Musical roots

This month our resident music guru Paul Dunton chats to local band David Migden & The Twisted Roots ahead of the launch their much-anticipated new album, ‘Lit Up Like A Fruit Machine’…


David Migden & The Twisted Roots – previously known as David Migden & The Dirty Words – have been performing on the Tunbridge Wells, Kent and London Music scenes for around 15 years now.

The popular five-piece offer a distinct style and sound which frontman David describes as ‘Twisted American Roots’. All members of the band are experienced professional musicians and are highly revered both locally and further afield for their level of musicianship, songwriting and vocal prowess.

From a local standpoint They have headlined the Local & Live Music Festival several times, performed at Black Deer Festival, The Forum, The Assembly Hall, Trinity Theatre and can often be found at The Grey Lady Music Lounge which they consider to be their ‘home from home’ venue.

February 12 marks the date for the launch of their stunning new album entitled ‘Lit Up Like a Fruit Machine’. The album will be available to buy both in CD and vinyl form and the band will be performing tracks from the album at the launch which takes place at The Grey Lady. Support on the night comes from Essie West.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat to a few of the band members and asked them if they could all share a little more about their own musical journeys and reveal a little bit about life in The Twisted Roots…

I started by asking David Migden about how he got into music and how that’s helped shape his career:

“My first introduction to music was via my father who was a classically trained musician and who actually played on ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles! My first love was undoubtedly Elvis though and as a young child I would often dress up and do my best to impersonate him as best I could.


“By my early teens I was learning the French Horn and enjoyed playing in various orchestras. By my mid-teens I began singing and writing and really enjoyed listening to lots of different Blues music – I felt very inspired by the likes of Jimmy Hendrix.


“Meeting my good friend Joe Gibson at school led me to develop my singing and writing craft and we started to perform live together. Whilst continuing my music with Joe, I also became involved with renowned musicians Lee Sankey and Matt Schofield and we recorded an album with the legendary engineer and producer Phil Brown and we then went on to tour the record at various London venues and further afield. This was an incredible experience for me and was integral to my development as a musician.

“Over the next few years I began to learn the piano and continued to write music and it wasn’t long before The Dirty Words band came to fruition with myself and Joe involved initially, then joined by Graham Mann, Phil Scragg and James Sedge. We decided to later to change the name to The Twisted Roots. Over the last decade, we have all enjoyed making several albums but our latest offering ‘Lit Up Like A Fruit Machine’ is certainly one we all feel very excited about. It was a magical experience recording the album, not only because the people involved are incredible musicians, but also because we are all such good friends and have an amazing chemistry and bond.

“For me personally, song writing is an unpredictable entity. The songs on the new album are inspired by whole mix of different of topics and ideas. ‘Get Involved’ is definitely about being stuck in lockdown, ‘World of Adventure’ is about creating something from nothing and ‘Kill Your Head’ is about trying to switch your mind so you can sleep and live happily. ‘Praise His Name’ is a quirky take on a salesman trying to sell messiah figurines for self-profit, while ‘ I Wish You Harm’ is simply a literal letter of dislike to divisive figures such as Trump, Boris and others.

“The new album was recorded at Al Drake Brockman’s Doz Studios in Fordcombe, which is a beautiful space located in a stunning rural setting. We are very proud of it and we hope you enjoy listening to it and hearing us perform it live. See you at The Grey Lady on February 12!”

Joe Gibson co-founded the band with David and now he also reveals to me how and why he got into music: “I started playing guitar in my teens and I was inspired by listening to my parents’ eclectic record collection from the 60s and 70s. I particularly enjoyed some of their Blues, Funk and Soul records. My dad really encouraged my guitar playing and by the age of 15 I was travelling with him to various London jam sessions where I was performing alongside and learning from an array of very experienced top class musicians. This really helped me to develop and expand my guitar playing.

“In my later teens I started taking some jazz guitar tuition which added a new style to my repertoire and helped me expand my understanding of music theory and led to me playing in various local Funk and Jazz bands. When David and I met we had a connection and affinity in terms of the music we both enjoyed listening .

“It wasn’t long before we started a duo act ‘Migden & Gibson’ whereby we would perform in and around Maidstone and London performing a mix of Blues and Soul themed covers. We then went on to form our first band which featured our good friends Dan Pierce and Steve Spall (The Violet Jive). We were performing covers by the likes of Bill Withers, Gil Scott-Heron and David Byrne to name a few. It was at this time that David had just started to write songs and so we embarked on our journey…”

Fellow band member Graham Mann also took up music from a young age and met David and Joe in the early days of them gigging. “They asked me along to a rehearsal where I replaced one of the band’s guitarists on keys. Now I play various bits and pieces in the band. Its current incarnation sounds great and is really good fun to play with.


“David’s writing and approach always allows for input from the rest of us, so the songs evolve over time and have our individual stamps on them as well as David’s unique style.”


Phil Scragg was initially a fan of the band before he started working with them. The bass player, producer and composer has worked and recorded with many artists including the Beautiful South, The Pet Shop Boys and Robert Plant on his album ‘Now and Zen’ and comedian Matt Berry in his band Milkbone.

“I began my association with the Twisted Roots around 2010. I loved their music and got to know them teaching music at West Kent college. Throughout my time being with the band I have been very involved in the production of the various recordings over the years and, for the new album, I was able to use my home studio to mix and master the album. It’s been a long time coming but I think ‘Lit Up Like A Fruit Machine’ features some of the best songs David has written and I am really proud to have contributed my production midwifery to the delivery of this album.”


To discover more or to book tickets for the David Midgen and the Twisted Roots gig on February 12, visit:

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