Tue, 27 Nov 2007 10:38:37
Since bursting onto the scene in 2003 with their Mercury-nominated debut Vehicles and Animals,Athlete have accumulated an impressive resume, including a number one album and a prestigious Ivor Novello song-writing award for the moving "Wires."
Currently touring in America to promote their eagerly-awaited third album, Beyond the Neighbourhood, keyboardist Tim Wanstall dragged himself away from the LA sunshine to talk to ARTISTdirect about creative integrity and the art of the album.
Your new album Beyond the Neighbourhood develops a lot of the electronic elements you began to explore on 2005's Tourist. How did you sit down and try to approach this record?
In one sense, it was like we were trying to forget what kind of record we were following. We had bought our own studio, so it was like we were in our own little corner of London and that really helped us not feel like the pressure was on. In terms of sound, we just focused on the songs and just let it happen. Right from the beginning there were two different sides to the record: the electronic side, but at the same time, I think it's our most up-tempo and guitar-based album.
What were some of those influences?
For a lot of the reference points we would stick on an Arcade Fire tune, or some Broken Social Scene, just because they're records that sound great, but also capture something of the life and spirit of the band—people playing in a room together. Technically, if you want to be a pure engineer geek, you can probably find lots of faults with them, but they communicate a vibe. That's what we were into: making a record that captured something of us, as opposed to making something that sounded sonically perfect.
And you self-produced this time around. Did this mean you were able to have more control over that sound?
All our records have been self-produced to a certain extent. We're not the kind of band who has a song on an acoustic guitar, and then goes into a big studio with a producer and starts recording from scratch. Whenever we've gone into the studio, we've already had fully-formed demos, and some of the keyboards and guitar parts have been ready for the final version. It was a big step not having a paid, proven producer guiding us, but at the same time, we were on our third record and felt confident about our abilities. We were more worried about the technical side of capturing the performance, but we had people around for that as a safety net.
A lot of people seem to underestimate the influence of producers in rock or indie, compared to pop, where they're far more visible…
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