Named after the iconic central Manchester soul club, local Oldham act Twisted Wheel comprised guitarist and lead vocalist Jonny Brown, bassist Richard Lees, and drummer Adam Clarke. Born in February 2007 out of the ashes of Brown and Clarke's previous '60s rock-inspired project the Children, this raucous and ramshackle, punk-inflected indie rock trio performed their first gig only a week after their formation.
As with a handful of their U.K. contemporaries -- in particular Dundee's the View and Coventry's the Enemy -- the band shared an obsession with the spikiness and immediacy of the Jam, the Clash, and Oasis. Critically, their suitably raw and energetic demo found its way to the mutually revered Paul Weller -- via former-Inspiral Carpets organist and fellow Oldham indie luminary-turned-XFM DJ, Clint Boon. This resulted in a handful of opening slots with the ex-Jam frontman and an invitation to record at his Surrey-based studio, to boot. The combination of hometown support, a growing web presence, and the band's confidence and hard-working attitude led to a deal with Columbia, who issued their 7" only single "You Stole the Sun" in July 2008. Setting out their stall, the track pushed Brown's gruff and heavily accented vocals to the forefront, while the verse dared to dabble with a double-speed rhythm more commonly associated with U.S. hardcore punk acts such as NOFX. Further singles -- such as November's "Lucy the Castle" and in particular, the following year's "We Are Us" -- stayed true to the no-nonsense, straight U.K. indie approach of Oasis, who in turn asked Twisted Wheel to support them at various mammoth European shows during 2008 and 2009.
Indirectly aping the Beatles' completion of Please Please Me in one 1963 day, Brown unabashedly recorded all of his vocals for Twisted Wheel's self-titled debut in one 24-hour Los Angeles studio session. The Dave Sardy-produced album was released to mixed reviews in April 2009, but was filled with the same youthfulness and vigor that epitomized their live shows as well as much of early 21st century, post-Arctic Monkeys, mainstream U.K. alternative rock. ~ James Matthew Wilkinson