Lollapalooza UPDATE: The below poster is indeed the real lineup for…
- Posted on Sep 24th 2012 4:00PM by Sarah Kurchak
"The whole surfing image is... it's been frustrating, to be honest, because people start saying that I play surf music and no one even knows what surf music is," Howard tells Spinner as he prepares for his triumphant return to North America for a slew of sold out dates in increasingly bigger venues. "I probably talk about surfing more than actually going in the sea nowadays."
He does admit that the water has had a certain influence on his lyrics, but so has the rest of the outside world.
"I do talk about the sea now and then because that's what I'm familiar with, but I don't think it's influenced it too heavily. I think, definitely, your surroundings as a songwriter always influence you. I've got little bits of the countryside in there."
From the very first lyrics on opening track "Old Pine," evoking hot sand underfoot, pine cones and stars," the singer's debut album, Every Kingdom, which was recently short-listed for the Mercury Prize, is loaded with beautiful natural imagery. But the presence of bleaker seasons often lurks on the edges of the songs, with declarations like "winter shall howl at the walls" in the final song, "Promise."
When asked about the way that weather has colored his lyrics, Howard confesses a fondness for the less promising times of year.
"I think I like the autumn, because it's kind of ominous. Winter's just behind it, but everything's sleepier and it's quite cool, but you know everything's going to get dark real soon," he muses.
"There's definitely something looming on the whole record," Howard continues. "But it's not a depressing record. In places, it's definitely melancholic. A lot of time and thought went into it, so there's some songs that are pensive, but hopefully it's obviously not too downbeat. I try to paint a positive spin on stuff."
The singer also held back when he was selecting songs for the album for fear of coming off as too macabre right out of the gate.
"There were a couple that didn't make it on the record because it was like 'No. As a debut record, people are just going to think I'm weird,'" he says with a laugh. "I think you sort of have to earn that bleakness, as well. I think you have to go through a bit of light before you can get to that stage and be like 'Yeah. This is how I feel!' and be dark and menacing."
Although there are a "a few darker ones in the pipeline" for the next album, Howard is quick to point out that his sophomore album, which he's been casually writing on the road whenever he gets the chance, isn't going to be all doom and gloom.
"I think it'll be a mix, you know? I definitely think there will be a lot more content on the second record, and I think my songwriting has improved as well, which is always really nice. There's glimpses of it on the first record. 'Black Flies' is my favorite track on that. I think it's the best song on the album. So more along that line."
There will also be some electric guitar on the new album. Howard, who is primarily an acoustic player, has been plugging in lately and he's been pleased with the results of his experiments.
"I play the electric quite a lot at the moment," he says. "There's a few new songs that are more electric bound. I still play a lot of acoustic as well. I try not to stick to any sort of routine or anything, but I've definitely been enjoying playing a bit of electric guitar.
"For me, it's a whole new instrument. It's a whole different feel. You've really got to muscle an acoustic guitar and electric, you've kind of got to touch it lightly and encourage it instead of just stamp on it. So it's been a really funny little learning curve," he says. "It's going to be a mix of electric and acoustic. I've got... I've definitely been writing some pretty interesting songs."