Civil Twilight feels at home telling Story of an Immigrant

The story of three musicians from South Africa who are finding success in America is at the root of the new album from Civil Twilight. Story of an Immigrant via Wind-Up Records is the quartet’s third studio album, debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, and No. 40 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. The title track lead single preceded the release of the full-length LP, and new single, 'Holy Dove,' is currently No. 38 on the Mediabase Alternative airplay chart; No. 40 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. Civil Twilight frontman Steve McKellar tells Billboard he's received so many interesting takes on ‘Holy Dove’ that he avoids giving his own perspective about the song’s meaning.

McKellar does disclose that ‘Holy Dove’ is the product of “inner-band strife” caused by keyboardist Kevin Daily, the group’s only American member. “He was [mad] at the band [because] … we were going through a lot of changes and trying to find this new [musical] thing,” explains McKellar, adding Daily’s resulting “F**k you guys. I'm tired of this” sentiment became the impetus behind the song. “From the get-go, as soon as that riff started up, we all thought, ‘This is what the album needs, and it's what we need as people right now, to play something that gets us excited, musically,’” says McKellar.

Achieving musical change was the band’s goal while recording Story of an Immigrant, which was produced in Atlanta with Ben H. Allen (Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Bombay Bicycle Club). “This is an album we tried to dive into [asking] what the hell we're doing here and [finding out] who the hell we are,” continues McKellar to Billboard. “Our music on our first two albums was a replication of the music we knew how to make … but then it gets out to the world and people put it in a box, and that's the really giant [problem], to be put in a box, to be put in a genre.”

The singer-bassist adds the Story of an Immigrant title track lyrically and musically “sets the course” for the new music the band is writing. “It was the first song written for the new record where we all collectively went, ‘I like this. Let’s keep going in this direction,’” declares McKellar in a statement. “We think musically it very naturally links our past with where we’re headed—and lyrically it’s in many ways the story of our lives, our band, and our journey.”

The idea of being immigrants had a large influence on McKellar, his brother and guitarist, Andrew McKellar, and drummer Richard Wouters. The three formed Civil Twilight more than a decade ago in their native Cape Town, South Africa, moving to L.A. then Nashville in the late 2000s. “I think that's just the immigrant spirit, which is forever looking for a new frontier, whether it's physical or virtual.”

Civil Twilight is currently touring North America with nearly 30 upcoming concert dates remaining at venues in Toronto (July 27); Cleveland (July 28); Indianapolis (July 29); St Paul, Minn. (July 31); Milwaukee (Aug. 1); Omaha, Neb. (Aug. 3); Denver (Aug. 7); Kansas City, Mo. (Aug. 9); Nashville (Sept. 10); Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, Texas (Sept. 23-25); West Hollywood, Calif. (Oct. 6); Reno, Nev. (Oct. 8); San Francisco (Oct. 10); Portland, Ore. (Oct. 12); Seattle (Oct. 13); Vancouver, BC, Canada (Oct. 14); Spokane, Wash. (Oct. 15); and Chicago (Oct. 20).

Watch the official music video for ‘Holy Dove,’ the new single from Nashville-based Civil Twilight

As A Matter of Fact…

* Civil Twilight is an alt-rock outfit from Cape Town, South Africa, currently based in Nashville. Brothers Andrew and Steven McKeller were raised in a musical household, listening to their father's jazz collection and their mother’s classically trained hands on piano.

* Andrew formed his first band in high school, adding classmate Richard Wouters before discovering his younger brother could sing and write songs. The trio finalized a lineup that included Steven on bass, Andrew on guitar, and Wouters on drums.

* The trio moved to Los Angeles in 2005 and signed a deal with indie label One October. In 2007 the band members co-produced their debut record, ‘Human,’ and Civil Twilight’s music began popping up on numerous television series including One Tree Hill, House, The Vampire Diaries, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Mentalist, Arrow, and Pretty Little Liars.

* The group’s heightened profile was met with a relocation to Nashville after signing with Wind-Up Records. A self-titled debut album appeared in 2010 with debut single, ‘Letters from the Sky,’ reaching No. 5 on the Mediabase Alternative radio chart. The track has sold more than 200,000 copies to date.

* Second album, Holy Weather, arrived in early 2012 along with new band member, Kevin Dailey, who provides keyboards and backing vocals. The album reached No. 20 on the Billboard Alternative Albums chart, led by the Top 25 single, ‘Fire Escape.’

* Civil Twilight has toured with Smashing Pumpkins, Florence & The Machine, Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Evanescence, Three Days Grace, Silversun Pickups, and Of Monsters and Men. The group has also played several top festivals including SXSW, Austin City Limits, Milwaukee Summerfest, Bonnaroo, and Voodoo Fest.

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