Editors are in town to play the first show of their European tour at Belfast's famous Limelight venue. One week ago they released their critically acclaimed 5th record 'In Dream' which went top five in the UK. Elliot Williams and Justin Lockey have been fully fledged members of Editors since their previous record 'The Weight Of Your Love'. Justin and Elliot took time out to have a chat with Mark Millar while the rest of the band were busy sound checking below.
What have you been up since the album was released?
JL: We did some small intimate warm-up shows in Europe to try out the new stuff. We went to Germany, Holland, and Belgium and we have been rehearsing for the tour. We have been pretty busy doing loads of interviews.
‘In Dream’ is your second album as members of Editors, you are no longer the new boys, do you feel comfortable presenting your ideas to the rest of the band?
JL: We have been in the band three and a half years now; the old guitarist only did one more record than us. I’m totally fine I felt comfortable on the last one to be honest because we weren’t in to replace anyone we were brought in to be ourselves and not try to be someone else, so it was dead easy.
EW: I think this album feels like a slightly fresh start there’s no leftover baggage or anything like that. The way that we made this album and the way it came together, it’s a lot more like a think tank, it’s more of a creative thing rather than go into the studio with a producer and engineers. That automatically makes you into a band where one person goes off into a room and everyone else sits and watches them. This record was the five of us all together chucking ideas around.
So did you have more involvement with ‘In Dream’ than ‘The Weight of Your Love’?
JL: Everyone had more involvement in this record than they had on previous records. Ed and Russ had a ton of involvement as well, obviously, they had been involved before but I don’t think they had as much as this record. It’s a fresh start for everyone.
Was there a conscious decision to record an electronic album this time?
EW: it’s hard to say if we ever do anything consciously (laughs).
JL: It takes too much forethought to consciously do something, we just fall into things. It’s more what everyone likes to listen to; I think the album reflects more of our personal taste than the last one.
EW: The last album was very much becoming a band and playing together, there were more set rules Justin needed to be the guitarist, I needed to be the keyboard player. It was about being able to play those songs in a live setting as a band in a room.
JL: Now everyone does everything. This album is very different from the last. There’s always a change on every record, it depends when you come into it if you are going to be into it. If you coming into it with an electronic head on then you’re going to love this record and you will like 'In This Light And On This Evening', through that, you are going to get to the other records anyway at some point it’s just going to take a bit of time.
EW: The thing that is really nice about this band is there are so many different types of the fan base that have come in at different points. You can speak to any fan and they will say “I really like this album and I really like that album.” And from country to country it’s totally different, which keeps us on our toes.
‘In Dreams’ sounds like it could have come out straight after the third album (In The Light And On This Evening).
JL: I think it probably is a continuation of the third album; the last one was just a stop gap in terms of the band’s progression. Musically it goes up to album three, then kind of goes somewhere else for a bit and now comes back to this album.
EW: That last one is very much the album that we had to make for the band to continue really.
JL: There wouldn’t be a band if we didn’t make that record. We all love it, we hung out in Nashville where we made it and we toured for years afterwards, it was great but I think it all led up to making this record.
You recorded ‘In Dream’ away up in the Scottish Highlands, what was a typical day in the studio like?
JL: Wake up about ten, have breakfast and then start work. We would work until really late that night or until the early hours of the morning.
Did you arrive in Scotland with any demos?
JL: Yeah there was quite a few demos kicking around, really basic ones.
EW: Normally Tom writes all the songs and comes in with rough ideas, but this was the first time Justin had sent over demos to Tom.
JL: Usually from the start, Tom comes in with songs that turn into Editors tunes, but this time three or four of mine got in there, so that was a bit weird and probably a weird way for Tom to be working as well, it’s good fun.
So was it a whole new songwriting process for the band?
JL: Yeah the songwriting process has completely changed. I think the way we put everything together has completely changed from the last record. It was more like the way we have always worked outside with other bands; we have worked in this way before Editors had, so for us it was really quite simple to sit in a room and make a record with no studio or producer. ‘Flood’ was probably mentioned when we were talking about this record, I met the band through ‘Flood’ he kind of taught me how to make records.
EW: There are benefits, working with a big producer is incredible they are very talented and some of them are amazing at what they do. When we started the record we didn’t intend to produce it ourselves initially. Then we thought what we were doing in Scotland had a total vibe, you couldn’t buy it anywhere else and do we want to go with ‘Flood’ and change that?
JL: You just have to get the confidence and just do it and have the balls to say “This is our record”.
When was the point you realised that?
JL: After we did ‘No Harm’ which was the second track we recorded. We started with ‘All the Kings’ which went through 3-4 different guises. We recorded ‘No Harm’ in a day; it’s slightly different from the demo. The demo is like an upbeat Kraut-Rock number with loads of brass and strings all over it, but the actual recording of that track took an afternoon.
EW: When we listened back to that we all really liked it, then we sent it to Alan Moulder who mixed the record.
JL: I think we all thought “If we send the track to a producer, what are they going to do with it?” We have already got it to a point where everyone loves it so what is the point spending a lot of time holed up in a studio frustratingly trying to get it to where we had already got it too? We have made enough records between us to crack on and sort it out.
Rachel from ‘Slowdive’ is on the album, what was it like working with her?
JL: A piece of piss! She’s really easy going and she is an Editors fan as well, so that was easier.
EW: It was good fun, we had been up there for a while then, so to having someone else come in who was a human being was great.
JL: She had never recorded in the way we were recording either, she had always been locked away in an isolation booth, so we just stuck her in front of the mike next to me and Tom and she sang. There was no pressure if it worked it worked and if it didn’t it didn’t, but it happened to work on every score.
I was surprised when I first heard the record; I didn’t expect to hear a female voice on any tracks.
JL: Tom talked about it on the last record but I don’t think it would have worked it wasn’t the right time we were too busy trying to be a band, but on this one, we thought why not? It is nice when Rachel’s voice pops out from nowhere.
‘In Dream’ is mainly an electronic record, is this the way you mean to go on?
JL: I don’t know I liked not playing the guitar on it. There will be a time when we have toured the record where everyone will have a sense of where we are heading next. I wouldn’t mind if we go electronic again, its good fun building an electronic record. I reckon it’s more fun than making a guitar record. There’s a lot of old-school analogue gear on there and a lot of trying to make computers talk to each other from different decades going on. It was probably partly made in the same way those Depeche Mode records were made. A lot of Indie bands throw electronics in to make them sound interesting whereas this record was electronic from the ground up. The guitars were a bit of an afterthought, to be honest. The sounds that we got and the sounds that we searched for are all sounds from period piece synthesisers.
Even though it’s an electronic album I think the songs will still work stripped down.
JL: Oh yeah, they have all been written around a piano or a guitar.
EW: I think what this band is about at the forefront is Tom is a great songwriter and he won’t move on from anything if there isn’t a solid song that he can play underneath it.
JL: When we go out and do promo and radio pretty much every song gets turned into an acoustic song and it works just as much, sometimes it works better but you don’t know that until after you have made the record. I like the fact that the songs are versatile. A lot of bands make sonically interesting music but don’t really have any songs, whereas this comes all from the songs first then we go with interesting Sonics afterwards. That’s why we are stood here on record five.
EW: Bands now don’t write songs they just right cool parts and stuff, and I love that music as well but I think fundamentally what makes a classic band is you’ve got to have a great song underneath it.
There aren’t too many bands British bands doing what Editors are doing around these days.
JL: There is only a handful of British bands still around from when they started. This is still growing we are on record five and we have got a number one in Belgium, Holland and Germany today, it’s still growing out there its massive it’s ridiculous. We did better than the last record in the UK; we got a top five in the UK. Usually, bands in the UK scene fade out and burn away, especially if they are not getting support from Radio 1. It gives you a validation to do what you are doing, we are a hard-working band, we tour really hard I don’t think there’s a day that goes past where there are not any Editors related stuff going on somewhere in the world with one of us involved.
Are you excited about the tour?
Both: Yeah definitely!
What can fans expect from the live shows?
EW: We have been working on some production but we can’t fit it in here.
JL: Songs wise there is a lot of new stuff in there, we’ve just got to road test it and see how it goes.
EW: There are five records to choose from now there’s quite a lot of material to try and get in, but it’s funny when you play through it and it goes very quickly and you realise that you haven’t managed to put in many tracks.
Is it a democracy when choosing what songs to play?
JL: Everyone knows that there are songs that you can’t really drop. When it came to the new stuff we had to work through all of it to see what works. We spent a month going through all the parts of all the new songs to see what would work; it was almost like being in the studio again building the tracks.
EW: It was a different record than the last one; it was very ready when we went into the studio whereas with 'In Dream' things have to be tweaked a bit to play it live, you have to navigate things a little bit for the live setting.
What records have you been listening to this year?
JL: The Beach House record is my favourite at the moment; I like the new Mercury Rev record as well.
EW: I like the new Mercury Rev record too. I haven’t bought many records I have bought a lot of weird electronic music. The two guys from ‘Too Many DJs’ have just put out a release that is really good.
Editors are currently on tour. Check HERE for details.