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- Posted on Oct 8th 2009 10:30AM by Stephen Dowling
So Editors decided to delve into electronica, and their third record ditches the atmospheric guitars of their first two albums -- 'The Back Room' and 'An End Has a Start' -- for a sound more redolent of New Order or Depeche Mode.
Now it's Editors' change of direction which is dividing the critics. Some say it's a welcome update, others a cynical ploy to snare new fans. It would, it seem, be a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.
Singer Tom Smith, however, isn't letting the slings and arrows directed at 'In This Light and On This Evening' get to him. If not combative, he's confident, and tells Spinner all about the reasons for their electro-direction, working with famed producer Flood and sci-fi soundtracks.
Your sudden change seems to have split the press -- and some of your fans -- into differing camps.
It's interesting, especially in this country, the way we're received by the press. It really does split. Some people are saying it's the best thing we've ever done, other people are saying it's too calculated and it's the worst thing we've ever done.
I'm very proud of the record, I've lived with it a long time now and I definitely think it's the best thing we've ever done. I know I would say that but I genuinely think that.
So what prompted the change in the Editors' sound?
In summer 2008 we wrote a song called 'No Sound Like the Wind' and it was one of the first songs we wrote for the new record, and we played it at a few festivals, like Glastonbury when we played the main stage... and it was more in keeping with what we'd done before. Chris [Urbanowicz] was on guitar, and it was fine. It was OK. It was good. And some of the fans were quite excited.
But it felt like when we got in a room, a slight formula had crept in to the way we would naturally do things, the way we would approach a song rhythmically, the stuff Chris was doing, the way I used my voice. It just felt like we'd fallen in to a formula. Even though the song was good, it was terrifying to think we were just rehashing what we'd done before.
Immediately when we finished touring and the writing started, we knew we had to approach it differently. Chris stopped writing on guitar, he was writing on keyboards, and my demos equally had more synth elements in there.
Two of the band have now moved to New York. Is that making writing more difficult?
We don't live in the same house, the same town, the same country anymore really. But even when we did live in the same house before the first record, the songs would go to each other on MiniDisc, and then we'd live with them for a period of time.
Once I'd written a few songs, they'd pile up and we'd have loads of different ideas and then we'd get into the rehearsal room as Editors and try and make these things into Editors songs.
How was working with Flood?
It was amazing. He doesn't have an overbearing producer presence. It didn't feel like you were in the presence of someone greater than you. There's a lot of history there -- he's made a lot of records. When we first started talking about who we wanted to make the record with, Flood was on the top of my list, but he wasn't on the top of everyone else's lists. I think the fact he had so much history and was so much of a name was actually a negative to them. I think they wanted someone with less baggage, someone hungrier, a bit younger. But then when we met him and he talked about how he wanted to work, and when he sat in on rehearsals, we thought, 'Yeah, this is right.' He wanted to make the record quickly and record it live and not spend hours over-analysing every sound, every drum.
You've talked about 'Blade Runner' and 'The Terminator' scores being an influence.
It's funny. Those influences began to creep in, and it started to become fun to imagine putting music to images rather than referencing other bands or whatever. The way ['Blade Runner'] looks, Van Gelis' score the bleak vision of the future, we drew inspiration from it.
It wasn't by design. Chris just started writing on synth, and I thought 'that reminds me of something'... and it was 'The Terminator.' It's an amazing industrial, ominous piece of music. So it really was fun to think about music in those visual terms. And then the fact we were coming from the more acoustic instruments, to play keyboards which are machines.
Editors' 'In This Light and On This Evening' is out on Monday Oct. 12.
Watch our exclusive clip of the band playing 'Papillon' live in London here.