Editors [Interview]

Editors [Interview]

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Editors have enjoyed a rather swift rise to the top as far as British bands in the U.S. go. Nearly half a year after playing cozy L.A. venue Spaceland, the band sells out Hollywood’s Avalon theatre that boasts a near 1,500 capacity. Back home in the U.K., the band’s ascent has been far more rapid. From modest shows to headlining festivals and a Mercury Prize nomination, Editors were anointed U.K.’s next big thing in a year that also saw that title going to acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and perhaps already “big thing” Muse.

Their sound has been namechecked with bands ranging from Joy Division to Coldplay —fair, although they lack Coldplay’s flair for over production. What they do have is that edge that sparked the initial interest of hipster audiences and then subsequently won over the devotion of those who, renowned music writer Simon Reynolds would refer to as, “the great unhip masses.” A combination that makes for big shows…and happy record labels.

Talking with drummer Ed Lay and guitarist Chris Urbanowicz backstage at the Avalon is literally like talking to an odd couple. As Ed leans in to the tape recorder with each question and politely answers in detail, Chris sits back smugly, checks his watch and utters quips with the driest of wit and perhaps arrogance. They’re honest, they seem tired and they really want to catch the end of opening band Cold War Kids’ set.

TS: What does it feel like to go from playing a venue like Spaceland that is relatively quaint to headlining the Avalon?

EL: I had a big moment today when I walked out onto the balcony and thought, ‘Fuck, we’re actually headlining this.’ We’ve only played here like twice so it’s cool to come back to this…that Spaceland show was probably the best of the tour.

TS: You know, it takes a bit of time for most British bands to cross over to larger American audiences. It seems you all have rather quickly. Would you agree?

EL: We haven’t really noticed how [quick] it’s been because for the last twenty months we were just going on tour. It’s been quite gradual. We’ve just been consistently going out and working on the shows. It doesn’t feel incredibly quick to us although I guess coming over here you can tell the difference in [venue] size.

TS: Have you had any chance to work on writing material for the new album during this tour?

EL: We’re shite at writing on the road I suppose so we need to stop completely to get time on our own with the four of us together. We get time at sound checks occasionally but that’s not ideal because there are so many other people milling around.

TS: So, is the writing process fairly collaborative?

CU: It starts with Tom then we try and add some stuff to it. I mean, this fall ‘til December will be our first time to work on it…

TS: Kind of burned out?

CU: Yeah totally. We’ve come up with two songs so we’re ready to write.

TS: Any pressure to put out a solid sophomore album?

CU: I don’t feel it, no. Maybe the time frame worries me—the [label] wants to have it done by the end of year so they can put it out by May or else we’ll lose sales, festival slots…all that shit. The ‘ch-ching!’

TS: So, do you have any ideas as far as particular aspects you’ll be focusing on with the songwriting for new album?

EL: We haven’t agreed on a theme or anything…

CU: There are boring technical things I want to get into. I just got a baritone guitar.

TS: What has been rewarding about this particular tour?

CU: We’ve partied a bit more…

TS: You can get in trouble easily here…

CU: (laughing) Have we?

TS: I’m saying you can, I’m not saying you did. I mean, ‘According to NME…’

EL: I think what’s rewarding is that these are the shows we look forward to the most because [they’re] so different. Touring Europe is ok; touring England is fun. But we’re so far away from home here so you can let loose.

TS: Yes, the old hundred-mile rule. Once you’re past a hundred miles from home anything goes.

EL: Which is easy to do here.

TS: Has anything crazy happened on this tour?

CU: Yes.

TS: That you can talk about?

CU: No.

EL: Nothing really crazy.

TS: I doubt that. Anyhow, what was the last show you guys saw?

EL: We went to Muse in Montreal. They’re really good. I like the new album a lot.

TS: It seems kind of like the Matt Bellamy parade but I like it too.

EL: He’s got one trick really, but he does it well.

TS: Falsetto, guitar and a bit of improvised piano.

EL: Exactly. The new album sounds kind of like Queen.

TS: Yes! Exactly. ‘Knights of Cydonia’ with that a cappella…come on. Speaking of Muse, you both were nominated for a Mercury Prize this year. Did your nomination come as a surprise to you?

EL: The only reason it wasn’t a shock was because our press agent wondered if we were busy on the day they were announcing it. So, ugh, thanks.

CU: Yeah, cheers man…but we thought the [Mercury judges] forgot about us because we missed the [2005] cut off by a week.

TS: Well, last year there was all that Antony controversy so maybe that’s not so bad…

CU: He’s not British.

TS: But he did put out a good record.

CU: I wanted him to win. It was the best album.

TS: So are you content just being nominated?

EL: Of course, we don’t harbor any ambitions of winning because it’s basically up to the experts. It does mean a lot…I’m sure the people at the label are very happy.

CU: It’s just kind of an added credibility thing to be nominated, hah? I mean, winning doesn’t really mean anything. Look at previous winners like Gomez and Ms. Dynamite…where are they now?

Ouch. However, it must be noted that Chris may be on to something as pundit Graeme McPhail concurred in an article called, “The Curse of the Mercury Prize” where he stated, “while on the surface winning the Mercury Prize is an ideal springboard to fame and fortune for any young band, the reality appears to be different. Looking back through history it appears that the award often spells nothing but doom and gloom for the winners.”

So, perhaps it’s fortunate for Editors that Arctic Monkeys went on to win this year’s Mercury Prize…


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