Interview: Ed Lay of Editors
Mon, 25 Jun 2007 16:08:48
Birmingham, UK band Editors made a convincing splash with their debut album, The Back Room, which garnered them a Mercury Prize shortlist and a #2 spot on the UK charts. They sparked a following in the US last year with a well-attended tour, and now they're back with a much-anticipated sophomore album, An End Has a Start, armed with anthemic single, "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors".
ARTISTdirect spoke with drummer Ed Lay about signing autographs in chicken shacks, surviving a hectic touring schedule and getting back into the studio with producer Jacknife Lee (Bloc Party, U2).
The new album, An End Has a Start, features a couple songs that you've previously played out a lot—"Weight of the World" and "Bones." Have those changed dramatically from their live versions?
No, not massively. But of course they changed a bit on the road; that's what they should do—whether it's just the pace of the song or the position it comes in the set. You kind of grow into it. Sometimes you have to reassess what you're doing to make sure you're going in the right direction, and you're not pulling the songs too far away from their recorded versions. You get more in tune with yourself as you get more relaxed with playing in a live situation. It means the public gets a bit more as well—of your soul, really. We're not the best at writing on the road, so...
What you go out with, you stick with?
Yeah, exactly. We didn't have anything new prepared until we stopped touring last September. That's when we started to write lyrics again. So it's a very different way of working for us this time around. With The Back Room we had everything ready when we went into the studio.
Speaking of going back into the studio, what went into recording the new album? An End Has a Start certainly sounds as brooding as the last record, but somehow more hopeful.
We didn't intend to do anything particularly different with this album—it just worked out that way when we all went into the studio. We didn't have all the songs finished, but we all wanted to make an album that was a step on, musically. A lot of that had to do with adding texture and layering, using different instruments, and making use of [producer] Garret ["Jacknife" Lee] as much as possible. He's incredibly musical. He made the best out of our songs and we where very happy we got him involved.
What's the atmosphere like in the studio when you're recording?
We had plenty of opportunities to have some fun and the recording was very easy, quite a natural experience, really. We all pitched in when we had to and took some time off when we needed to as well. I got my drink spiked one night.... but apart from that we all knew what we were there to do. We were actually recording for the first time in a couple years, so it was nice to get all creative again.
Do you feel there are very rigid expectations in the U.S. as to what a British band is supposed to sound like?
There's always an expectation that if you were respected in England, you should be in the U.S. as well. I like that. It's nice to be challenged. You can't just trot out a load of crap and expect it to be lapped up because you've got an English accent. I don't know if there has been an expectation for us in the states. Sometimes you can get cast in broad brushstrokes—that you're totally English. That's fine, we are an English band, but I don't see ourselves as a band just for the English people. I think we've got a sound that's in the tradition of quite dark-sounding, intimate British guitar bands. But we take our influences from all over—whether it's French electric pop or American rock and metal bands. We've honed a sound that's certainly English but it could be applied anywhere as well, perhaps especially the United States.
You surprised a lot of fans on your last U.S. tour with the energy you brought to your live shows; impressing even people who maybe weren't that into the first record. Do you guys put a lot of weight on touring?
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