Music interview '“ Everything Everything: '˜You rarely get to make four LPs on a major label these days, especially bands with our kind of dubious success'
Everything Everything bassist Jeremy Pritchard feels weird. Not in a bad way, he clarifies, but the sort-of-surprised manner one can be to find his group about to put out their fourth record.
Since the turn of the decade when they popped up on the BBC Sound of 2010 longlist seven years ago, picked up Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello nominations and outlived several of their contemporaries whilst honing a richly dynamic and cohesive art-rock sound – a 21st-century answer to Roxy Music.
“It’s quite an accomplishment these days,” he observes with a bemused air. “My entry point with so many of the bands I loved as a kid were the fourth record. I remember awaiting Kid A with baited breath in 2000 when I was fifteen, and that completely blew my mind. To think of ourselves as being in a similar timeline is really weird if nothing else. You rarely get to make four albums on a major label these days, especially bands with our kind of dubious success.”
Pritchard’s droll assessment arguably sells Everything Everything’s achievements short. Their latest long-player, A Fever Dream, hits shelves this month, and looks to follow on the heels of previous efforts Arc and Get to Heaven in breaching the top ten of the album charts. It’s the shortest turnaround between albums for them yet, coming a shade over two years since their last. The bassist readily admits that the faster turnaround between albums was influenced by a draining recording process last time out.
“We just wanted to work quicker, stew less, avoid neuroticism,” he acknowledges. “We were mired in a crisis of identity and confidence recording Get to Heaven; it took us a long time to find our feet again and we were kind of cast adrift for a whole year making it. We didn’t break stride in the way did previously with this album. Within the band, we’re quite quixotic; we tried to interpolate the disciplines of touring Get to Heaven, which was a confidence boost for us, alongside writing A Fever Dream. If we mixed the two up, we didn’t get sick of one or the other.”
A Fever Dream is a “companion piece” to Get to Heaven, he says, calling in a record of “emotional fallout” from the latter. The band’s third album was noted for taking their knack of combining bleak, maudlin lyricism with euphoric, energetic musicianship to a nadir – and saw its dark themes become eerily prescient over the following months. If that effort charted the moments before the wave hits, then its follow-up sees Pritchard and bandmates dealing with the consequences left as it ebbs away.
“We’re as far from prophetic as possible, but you could see what has happened coming,” he notes pensively. “There is a sense of battle lines being drawn around the world. The rise of fascism that was capped off by Trump was so insidious, that it made us feel rather complacent. I think a lot of us feel that way. All of our albums are reactions against the previous one to some extent but I think anybody with a conscious is going to put that into their art in 2017.”
How does A Fever Dream build on the juxtaposition of colourful music and fatalistic concepts found in Get to Heaven? “We’re less interested in the overall horror; it’s a more interpersonal collection of songs. Last time, we were concerned with punchy, tight songs; on this one, we were a bit more interested in obfuscation. We’ve brought the two elements together; the sonics are darker, more woozy and dreamy, whilst the lyrics are tender and human. The world is a waking nightmare reality right now, so we’re reflecting that in the sound of the album.” He mulls it over. “I would say that it’s less self-conscious than ever before.”
The band have already premiered new material live across the summer, at a series of intimate gigs – or “regional warmups” as Pritchard amusingly refers to them. These smaller shows allow the band to effectively road-test arrangements, tracks they’re yet to nail and to perfect the setlist mechanics. The week after the album release, they will embark on a run of tiny shows in-store at independent record shops, complete with signing sessions. For the bassist, who grew up pitching in at his local venue, the Tunbridge Wells Forum, he relishes the chance to get close-and-personal with fans.
“It’s like door-knocking, almost!” he exclaims with a laugh. “It’s a very direct promotional campaign, compared with spending the same amount of money on the London Underground. It’s more authentic, more tangible. Record stores are as important now as they ever have been. They’re great local hubs for music. Having that sort of curatorial arbiter of taste is important in the digital age when music service providers just push algorithmic choices in your direction. That’s the lifeblood of music. It’s in my pedigree really.”
Another important milestone looms for Everything Everything in the autumn though, aside from reaching album number four; the season marks ten years since the band formed in Manchester. Do the band have plans to mark the anniversary? Pritchard is coy. “I guess we’ll be touring regardless, and I think we’ll be dimly aware of it. But it’s something we’re really proud of.” Perhaps a more personal get-together then? He seems to have one in mind. “We’ll probably go for a curry! Nothing beats a good curry to celebrate!”
Everything Everything play at Headrow House, Leeds tonight and at Leeds Festival on Sunday August 27. www.leedsfestival.com