"We thought this record was never going to come out" - hmv.com talks to Embrace
The last time everyone was talking about an Embrace comeback was in 2004, when they ended a three-year gap with their album Out Of Nothing and a huge hit single 'Gravity', they quickly followed that with 2006's 'This New Day' which featured 'Nature's Law', their highest charting single to date. They toured extensively, playing big venues and festival slots, talked about their plans for their follow-up and then nothing…
Eight years have passed since then, but Embrace are back with a brand new self-titled record. We spoke to frontman Danny McNamara about the torturous process of making the album, how they end up with 500 songs and why it's their darkest record to date.
So your new album is finally out on Monday (April 28th) after an eight-year gap, are you relieved to be finally putting it out?
"Yeah I am. There were plenty of points where we really thought this record was never going to come out, I'll finally believe it when I finally see it on the shelves."
When did you actually finish it?
"The second week of January. We finished it then, but we've been working really hard on it for the last five years. We wrote 500 songs and from that picked the best 10. We've got 490 to pick from for the next album…"
How did you end up with so many songs?
"When you work on a record for five years and you have a couple of people who like to write songs that's how many you end up with. We all chipped in this time, we had so many songs, it's just how long we spent on the record."
When you got to 200 or 300, did you not think 'That'll probably do'?
"No, it's about finding the really great ones, when you've been doing it a while you get really good at writing good songs, but no better at writing great songs, they take as long as ever. When you start out you might write 20 songs, 15 of them are good and five are okay, you can figure out how to stop writing okay songs, but writing great songs never gets any easier."
What was the first song you were sure that would make it on the record?
"'Refugees' was the first one we were really happy with and once we had that we realised that we had to write another nine songs that were as good as that, which took a while. Recording that and getting it right really spurred us on though, it gave us real clarity about the record."
Did you produce it as a band?
"My brother Richard (McNamara – guitarist) produced it. He's really tough, a lot tougher than anyone else we've ever worked with, he knows us all so he knows what we're capable of. He got the very best out of us. We've worked with some great people and in the past and he's learnt from all of them."
Did he find it hard balancing his role as a member of the band and producer?
"He must have found it hard, we're five very different people and he had to get the best out of all of us, I'm really proud of the job that he's done. It's the best produced album we've ever made."
You said earlier you weren't sure that you'd ever get an album done, when did you start feeling that?
"Every week! It was really tough, writing really good songs isn't easy, that's why lots of bands don't do it, at least not past their first album."
What kind of album is it lyrically?
"It's a lot darker than the stuff we've done before. 'The Good Will Out' was a positive record, the idea that all bad things get worked out in the end. This album takes that idea and wises up a bit, realises that that's not the case, we all die on our own in the end, there are no happy endings. But that makes life more important and more vital."
Was it strange sharing such dark lyrics with the rest of the band?
"I've always been really open with them about my words, sometimes I need to explain them a bit, but they trust me and they've got faith in why I write the way I do."
You've got a brand new label in Cooking Vinyl, why did you decide to go with them?
"We got a really good feeling about them when we met them, we spoke to a few people, which was flattering as they all seemed to like the album, but Cooking Vinyl just seemed like the best place."
Are you going to be playing much of the new record when you tour?
"Yeah, I think we'll do half a dozen. We've played a few gigs so far and the songs have gone down really well. For the first time since we started people are chanting for the new songs, that's really great for us."
Embrace's new self-titled album is released on Monday (April 28th) and can be pre-ordered from hmv stores now.
Embrace will be meeting fans and signing copies of their new album 'Embrace' at:
hmv Leeds - Sunday 27th April - 3.00pm
hmv Manchester - Monday 28th April - 5.30pm