

But he does not consider it to have been the band's best performance, citing "maybe being too excited", along with "some nerves" and unlucky technical issues affecting the production crew.

Image copyright Steve Gullick

"Even things like stepping out onto a stage in the dark of the night and waiting about all day to do that," says McTrusty. "We are a high energy band. All these things were a new learning experience for us."

He adds: "Before then it had been a quick on and off a stage at four o'clock in the afternoon."

While that night four years ago was one of many "firsts" for Twin Atlantic, as McTrusty describes it, their first ever appearance at Bella was back in 2008.

The music festival's organisers jokingly call it "Twin Atlantic's now infamous debut Belladrum appearance".

Image copyright stuartmoffat.com
Image caption The scene early on during Twin Atlantic's 2008 debut appearance at Bella

The band was booked for the Seedlings Stage, a place offering new bands and musicians a platform to share their tunes with an audience.

McTrusty says: "It is inside a tent with capacity for a couple of hundred people, maybe 300 at a push. We weren't expecting to have anyone."

But after being booked by Bella, Twin Atlantic supported Biffy Clyro.

This elevated Twin Atlantic's profile, and boosted the turn out for their appearance on the Seedlings Stage.

The tent at Bella was packed.

'Crowd surfing'

"There were people wearing our t-shirts and rocking out as hard as they could," says McTrusty.

"Then all these security people came in and then up on to the stage. We were told that we would need to stop the show because it was not safe."

But an alternative option to scrapping the gig was offered up.

"It just sprung to mind: what if everyone in the audience just sat down?" says McTrusty.

"I went to the mic and said if everybody sat down then we could keep playing. If they didn't we would have to stop."

"Everyone politely took the seat."

Image copyright stuartmoffat.com
Image caption Everyone in the crowd politely sat down, says McTrusty

He adds: "Then we were into this seven-minute-long prog rock song and there's a guy surfing the crowd while they are sat down on the ground."

Twin Atlantic, still buzzing from playing at Glasgow's new TRNSMT festival, are looking forward to playing to a Highlands audience again.

McTrusty says: "Many of those who come have to travel long distances to get to the festival and also face the logistical challenges of sorting out somewhere to stay during the event."

He adds: "Highlands audiences are very committed to having a good time."

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