Gloomy aspects of life aren’t a total new territory for a band like Editors. During the past fifteen years the group always appeared to be closer to the darker aspects of life than the brighter ones, despite having a sense of hope within their music as well. Editors are the antidote to bands like Coldplay. They can perform in front of constantly growing masses but still give you the feeling that not everything’s okay. Discomfort and anger are always present in the sound of Editors and their brand new sixth studio album Violence proves that once again. It’s a record filled with tension but also a lot of emotion, showing the band from their grittier but also more accessible side. It’s an adventurous ride that will surely help to move their own legacy and status forward to a new audience, that much is for sure.
But what are the things that cause anger and discomfort in your daily life? For many people it can actually be things that one would usually consider comforting. So, what if a lovely dinner with your family is actually quite a horrible scenario for you as you don’t feel safe in such an environment? To take this ironic twist even further we decided to confront singer Tom Smith and guitarist Justin Lockey with Small Pleasure Cards to see whether they would actually cause the opposite of their original intention. Because in general this set – released by ‘The School Of Life’ – actually displays beautiful photographs of life’s small pleasures; something to comfort you and make you feel alright. Well, sometimes we can be nihilistic assholes, right? So, prepare yourself for a slightly different interview approach with Tom and Justin from Editors from here on.
‘A brief burst of righteous anger’
When was the last time that happened?
J: Every single day.
T: I remember seeing you putting guitars down in Nashville. There was a lot of anger.
J: Because I was in a room ten miles away from everyone and I couldn’t see anyone. It was the first record I made with these guys. It was like – guys just ditch me here to nail the guitars. In terms of this record though, I haven’t been angry at all. If I do get angry, it’s usually about politics or religion. In regard to the band there is no reason to be angry about apart from backing up hard drives and leads not working when we recorded.
J: Being angry, it’s definitely internal for me.
T: I was probably more angry making In Dream than this new record. (laughter)
Was it a conscious decision to make Violence sound this way – did themes of the new songs provide the anger?
J: I struggle with the word conscious a bit. You’re right, there is a backdrop to a lot of the new songs. There is an acceptance or acknowledgement of the outside world. That’s where the word ‘violence’ comes from and why it resonated with the record, but what’s important is the human connection. A relationship or friendship, something physical. To me, the record focuses on people. Of course, there is a bit of anger in there as well. The world we live in at the moment is an angry place.
Tell us about yours.
J: This is bang on and how we’re living.
T: I found a way of sharing these things without having to talk about them with the people that are close to me. (laughter) It’s very rare that I actually sit down to write a sad song. Even if there is a dark lyric, it’s the lyrics in these songs that have hope in them that resonates with me, even in the wider context if it seems like a sad song. No Sound But The Wind is quite a sad song, but it’s still about the protection of innocence and there’s a beauty there, too. I stay hopeful by focusing on my children and my friends. The human interaction or random acts of kindness you sometimes see on the street. Like I was shopping with my two boys and my wife in Ryman’s, a stationary shop, and in there you can get flyers printed. There was a little old lady in the front of the queue and she dropped something so a guy next to her picked it up and asked what she was doing in the shop. The lady told him she printed some flyers for some charitable thing and the guy ended up paying for all the flyers which was wonderful. The old lady was shocked, but it was beautiful.
J: It’s so surprising to see something like this happen in a city like London these days.
T: It’s usually full of scumbags walking around. (laughter)
Nice bits of religion you don’t believe in?
J: I don’t believe in any religion. I guess the general principles of religions like sharing, looking after one another, respect, family – I can dig on a lot, that’s good. A lot of that is kind of tight to being in a band. You’re together a lot. In the studio, on tour, or when you’re doing press days.
Do you guys have a religious background?
J: Not really, I mean I went through the catholic school education, but I ditched that as soon as I got out of school. Maybe even while I was still in school because I didn’t believe in any of it. I think if people just stuck to their principles and didn’t hype up the dogmatic principles behind it all that is just made up of bollocks that would be a start. We’re in the 21st century, you can talk to a phone that can book you a cab or you can do your shopping via a robot system, you don’t have to believe in some dude hidden behind the clouds nobody has seen and nobody knows. And trading this for money across the world is just…pff, come on. But the nice bits about religion, I’m totally down with all of them. What is the original message of every religion – don’t be a dick, don’t kill anyone. These are simply things you can do without needing anyone in a massive cathedral telling you to do so. You can get this done just by waking up and not being an idiot.
It just feels a bit outdated, doesn’t it?
J: I don’t think religion is a concept build for our times. I think it’s had its day. It has made its money. It has started enough wars in the world or wars are still being fought because of it. If you take that away, everyone would be a lot nicer.
‘Realizing you both dislike the same popular person’
Who would that be?
T: We both bond over hatred for…there’s very obvious ones.
J: Politicians who are serving everything up, but I want to think of someone else…
J: Oh, I don’t mind him at all.
T: Well, he does talk about money too much in interviews.
J: Oh ok, fuck him! No, but that’s too easy…it can’t be him. He’s too easy as a target. Who’s popular these days?
Maybe in terms of your own rich back catalogue of songs, is there a song you can’t stand anymore?
J: I don’t think I really hate any of our old songs. To hate something, you have to put a lot of energy into it. I like to use my energy for pure, sheer anxiety or music or good things.
T: I think with a certain age, you don’t hang on to things like that. Things that aren’t too important. You let them go. But songs are interesting…hate is too strong, but there are songs in our back catalogue that you can’t really not play them.
‘Feeling someone else is so wrong’
How often does that happen to you?
J: This happens all the time. I just tell people they are wrong if that’s how I feel. Then we have a little argument before we come back to the fact that they are wrong (laughter). No! In what we’re doing as a band, we don’t ever really get to a situation where we feel someone else is so wrong, do we? It’s all just opinions. If there was something that was so wrong, we would take it off the agenda.
T: Everything is really up for a debate. If there is like a genuine difference of opinion, we take a vote. My vote obviously counts for a couple of more…(laughter)
So making Violence was a smooth process for you in general?
T: The song Magazine was around for a little while, but we came back to it and it came out of the shadows when we were making this record. It asked to be recorded again. Sort of. In terms of our label or management, nobody has ever talked about this song like it should be the first single or anything. There was just total silence about it. At the every end of the process, the record was done, all of a sudden Magazine was made like the focus point of the album. Why did nobody tell us that in the beginning? We just stuck with it.
Speaking of songs that were stuck with you for a while, how come No Sound But The Wind ended up being on the album?
T: Yeah, I changed the lyrics when we put a version of the song on the Twilight soundtrack, but that was just a demo being recorded in my front room. The band had never recorded that song. It just felt like a song we had to draw a line under. There is a live version of it that had a significance in Belgium, but Belgium only. The song has a bit of a history, but we never recorded it so it felt like the record needed a moment of calm. There is quite a lot of frantic electronics.
J: There is quite a lot of in your face stuff on there.
T: Big moments and loudness and melody and sonic attack. It just felt like the album needed something more calm. I talked about it with Leo (Abrahams), the producer and he loved the song. I found a way of playing the piano that wasn’t quite the same way as people knew then. It feels like we were able to put a full stop after it. Every song has a different story and journey. I always think it’s interesting if something comes from your past, like Magazine. Sometimes it’s good to revisit things. It just happens.
‘Crying carthatically over the death of a fictional character’
Who got you all teary-eyed?
J: That was when Bambi was getting shot…or before Murphy gets shot, he turns into RoboCop.
T: I did not cry during RoboCop.
J: I cry during most films. I’m a mess!
T: I tell you what you got me recently which I’ve been banging about a lot. It’s not about death though. The film Paddington 2.
J: I feel like I’m crying all the time watching films. With every emotional crescendo.
T: Emotional manipulation by HD drama.
J: Only when I’m tired though. If there is a Max Richter song in there, I’m dead anyway.
T: Arrival was quite moving actually. They keep going back to Max Richter’s song On The Nature Of Daylight and it’s beautiful. And so sad.
Violence, the new Editors album, arrives on Mar 9 via PIAS. The band is also about to embark on a big tour, supporting it.