- Mon, 2011-01-17 10:05
When we last spoke, Everything Everything were still deciding the track order for their debut album Man Alive. Finally released in August, the album scored high in the charts and featured even higher on a vast swathe of '2010 best of' lists. The band have gone from cult hopefuls to indie smash-hits, and as testament to their remarkable progress, they bade farewell to 2010 with a pair of very special concerts, for which they were joined onstage by a fifteen-piece classical ensemble.
We met up with the lads the day after their last gig of 2010 to chat about the event, their experiences over the last six months, album number two and future plans.
ILM: We saw you at the Union Chapel last night and it was brilliant! How did you feel when you came off stage?
Jeremy: Pretty elated, in a way that normally we’re not. You can get quite blasé doing the normal show on tour. We’ve played around 95 gigs this year, and we’ve only done two like last night. There's a sense of accomplishment, because there are so many people involved. It was a hugely collaborative effort; the two arrangers Ben Cotrell and David Coyle, the promoters, our management, and obviously the fifteen people who were on stage with us.
ILM: How did the collaborative process take shape? How long did it take to build the show?
Michael: We started work on it a few months ago. Tentatively at first. We knew David – one of the arrangers – and he knew Ben. We’ve done all sorts with David over the last couple of years, so we knew that he understood the band. He and Ben brought in the musicians, some of whom we already knew from the Little Noise session we’d done at Union Chapel. That was what sparked the idea basically.
Jeremy: We’d done four or five songs for Little Noise, and sketched out arrangements for a string quintet. It was a very basic template for the kind of thing we wanted to do.
Michael: So I suppose it’s kind of been a year in the making.
Jeremy: In fact, the day the record came out we all went out and bought it, went for a meal and got hammered, and at some point someone posited the idea. We woke up the next day and calls were being made!
ILM: It’s something of a musical milestone to have your record interpreted in such a grandiose manner; have you got any more similar ambitions?
Jonathan: We’d quite like to do some vocal work with a choir.
Jeremy: That was something we deliberately omitted this time around. It can get quite grand and bloated, especially with a band like ours that has quite a lot of vocal stuff going on already. If we got thirty extra people to sing what we’re already singing it could be a very pompous sound.
Alex: Yeah, but if you do it well… A cappella for example. We’d love to have a bash at something like that.
ILM: When we spoke last time you were just about to go on tour with Delphic, how was that?
Jeremy: We had a really good time on that tour with Delphic. We had a really good time on the NME tour with Darwin Deez as well, but we weren’t really used to the level of media attention, small though it still was. We’re now totally used to it, but it was a learning curve. With Delphic it felt like we were off duty, going back to the support slot when we’d been co-headlining with Hurts. We didn’t come away wanting to make a club record, as we’d thought we might do! Actually, they came away from that tour wanting to sound like us!
ILM: Now you’re a headline band, what makes a good Everything Everything support artist?
Michael: I suppose someone who’s a bit of a contrast, who perhaps hasn’t got too much going on in their music.
Alex: It’s good to have someone who challenges us. Someone that we watch and think “man, they’re good!”
Jonathan: One of our favourite support acts has been a band called Findo Gask. They’re basically quite similar to us, but better!
Alex: It sort of made you want to work harder.
Jeremy: It did. It was personable electronic pop music.
Jonathan: I guess if it scares you a bit it’s good.
Michael: James [Blake, supported the band at the Union Chapel] said yesterday “I’m going to start singing without effects on my voice so much,” and he said that was because he’d been inspired by us.
Jonathan: What have we done! That’s why people like him!
Jeremy: He’s brilliant. He’s going to have an amazing year, and he deserves it. Limit To Your Love is easily the most straightforward thing in his set. His stuff overall is weirdly avant-garde and jazzy. It’s even got some clichéd ‘90s soul chords in it, from things like the Michael Jackson middle eights. I think it’s a really good thing that that’s considered a possible mainstream hit for the coming year. He probably won’t be, but it’s good that he’s in the starting blocks. I think he’s going to do as well out of these two gigs as us. A good fifty percent of the online feedback that we’ve had has mentioned him as well. People seem equally into what he’s doing.
ILM: When we last spoke, Man Alive had just been mixed and you were still deliberating over the track order. How do you feel about the record now it’s been out for six months?
Jeremy: We had a long break of about six weeks at one point, and we had some bits and pieces coming up so went back to rehearsal. We decided to play the album sequentially, which we’d never done before, and we really enjoyed it! But, if you make an album and say at the end “I am categorically, 100% happy with this, we couldn’t have bettered it,” then there’s something wrong. We preferred the reviews that gave us slightly lower marks and highlighted the weaker and stronger points to those that just gushed.
ILM: There's some strong lyrical moments on the record, how do you approach lyric writing?
Jonathan: I write things down here and there, mostly on my phone. Often it just reflects things that I’m thinking about, or things that someone has said. Or I note down relationships between words that I’ve suddenly realised, like this rhymes with that, or those two words together sound like that. When I come back to it later I’ll think of something else completely, and that’ll spark a new thought. Two or three things that I want to sing about will play off each other.
ILM: Harmonies play a large part in your music, how do you approach their development?
Alex: I remember being in rehearsals when we started doing some of the tunes for the record, and we would sing out harmonies and then be like “I’m not sure if that was interesting enough…” There’s a lot of trial and error.
Jonathan: When I’m demoing songs and I put a vocal on it, often I’ll do another couple to thicken it out, and then I’ll just do whatever. Those tend to just stay on the demo and when I bring it to the band we work out which are the unnecessary ones and which ones we can do.
ILM: Have you written anything new recently?
Jonathan: We haven’t had much of a chance, but there have been a few things.
Alex: There are a couple of things knocking around, which are exciting.
ILM: Still all on laptops?
Jonathan: To begin with, yeah. But what we played last night started on a laptop, so it can go anywhere!
ILM: Can you tell us anything about likely themes and directions for your second album?
Jeremy: It probably won’t be born until 2012. That much is pretty certain.
Jonathan: We can’t tell you a great deal, because we don’t know ourselves. We’ve only started a few songs...
Jeremy: I don’t think we’re going to write songs like Weights or Come Alive Diana again. We haven’t discussed this, so they might completely disagree with me, but I don’t think we’ll take that hotch-potch approach again.
Alex: Jon will just do whatever comes naturally come to him. He’s definitely become a more refined writer.
Jeremy: There’s a lot of garish youthfulness on the record, which is a perfectly honest representation of our first two years as a band. That’s fine. We’re happy with that. Some of the last things we wrote on the record may be an indication of where we want to go next time…but maybe not.
Jonathan: That’s what’s good about it, there are a lot of different directions we can go in. We don’t have any idea, as you can tell! Haha!
ILM: Will you work with producer David Kosten again?
Jonathan: We’re looking at working with him on something in the new year. Just some demos. Long-term; again, we have no idea!
Jeremy: He understands us. We have a very comfortable relationship with him.
Alex: He’s a great guy, but we haven’t written the songs, and until you’ve written the songs you aren’t in a position to tell who the right candidate is.
Jeremy: When we made Man Alive he really was everything that you could want from a producer. He was father, councillor, manager… He understands how to pace a record, and how to deal with the occasional massive emotional cost of being locked in a cottage together for three weeks at a time!
Alex: We just got really comfortable with him. You can ask him if what you’re doing is any good, and you’re happy for him to say “no!” You can really look to him for knowledge of what to do next and be confident that he’ll work with you rather than just dictate.
ILM: How do you feel, looking back on your progress in 2010?
Jeremy: It’s really good to have ended on these shows, because we get to look at the constituent parts of these songs again, and get excited about them again. We could easily just have toured right up to the end of the year and felt exhausted and mechanical. I don’t feel like that at all. I feel much more invigorated.
Alex: We’ve tried to push ourselves all the way through the year, straying outside of our comfort zone and trying to become a better band. There’s still a long way to go, but I feel like we’re going to do some more ridiculous things!
Jeremy: Not that we think we’re doing anything new with last night; it’s just new to us. Arguably new for a band on their first record.
ILM: What can we expect in 2011?
Jeremy: Lots and lots of festivals, a single in January, and then another single in April...
Alex: And hopefully some new songs!
Jonathan: There’s a UK tour with NME in February, then Europe in March, then India for the rest of the entire year!
Jeremy: Touring Hard Rock cafes. We actually almost did that at the very end of 2009!
ILM: What have you been listening to recently?
Jonathan: James Blake.
Jeremy: Mount Kimbie.
Michael: Joanna Newsom.
Alex: Bronski Beat for me! And Neneh Cherry, Egyptian Hip Hop, Interpol and Deerhoof...