The Bristol trio Twisted Ankle are a unique bunch, to say the very least. With their math rock mayhem blurring the faint line between jazz orientated progression and unmapped noise chaos that threatens to short wire one’s neurons, the band have become the subject of a devoted following in the South West and beyond, with their craft narrating the mundane horrors of life in a fashion that’s both relatable and abstractly surreal.
However, it’s their live presence that really solidifies the act as extraordinary. Obnoxiously forefront, invasively theatrical and almost unconformably unpredictable, Twisted Ankle are a band that deliver their sound with both precision and aggressive oddball comedy that often takes form in musical arguments that feel like they’re on the verge of derailing the entire set. Encapsulating all of this is their recently released self-titled debut, out now via Breakfast Records.
Full of charm, ferocity and macabre humour lamenting our eventual demise, the long play is the full Twisted Ankle experience in one neat package that threatens to explode at the slightest provocation. With the album out now and frying the grey matter of anyone experiencing it, we decided to get in touch with the band for a little natter on the election, humour, the recording process, the forthcoming year and much more.
How are you during this time of the US election?
Henry Morgan (Guitars, Vocals): "I have been teaching and everyday people were looking more and more exhausted. People just have black instead of eyes. Think I have felt that too."
What would be your campaign slogan if you were up for election for office?
Henry: "Probably ‘Buy a Burger, Eat a Phone’"
What music have you been enjoying this year?
Henry: "I have been listening to loads of big beat, late 90s early 00s contemporary stuff and Richard Dawson, gutted couldn’t see him this year. I had been really looking forward to seeing him until it was cancelled. The most excited I have been about a British songwriter in a while."
Joseff Gywn (Drums, Vocals): "I went through a phase of listening to lots of Jazz like Thelonious Monk, his album Monk’s Dream is quite timeless and memorable. Definitely USA Nails new album Character Stop came out the same day as our record. No Pleasures is my favourite album of theirs but this one is a close second."
Bruno Chávez (Bass, Vocals): "I go through big phases, but I have been listening to Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith who is new wave electronic artist. Very low key, experimental lockdown vibes. I wasn’t really into metal but I have been listening to loads of thrash, obviously Slayer then working through bands like Kreator and The Legacy. Also Rob Clouth, Zero Point, it’s very good physical ear music."
For those who don’t know Twisted Ankle how would you best describe yourselves as a band in one sentence?
Bruno: "‘Stupid joke band who complains about stuff but is funny.’"
Henry: "‘Jazz Trio for the deaf’ which is says on a lot of our stuff and I think that still applies."
Joseff: "‘Please stop, for the love of god, please stop!’"
Bruno: "What Frank Zappa would sound like if he had no talent."
How is it to have finally released a full length album? Why did it take so long?
Henry & Jofess: "MONEY!"
Henry: "We haven’t got the wherewithal to write as fast as we would like, because I still live in Wales. Things in the future will have to move a bit faster I think."
Bruno: "It’s definitely a relief. Despite our organised appearance we are actually quite chaotic and disorganised. We should probably listen to ’10 Ways to Sort Out Your Life Dude’."
Henry: "You mean ‘7 Rules For Life’ by John Peterson? 12 rules?"
Bruno: "Let’s just follow some rules."
Who did you record with and where? How was that process for you?
Joseff: "Our mate Corey who is very good at production in Bristol in 3 whole days. Bit of trivia, Steve Strong walked into one of our sessions."
Bruno: "It was really cold it was awful, but it was the cheapest option. But Corey was brilliant and we highly recommend him."
Henry: "I got a really nasty electric shock on the second day due to a grounding issue with my guitar, I had to pull myself together. I was pretty wobbly."
Bruno: "It’s a regular occurrence. I nearly died in a bike accident earlier and Joseff’s reaction was ‘If you died that will be the last straw for me.’ Haha selfish bastard!"
"There is still a lot of ableist abuse through people’s behaviours."
For the English amongst your fan base, what is Joseff saying at the beginning of the album about Wetherspoons in Welsh?
Henry: "It’s Gog Welsh."
Joseff: "I did it off the top of my head in one take. *repeats Welsh phrase*
‘I woke up at 7am, walked into Wetherspoons and saw every pint I had the other night, it was really nice.’"
You are known for abstract and absurd humour on stage but the album covers important topics like anxiety and mental health? Why do you think it’s important covering these topics even as ‘funny band’?
Henry: "The absurdity in life is jointly responsible for humour and that kind of horror. That is the best way to explore and cope with these topics."
Bruno: "Look at memes which are used to combat the rising mental health crisis. I personally suffer from mental health problems, as others do particularly young people and it’s deeply related to social and economic issues and best way for us to deal with it is humour. There are philosophers who can more eloquently speak on this but the two go hand in
Henry: "Music isn’t funny enough, it’s a self regard thing. It should be used a coping tool."
Bruno: "When you talk to your friends about politics you’ll throw a joke in that is what life is. Life is peppered with humour. We don’t see ourselves as a ‘funny band’, we have the humour there in the lyrics as it is part of our daily lives. It’s part of who we are and our existence."
Joseff: "I have lived my life being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome or autistic spectrum disorder and it’s really hard to manage your life and emotions. In serious cases you get episodes of mania or psychotic behaviour. The album cover for me it highlights that. A lot of this is still treated like it is in the 19th century. There is still a lot of ableist abuse through people’s behaviours."
Any standout moments in a performance at a gig during your onstage antics?
Henry: "There is a band from Liverpool, Salt the Snail, who we played with in Cardiff last year. Bruno’s bass strap broke and he was writing around on the ground screaming with his legs apart. I got down on all fours and started delivering a baby, it took about 5 minutes."
Bruno: "The audience really dug it."
Joseff: "One that comes to mind for me at the Crofter’s Rights, we fucked up and started screaming ‘Nightmare nightmare nightmare!’"
Henry: "60% of the time it’s us just covering up mistakes, that nonsense."
Bruno: "My favourite moments are semi real arguments and there is always some tension there which makes it realistic. We all know it’s fun as we are so comfortable with each other but the audience questions it."
What next for Twisted Ankle in 2021?
Henry: "I would want to move more theatrical, move away from the standard punk band set up. Bruno and I have some theatrical background and I think there’s something there as an evolution."
Bruno: "When we say theatre we mean in an abstract way. Not a ‘Twisted Ankle Play’. One thing we want to move away from is the angsty punkness. We want to come across a bit more mature no matter what subject matter we cover. The album still has a sense of youth angst, but we are all grown up now."
Joseff: "‘All My Life I Wanted to be a Mortgage’. We definitely want to push ourselves more. It’s so hard to look out into the unknown. We need some stocks with this new Presidency coming up, we need to maximise advertising."
Henry: "We need to diversify our portfolio."
Bruno: "I am actually brainstorming a song about delivering Jeff Bezo’s head in a box."