“There’s still no formula or rules…” - hmv.com talks to Editors
As their new album In Dream comes to stores (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page), we sat down with Editors’ frontman Tom Smith and bassist Russell Leetch to find out all about the making of their new LP, settling into life as a five-piece and their plans to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album The Back Room...
Your new album’s out today! This is an album which feels like it’s come together pretty speedily...
Russell: “It’s been a very quick record for us. We were still touring when we did our first session for the album and that was at the end of last year.”
Do records come together more quickly for us now than they used to?
Tom: “It goes in stages. There’s still no formula or rules. The last record took a long time to make, but that’s because we went through a breakup. Coming out of that and getting two new guys in (Guitarist Chris Urbanowicz left during the recording of 2013’s The Weight Of Your Love and was replaced by new guitarist Justin Lockey and keyboardist Elliott Williams) took a long time and it was quite nice this time for it to be calm this time. Writing as a five-piece couldn’t have gone any better, but I don’t want to curse it and jinx things for the future.”
Russell: “It’s always different with songs, Tom might send over a demo and we’ll all be buzzing about it, but when we get into the room together it just doesn’t work. Other times something will grow and come to life in the room, you never know…”
Does the line-up feel totally settled now? And did that change how you wrote?
Tom: “It’s totally settled now. The first time we went up to Scotland we took some gear just to get down the demos and record the ideas me and Justin had, not to make a record, definitely not to self-produce. But it’s testament to how comfortable we are as a five-piece that everything came so quickly and those recordings became the album. It’s more collaborative than it’s ever been.”
Russell: “They’re proper members of the band, they contribute to the writing and Justin really came up with some great ideas. That’s how we want it to be, it’s exciting.”
Why did you decide to go to Scotland? Recording in the Highlands of Scotland is a bit different to recording in Nashville…
Tom: “We were kind of new band last time and we had this American producer and going away together to record in Nashville just felt like the perfect thing. But all those songs were still written and rehearsed in Birmingham. We wanted to do it differently this time and we knew had enough ideas to get started. We wanted to go somewhere remote, to be away from all distractions and Scotland seemed wild and remote and also not too far away.”
Russell: “It’s a stunning part of the world. You can forget how nice the UK can be. I think we just googled ‘Scottish rehearsal spaces’.”
Tom: “The place where we worked mainly do weddings now, but it’s got all these big open rooms overlooking the sea, right in the middle of whiskey territory in Scotland. It was beautiful.”
When did you decide you were going to self-produce the album?
Russell: “We went to Scotland to demo the tunes, we thought we might work with Flood again (he produced the band’s 2009 album In This Light and on This Evening), but eventually we played back the tunes and we weren’t sure how we could better them.”
Tom: “You don’t know you can do it until you’ve done it. If we’d gone in thinking we were going to self-produce the responsibility would have weighed on the sessions. We’ve always had somebody there to make the final decision if we can’t agree on something, it was the first time without a safety net and it was a scary thing, but we got through it because we didn’t know we were doing it.”
How did you want this record to move on from The Weight Of You Love?
Tom: “We wanted to make something more electronic and to move away from just making a traditional band record. That last record we started with Chris and we spent a long time trying to make a record that was more electronic but with guitars high in the mix. We made the decision to move on without him and when the two new guys came in we decided that needed to focus on being a band and so we made quite a traditional sounding rock record. We like plenty of records like that, but this reflects more what we listen to, it feels like a more logical step from record three.”
What were you listening?
Russell: “Jon Hopkins, Nils Frahm, nice electronica, bits of disco, all sorts really.”
What kind of album do you think this is lyrically?
Tom: “The last record felt like I was chasing the idea of singing about love in different ways, but always chasing. It’s not just about dreams, that’s a thread that’s just ended up being there, I still don’t know where lyrics come from, they’ve always been me trying to focus on my darker side.”
Do you think you’ll still tour as hard as ever you did?
Tom: “It’s a bit more complicated now, three of us have children so we try and keep it to three weeks at a time maximum. We’ll still tour a lot.”
How is it picking your setlist now?
Tom: “Tricky. We’re trying to do that, it’s not easy to make a lot of these songs work stylistically against each other. We’ll go new song heavy, we’re very proud of them all.”
Russell: “We might do a little The Back Room section, maybe a medley…”
Tom: “That’d be brilliant. We’d get them done in three minutes, they’re all in the same key too.”
It’s been 10 years since you released that album, were you ever tempted to do a start to finish tour to celebrate?
Tom: “I think the offer was there, but we’ve got a new record so we don’t want to be overly nostalgic. I don’t have that much of a strong opinion on doing it, but it would be weird to go out and do it without Chris.”
Russell: “Like I said we’ll probably do a little section, nothing too crazy. Save it for the 20th anniversary.”
Editors’ new album In Dream is out now.