INTERVIEW: Editors’ Ed Lay on Best-Of Album ‘Black Gold’

INTERVIEW: Editors' Ed Lay on Best-Of Album 'Black Gold' 1

In continuation of what’s been one of the most prolific creative streaks of their 15-year career, Editors have released their best-of album ‘Black Gold’ via Play It Again Sam. ‘Black Gold’ includes 13 tracks from their 6 studio albums, alongside 3 brand new offerings: ‘Upside Down’, summer festival anthem ‘Frankenstein’ and the gothically dramatic title track ‘Black Gold’ – out today.

The band will also be embarking on a 27 date European and UK Greatest Hits tour in early 2020, which will see them play shows in Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin and Glasgow, with a landmark performance at London’s SSE Arena Wembley set for Friday 28th February. Mark Millar caught up with Editors Drummer Ed Lay to talk about the new release and upcoming tour.


On October 25th Editors will release best-of album ‘Black Gold,’ a new compilation album that covers 15-years of the bands recording career. Why did you think it was time to put the bands first retrospective compilation?

I don’t think any of us were particularly mentally ready to do it. There’s a lot of water that’s passed under the bridge, and as a band, you try and focus on the brand new stuff, but to use it as a vehicle to put out some new tracks was very appealing because we didn’t have to write a whole album for it. We had some tracks that we could put out almost immediately after having written and recorded them, which was wonderful, but also while we were putting those together, you look back on your career, and it gave us a little bit of a chance to celebrate it which we haven’t before. When you are in the midst of it, you don’t consider that – you don’t look back and enjoy it as much as you should do. So this was quite an opportunity to do that and get other people’s experiences of our band as we’ve gone along as well and reminisce a little.

Was it tough choosing the songs from such a rich catalogue?

Yeah, we could have gone two ways. We could have done a double record with more deeper cuts with songs that the band could have chosen individually, but I think everybody has their option to playlist their best of, of any band through Spotify or whatever so they can do that themselves. We wanted to put out a collection of songs that span all of the albums and all of the different types of sounds and moments and members we have used throughout our career, and wrap them all up in a bundle with extra songs of where we are at currently. It could have got long-winded, and we could have got deep into what song deserves to be on there for different reasons, not just it being a greatest hits album. We all thought we wanted to have something quite succinct and have a record that flows together interestingly.

‘Black Gold’ includes three brand new tracks ‘Upside Down’ ‘Frankenstein’ and title track ‘Black Gold’ What can you tell me about the recording and writing of those tracks?

We have been playing ‘Frankenstein’ over the summer, and it’s become an instant moment in our set. It’s one of those songs that you don’t have to know to get into. It’s brilliant for festivals – we start playing it, and immediately get a field dancing, without them having been listening to it on repeat for the last six months.

The three songs were produced by Garrett “Jacknife” Lee who you worked with on ‘An End Has A Start’ Why did you decide to work with him again?

The opportunity arose – we have never repeated our time with a producer, we’ve never gone back into the studio with somebody we have used before. Of course, every one of the producers we have had worked with in the past has had an impact on our sound. But I think the point we were at with Garrett going into a second record after having quite unexpected success with our first record having someone there with so much inspiration and so much dedication and hard work for our band, like Garret fighting our corner at the time of our second record, was so important for our career. It let us have more of a kind of bump up to the world than anyone else could have given us. To go back into the studio 12 years later after the initial time we were working with him – it was crazy to see how much we had all grown up, and to see how much he had changed and changed his style. We have changed as well – we have all grown up and have got families, and the whole dynamic shifts, but the hunger that Garrett has for producing new sounds is much greater than it was back then. He was a joy to work with.

The deluxe version has ‘Distance: The Acoustic Recordings’ Could you ever foresee the band writing an acoustic album of brand new material?

I am open to it, but it’s difficult because I’ve never really been involved in that side of it. When the guys go out and do their press essentially, it’s a bottom-line problem because more people are too expensive to go out and do full sessions, because you need more crew, more freight, and more hotel rooms. So they try and whittle it down to three people, and they are going to be the singer, the guitarist, and somebody who plays the piano – so the rhythm section goes immediately. But we have done a couple of shows when we have performed as an acoustic five-piece, and they have been brilliant.

The acoustic songs that they have reworked for this record aren’t necessarily the ones that everybody has heard before, such as ‘Violence’ from the last record, and ‘Let Your Good Heart Lead You Home’ which was a B side on the first record. They have gone back and chosen different songs that people don’t expect to hear, and reworked them – I think that is exciting. A band like us have to play the songs that everybody wants to hear almost in the manner that they are accustomed to such as ‘Munich’ and Smokers Outside the Hospital Door’ – people want to hear them and get the previous feelings from when they had seen us before or when they heard them on the radio when they were eighteen. But to go back and dig deeper into our back catalogue and produce acoustic tracks is something we wouldn’t mind doing as a whole group.

Of all the songs on the compilation which one means the most to you?

For me, it’s probably ‘Sugar’ from ‘The Weight of Your Love’ album, because we had gone through a split-up of the group essentially when Chris left. We had released three records and had a massive high and massive low with the band almost ending, so to come out of that with a new band and direction and ferocity of song was great. Everybody in the group was intrinsically involved in making that track. It was a very much a group effort, and that feels very special to me. ‘The Weight of Your Love’ was such a band record – it was written traditionally as a band would, with five guys and with not a lot of other gear, just in a room together jamming around tunes. And to go over to Nashville to make that record with all the history that the town has, and try and emulate the great people who had worked there before was amazing. It’s a special record that sounds beautiful to me, and maybe it was overlooked at the time.

The Editors sound is always evolving you can never be accused of making the same record twice so what can we expect for the next album?

Our challenge was always to evolve and to push ourselves in a direction that maybe we hadn’t thought about on the last record, so maybe we are talking a mini step towards where we are going with the three new tracks on the best of – I think each one of the new tracks is fairly different individually. You’ve got the drive and weird poppiness of ‘Frankenstein’ and then there is ‘Upside Down,’ which is a real groover and probably more like Editors’ tracks of old, but it’s a got a real groove to it that I don’t think we have necessarily harnessed so far. I think as a set of songs they are different anyway, so I think we could use them as a stepping stone to where we are going to go, but it could be somewhere that we haven’t thought of already, and that would be exciting.

How do you feel when going in to record a new record, are you nervous or excited?

I am massively nervous – it’s always my period of extreme stress, I think. I can’t sleep the day before we go in to record. I constantly think about the issues that we might encounter – its a fretful period for me. I think its purely because when we are on stage you do something and it’s gone. People go to live shows for that very reason – that it’s never going to happen again and that’s enthralling, and obviously it’s nerve-wracking getting up in front of a lot of people, but I don’t mind that. My thing about recording is you have a moment that’s going to be recorded and locked somewhere and digitised forever and ever, and people are going to look back into our history and take a slice into it and say, “This is what Editors sound like.” So I feel huge pressure to get it right, but I’ve always felt like that from day one to now.

Is the album format still important to you?

Yeah, but having said that we’ve got this ‘best of’ going on, which feels almost like an album because it’s got new tracks and it’s got its own identity to it. It’s got a strong look, and we have built something around it that I think people might be able to look at and want to own, rather than thinking, “We can do that ourselves on Spotify.”I think we all feel that it’s really important for a band to make a record. We have always looked at our contemporaries and our inspirations before us – bands like R.E.M for example, or Fleetwood Mac, or the Cure – we have always looked at them putting out records and bodies of work that include long players, and things for people to get their teeth into. I don’t think we will discard that idea at all – I think we will always want to records LPs.

The band will also be embarking on a 27 date European and UK Greatest Hits tour in early 2020. What kind of show do you have planned?

We have kind of thought about it – it’s going to wrap up a lot of the stuff that we started to do on the last album. There will be a new stage show and a new selection of songs. I think we will probably try and play all three of the new tracks, because it is their platform. It is not going to be an album tour per se, because we have got our history to celebrate and it will be the one time we will allow ourselves to do the greatest hits set rather than concentrating on a whole record. We want to have a really good time.

Do you enjoy being on the road?

Massively, yeah I do – I think it’s what I am built for. I’m comfortable travelling and experiencing different cultures and cities in a very short space of time. Bus travel is almost my happy place – it’s working, but it makes me feel like I’m necessary and I enjoy it.

You are looking back over the last 15 years what has been your highlights?

It’s funny because as you are doing it, you kind of miss things. For example, you miss the feeling of walking on stage at Glastonbury for the first time because it is wrapped up with another show the next night, and one the previous night, the gravity of it doesn’t affect you. We played Top of the Pops when it was on – that was nuts. We did an acoustic session on a building in the middle of Belgium just before Christmas about ten years ago. That was a special experience.

Nobody knew we were going to be there, and there was an excitement around it, and people were very positive about us being there, and we raised a lot of money for charity. We have been allowed to do visits with Oxfam to highlight the plight of refugees and to able to have that opportunity through the job that you do, from writing and playing a few songs to people around the world is amazing. It’s opened up so many different worlds to us and we have met so many good friends along the way. One thought about something we have done over the last fifteen years triggers another thought, and I could speel out all this stuff that goes on forever. So for us to make an album and the sense of that album means we can appreciate all that time, and we can appreciate the work that we’ve put into it, is a pretty cool moment.

EDITORS announce the release of their best of album 'Black Gold', out October 25th 2

Black Gold Track Listing:
Disc 1
1. Frankenstein
2. Papillon
3. Munich
4. Sugar
5. Hallelujah (So low)
6. An End Has A Start
7. Upside Down
8. Bullets
9. Ocean Of Night
10. No Harm
11. Smokers Outside Hospital Doors
12. A Ton Of Love
13. Magazine
14. The Racing Rats
15. Black Gold
16. No Sound But The Wind

Disc 2 (Deluxe Version only)
1. Violence (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)
2. Walk The Fleet Road (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)
3. Blood (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)
4. Let Your Good Heart Lead You Home (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)
5. Smokers Outside The Hospital Door (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)
6. Fall (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)
7. Two Hearted Spider (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)
8. Distance (Distance: The Acoustic Recordings)


Thu 30 Jan France, Paris – Salle Pleyel
Fri 31 Jan Germany, Dusseldorf – Mitsubishi Electric Halle
Sat 1 Feb Belgium, Antwerp – Sportpaleis
Mon 3 Feb Germany, Berlin – Velodrom
Tue 4 Feb Poland, Krakow -Studio
Wed 5 Feb Poland, Warsaw -Torwar
Fri 7 Feb Austria, Vienna -Gasometer
Sat 8 Feb Croatia, Zagreb – Dom Sportova Zagreb
Mon 10 Feb Italy, Rome – Atlantico
Tue 11 Feb Italy, Milan – Alcatraz
Wed 12 Feb Italy, Milan – Alcatraz
Fri 14 Feb Switzerland, Zurich – Komplex 457
Sat 15 Feb Switzerland, Fribourg – Fri-Son
Mon 17 Feb Spain, Madrid – The Box (Wizink Center)
Tue 18 Feb Spain, Barcelona – Razzmatazz

Thu 27 Feb UK, Birmingham – Arena Birmingham
Fri 28 Feb UK, London – The SSE Arena Wembley
Sat 29 Feb UK, Manchester – O2 Apollo – SOLD OUT
Mon 2 Mar Ireland, Dublin – Vicar Street
Tue 3 Mar UK, Glasgow – Barrowland – SOLD OUT

Fri 27 Mar Greece, Thessaloniki – Principal Theatre
Sat 28 Mar Greece, Athens – Tae Kwan Do Arena
Wed 1 Apr Ukraine, Kiev – StereoPlaza
Fri 3 Apr Russia, Moscow – GlavClub
Sat 4 Apr Russia, St. Petersburg – Morze

Mon 22 June Germany, Hamburg – Stadtpark
Sat 27 June Netherlands, The Hague – Zuiderpark

Xsnoize Author
Mark Millar is the founder of XS Noize and looks after the daily running of the website as well as conducting interviews for the XS Noize Podcast. Mark's favourite album is Achtung Baby by U2.

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