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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Irish group All Tvvins to perform in Dubai

What started as an experiment has transformed All Tvvins into a huge indie-pop sensation. We find out how it happened.
Conor Adams of All Tvvins. Photo by Kieran Frost / Redferns / Getty Images
Conor Adams of All Tvvins. Photo by Kieran Frost / Redferns / Getty Images

The hippest band to hit the UAE this month just might be All Tvvins.

Formed less than two years ago, this Irish duo are already making tight-jeaned spectators swoon with their brand of dancey, retro-flavoured indie-pop. They play tonight a free Subsonic event at Lock Stock & Barrel in Dubai.

Regulars on the Dublin scene, the duo – bassist/vocalist Conor Adams and guitarist Lar Kaye – came together after their respective bands folded at the same time.

Adams was the lead singer and guitarist with maths-rock outfit, The Cast of Cheers, while Kaye was a driving force in out-there instrumental rock experimentalists, Adebisi Shank.

When both bands came off the road and decided not to go back, Adams and Kaye were united by a desire to keep the rock ‘n’ roll dream alive.

“We were so used to touring, when we got home and there were no gigs we said, ‘We’ve got to change that’,” says Adams. “We decided to just play together and see what happened.”

At first, not a lot. The shackles of art-rock were hard to shake. “It was weird, we both have a similar style, and we were both playing guitar, so we ended up making these ridiculous 20-minute long guitar jams no one would want to hear.”

It was only after Adams, 30, switched to bass that the group’s sound started to evolve into the sound you hear today – a kinetic, 1980s-ish, hook-heavy, synth-stabbing brand of “sad pop music”, which is markedly more commercial than either member’s last outfit.

“We were bored of playing mad guitar music, we’d been doing it forever,” says Adams.

“We’ve become a lot less snobby about music, and that’s what comes across in the music – the two of us decided not to care what anything thinks anymore, and that’s a realty liberating thing to do. It was just an experiment, but when we started to really click, we realised this could be bigger than all the other stuff we’d done before.”

Coming from two of Ireland’s better-known indie bands meant All Tvvins skipped the gruelling round of back-room pub gigs that new acts face.

Their first gig was just 18 months ago, and the duo have already clocked support slots for Arcade Fire and Pixies.

“To see [Pixies frontman] Frank Black onstage was pretty surreal,” says Adams. “Arcade Fire are really tall. I tried to avoid them – I like them too much and I had no idea what to say.”

Another major coup came when Darkest Ocean – one of four singles released in the past year – was picked up by EA Sports for the soundtrack to hit football video game franchise, Fifa 2016.

“They came looking,” says Adams, a self-confessed “massive” gamer. “I don’t know how they heard the tune, but they approached us.”

On stage the duo are backed by Irish drummer Lewis Hedigan – a friend who was born and spent his early years in Abu Dhabi – while Kaye uses electronics to create the band’s synth and sample – heavy sound live onstage.

“Watching him confuses me, to be honest,” says Adams.

There’s no such trickery required in the studio, where the band’s layered guitars and electronics has been fine-tuned. After months of sessions in London and Dublin, there’s an as-yet-untitled album “almost” ready, expected to drop in late summer.

“It’s been an easy album to make,” says Adams. “It’s easy to write together – we’ve written so many songs the hardest part has been deciding which ones to use.” Now you have been adequately briefed, you are set to name-drop All Tvvins as the next hip thing. But wait – make sure you know how to pronounce the name: “All Twins,” says Adams.

“There’s another band called All Twins and we didn’t want to confuse people – or get sued – so we made it double-V, All Tvvins. A lot of people are now pronouncing the V, which is kind of funny.”

• All Tvvins perform at Subsonic tonight, from 9.30pm at Lock Stock & Barrel, Grand Millennium, Tecom. Free entry, first come first served

rgarratt@thenational.ae