Editors is one of those bands, which never let’s you down. I’ve had a pleasure to see the British quintet twice this year. First, during a meet and greet event with fans and press, which was also a prelaunch listening party of their album Violence, and second after just 2 months, before their concert in Warsaw.
I wanted to ask you about the event, that happened a month ago in Warsaw. You presented your new record to press and few lucky fans a month before its release. How often to you do such events and how do you feel about it?
Elliott: This is the first time we’ve done that kind of thing.
Justin: Well, we’ve met fans and stuff before.
Elliott: True, we’re meeting fans after shows, but that kind of event was the first for us. I was slightly nervous about the performance, how it’s going to go, how it’s going to be. What the atmosphere is going to be like. But it actually was super fun.
Justin: I thought it was great. It was a cool place. Everyone was really cool and low key. Everyone was in the mood.
Elliott: Yeah, the atmosphere of it was relaxed. Which is nice, it’s not like we get real doubt to do this. We had a chance to have a real conversation with everyone.
When I think about it, it has to be super stressful, playing new record and looking at people listening to it, see their faces and their reactions, knowing you’re being judged.
Elliott: Luckily, I wasn’t there to witness it.
Justin: It was alright, actually. I think, if you love the band and you get the chance to listen to their new album first, with the band, I think it’s cool. I would be totally up for that. As a band member, it was strange, I’ve never done this before, but everyone was really cool. Everyone was like “alright, let’s listen to your record”. You know, sometimes you go to do signings and stuff and it’s just like pretty intense. Everyone gets shifted along the line and have 20 seconds to say everything they want to say.
Elliott: Yeah, I don’t think signings are that nice for fans. They are not that nice for us either.
Justin: Where during the party everyone was waive around, talk, have some beers, not be so uptight. It was cool, also a nice spot. In a nice part of town. And in a nice city.
I was digging through some past interviews. You were always compared to other bands, sometimes it was Depeche Mode, U2, Joy Division. One time you were described as an antidote to Coldplay. How do you see the comparisons?
Justin: I don’t own any Joy Division records. I listen to U2 probably once a year. Depeche Mode, I guess we actively listen to now and again in the dressing room.
Elliott: We exist in the world, where those bands are, around the dark emotional music. I am cool with it, I’ve made ease with it.
Justin: It’s a bit dramatic. You pose next to Depeche, and we are in the same area of music, kind of dramatic, theatrical gothickness, which certain people are attracted to. We like playing it, we like making it, we like people to see it.
Elliott: Those comparisons are cool bands, I am really OK with it. I personally would go much more with U2 than Mac DeMarco. (laughter)
Justin: It’s just what it is. I mean, the Coldplay thing. Coldplay released one of the biggest songs in the last 15 years. Everyone write Coldplay, because they are successful. And they are one of the most successful bands in the world.
Elliott: They have a bunch of incredibly great songs.
Justin: They released the songs people will be born to, get married to and die to. How many bands can say that? Queen, The Beatles, Stones, Coldplay.
And Maroon 5.
Justin: True, Maroon 5.
Is there any band you would want to personally be compared to?
Elliott: It’s already happening. I don’t know, REM, The Cure. Basically, the bands who have careers. And they’ve made records, that changed people’s lives. They’ve changed, developed and grown, they’ve pushed things forward.
Justin: Bands, who tell a story, not just make one or two records and then disappear. Tell a story of a time. As people grow at the same time as the band. You’re never the same person you were when you’ve made the first record and when you’re making the sixth. And neither is the person listening to it. They may be teenagers when you release the first album, they may have kids, when you release the sixth. And they find out all of a sudden, that their lives are hard to navigate. It’s nice to be a miserable soundtrack to it. (laughter)
And you always evolve. When people say you’ve evolved and put out a totally different record, then you started with and they don’t like the electronic part of the album, I personally think it’s bullshit. Everyone evolves in one way or another. You wouldn’t put something out, you’re not feeling comfortable with.
Elliott: Right, every band wants to do something satisfactory, you’ll always find people, who won’t like it really. They would say your attempts are wrong. You can’t win. They are focused on something and think, that’s the way it should be. If you don’t like what we do at the time, that’s fine. The same thing goes with other bands.
Justin: It’s natural. If you stay around and do the same thing forever, you’ll just be a really boring band. You’ll be bored with what you do and there will be few hardcore fans, who will stay with you. The venues will just get smaller and smaller, until you’re left with just that one person, who only likes the early songs. And it’s like meh.
So actually, you start with one person and you end with one person. The cycle closes.
Justin: You’ve got to move on. There may be a record fans started with and they will always love this record, but may not follow the band for the rest of their careers. The trick is, to just keep moving and see, who follows along the way.
This is the definition of having a great fan base.
Elliott: We’ve been very fortunate.
I’ve spoken to some of your fans during the event last month and there was this one girl, I remember being super excited, jamming to every song. She is a very lovely person.
Justin: It’s good when you see a reaction. In a completely unrelated country, in a completely unrelated time. That your music affects someone halfway around the world, in a way you would never really expect.
“Cold” is my favorite, also am super happy about “No sound but the wind” being put on Violence. When I was growing up, Twilight Saga was huge and I am thrilled I have a vinyl with one song I loved from the franchise soundtrack.
Elliott: It’s nice to do it properly as well. The first version of the song was recorded in Tom’s bedroom. We feel like, with rerecording this particular song, we’ve really done it justice.
In another interview, you’ve talked about young bands, who are trying to get to the top right now. You’ve said, that they stand no chance, if they don’t wow everyone on the first take. If they are not showing the full scale, they have, they will be forgotten.
Justin: It’s tough, because everything a band does is documented from day one. It’s on social media, someone has a bad opinion, like “I saw this band and they are fucking terrible” and then all their friends are going to think they are terrible. And who’s fucking great on their first record? No one is really that great on their first tour.
Elliott: It’s really tough, everything is under the microscope. For band starting right now it’s really hard, I really do feel for people. And you see the grass roots pull away from it.
But isn’t it easier for bands to be heard, because of social media?
Justin: It is easier to put out a record. But the whole machinery behind the band, having the label in place, it’s much tougher. Labels don’t fund guitar bands anymore.
Elliott: It’s easier to put it out there. It’s easier to record a song on your laptop. So when you write a song as a band now, you probably play it two or three times, before you record it. When back in the day we wouldn’t be able to record…
Justin: … until we went to the studio. We had to be so well rehearsed.
Elliott: And that’s exactly when you’re good as a band, practicing and playing.
Justin: I could wake up tomorrow morning, write a song, record it in the afternoon and finish it in the nighttime. Label it in the night and put it out the day after.
Elliott: Which is brilliant.
Justin: In some ways it’s brilliant. For some kind of music it’s great. But if you are trying to make something that is real, or has emotional depth to it, which involves a visual element to it, use the craft of making a record and put the songs together, you need time for that, you need support. And then unless you’ve got your band on certain sides, you don’t really have that support in place. Which makes it harder, since you always need to find the way of doing things. Especially for guitar bands it’s really hard, because you can’t afford to go on tour, since there’s no one supporting you. You can’t cover your expenses, you’re out of pocket. You’re already out of pocket anyway cause you decided to be in a fucking guitar band. (laughter) That means, if you’ve made this decision, you’re not that great, since it’s not a good place to start. It’s better to be a DJ instead. It’s fucking easier! (laughter)
Let’s go back to your album for a second. Why Violence?
Elliott: I think it comes a little back to what we were talking about. It’s not so much about Violence in the record, but about the outside world. 24/7 on your phone, rolling news, hyper political reality.
Justin: Left to right noise 24 hours a day. You kind of lose the fact of what’s in front of you and the people you have all around you. What Tom’s trying to get out in his characters, he praise and sings through in the record, is that ability to switch off the outside world briefly, to acknowledge the human connections, which is all that comes down anyway. That’s pretty much the summation of the album. It’s the unit of human connection.
What I actually like about this album is that it’s not an album you can play as a background to a party. You need to focus, when you listen to it, you immediately just go into thinking.
Justin: It would be a bleak party, if you played it as a background. (laughter) There’s a couple of tracks you could jam to. If I came to a party where this record was played, I would be like “Oh man, I’m not staying here long. This is a dark party”. But yeah, this is a very focused narrative, which sits well with the political world we live in. Like you said, you can just dive straight into it, listen to it. Which kind of reflects how we’ve been making it, very focused.
There are not a lot of records like that these days.
Justin: We’re old-school. And old. (laughter)
Elliott: We tried to make a record, not just one song people are going to buy. We worked on every single song and every single track, so we could make the best of it. It’s a very big compliment, that you’re sitting, listening and pay attention to it. That is our aim. As a band we still believe in a record, as a concept and the body of work.
On the album cover you can see and feel violence.
Justin: That’s just the genius of the photographer we worked with, Rahi Rezvanim, who took our picture. It just looks like painting. It’s crazy, I didn’t know you could do that.
There are a lot of emotions, the face expressions especially.
Elliott: What I like about it is, everyone has a different interpretation of it, of what the scenario is. Which is great.
Do you have one favorite song from the album?
Elliott: It’s funny, but they change. At the moment, because we are on tour, my favorite one is “Counting Spooks”, because we are not playing it at the moment. So if I hear it, I’m like “ Oh, I didn’t hear this one in a while”.
Justin: I can say this one as well, cause we’re not playing it every night. When you play the same songs from your record every single night, none of them can be your favorites. They can be your favorites to play live, so in a different way. But actually my favorite track on the record is “Counting Spooks”, all along.
Elliott: Mine is “Cold” actually.
So it’s actually like, when you want to hate a certain song, put it as your alarm clock ringtone. Goes the same with the set list.
Elliott: It changes the perception of the track.
And how was working with Blanck Mass?
Justin: It was really easy, cause all we had to do was to bring him up, that was pretty much the process. We were listening to some of his music, as we were looking for people to work with. And I’ve sent through a message with Blanck Mass’ track, a pretty heavy one. We’ve made a decision to maybe try to work with him and I called him up. I said “hey, do you want to work on some stuff?”. He said “yeah, let’s do it!”. We’ve sent him some stuff and he sent us back what he was doing. And that’s how the relationship stayed. We didn’t meet him for the making of the entire record. I’ve met him after the show, like 3 months after we’ve finished. He was so drunk. But it was great. It was a good time.
Best friendships start with alcohol.
Justin: True. It was just great to work with him, we left him to get on it and we wanted to change nothing. We didn’t want to remix anything, we just let him do, what he wanted to do. We left him with the ability to do that.
It’s not a common thing, to give all the power to a music producer.
Justin: No, but we are quite open. If we have an idea and we feel comfortable with it, we go for it.
Elliott: If we don’t like it, we don’t like it. But you have to be able to try.
Justin: You have to be able to get the best out of people. We were not trying to shape his mind, we told him to do what he wants to do and then we see what we like.
It paid off.
Justin: It totally did.
Thanks for the talk!