Anglo-Spanish Electro-indie band Twist Helix make turbulent, driving synth pop tunes shot through with punk energy that makes them a thrilling live experience.
After moving from Alicante to Newcastle in the north east of England, frontwoman Bea Garcia joined forces with drummer James Walker to form Twist Helix. For their latest album Ouseburn, they have been joined by Matthew ‘Baz’ Baron, adding a punky, dynamic bass sound developed with his former group Casual Threats .
I caught the band in Alicante during their current tour, covering Spain and the UK and asked them a few questions.
Your new album Ouseburn covers the area around Newcastle , and it’s changing from a post industrial landscape to a creative artistic place and asks some questions about the costs of gentrification. What are your favourite places in that region artistically, and further afield?
If we had to single out one place it would be The Little Buildings, on Ford Street for which the last tracks on our album are dedicated. Despite the venue’s small size, it is a place with a really big heart, lots of character, characters and of course cheap cans. Little Buildings has been our home for three years now and we as a band have grown with the place, seeing it transform from an anonymous industrial unit into the city’s go-to underground venue and the undisputed creative hub for the local music scene.
Unfortunately, its current incarnation in the heart of the Ouseburn will close its doors for the last time in April, having been priced out of the area. There’s some good news though, Little Buildings has found a new home on Warwick Street, which is less than a mile away, and the new venue’s location (close to the newly relocated Blank Studios and Star and Shadow Cinema) means it should hopefully keep some of its pull as the beating heart of the local music scene.
Where have you had the best travel experiences and where is top of your “to visit” list?
We tour a lot and that means we see lots of different places, although not necessarily for very long. Before Baz joined the band we had a really crazy few days where we played in Northumberland, then flew out to Madrid to play there the next day, and then flew straight back to Newcastle for a show at The Cluny. That’s one of the standout memories for me as it was such a mix of shows from festival fields to a European capital then back to one of the venues that’s been our spiritual home.
We love variety, and while it’s great to play in big cities, the smaller towns and cities can surprise you. I think sometimes the best shows are the most intimate and those in places a little bit off of the beaten track.
You’re currently touring the UK and Spain, what are the best and worst parts of touring for you?
Time together as “the band”, we all genuinely love performing, our music is fun to play and full of energy it’s hard not to enjoy playing. It’s great meeting other bands from different parts of the country/world as well, seeing them play and getting to know them. It makes the world that bit smaller when you connect with other bands in different areas, we’re all doing it for the same reasons for the most part so it’s good to support each other.
For us there isn’t really any bad to touring, in fact picking the worst aspect of it is a challenge because it’s a really cool thing to be able to do. Baz says if he’s picking one thing about it it’s managing to stay fed properly, which is fair. It’s far too easy when you’re on the road to live on coffee or sandwich-plus-drink meal deals because you’re always trying to watch what you spend along with not really having a lot of time due to travel, soundcheck et cetera. It can end up catching up with you, so you’ve got to try look after yourself.
Bea, coming from Spain to settle in Newcastle what’s your favourite local find? Be it musically, culinary or whatever. And opposite direction, same question to Baz and James.
I think for me the biggest discovery was just how rich the music scene was in Newcastle and how quickly fellow musicians in the North East accepted me as a part of their music scene. I’ve made some amazing friendships through music, I think it’s something so immediate you can’t help but connect with others.
While we were in Cuenca recording the new album Baz developed a real taste for Cervezas Tormo, they’re just his favourite thing in the whole world. I hope we’ll be able to find him some more while we’re back in Spain otherwise he’ll be heartbroken. Musically he’s a big fan of the Basque band Pet Fennec, and culturally he’s a long-distance Atletico de Madrid fan. His only other experience of Spanish culture prior to joining the band was childhood holidays to Benidorm, so we’re constantly exposing him to new things.
As for James, he has a weird appreciation of Spanish Indie and pop music, Cd’s of Supersubmarina, Vetusta Morla, Love of Lesbian, Izal and even Alaska can usually be found in his car. He’s also a bit of a whiz in the kitchen and I hate to admit it knows more traditional Spanish recipies than I do.
Both “Manifesto” and “Ouseburn” could be described as concept albums with overarching stories to them, how does that affect the songwriting process for individual tracks?
It definitely makes you pay more attention to the tone of the music that you’ve written, because the way the song feels is as important to the story arc as the lyrics. We usually have an idea of the story and start to split it into “chapters” so to speak. That way, when we write a song we can take the feel of that song and match it to the section of the story we want it to tell, then the melody and lyrics develop from there.
Which music would you recommend currently to The Avocado’s readers?
We keep a weekly mix of all our favourite new releases on Spotify, we’re always on the lookout for exciting new music, you can keep up with all our latest finds here:
Playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4z3WxQ4SB5g7xcsBnxje00
More info at http://www.abadgeoffriendship.com/twist-helix
Photos by Paul Murray.