The way made Undertow was to record the instrumentals and then write all the lyrics at once to thread it together, do you think that’s something you’ll do in the future now?
I didn’t like it because it felt like I was writing a body of work rather than individual songs, and now I’m much more interested in writing songs, rather than a set idea or a narrative or whatever.
So is that more like the first album then, where you were recording in between school and work with Rory?
Well on Undertow we had four months and we just went to the studio every day, made music and revisited stuff, came back and changed things. I was a bit luxurious and kind of too much time, but after touring for two years I wanted to spend some time in the studio and experiment.
Have you been thinking about another tour after the NME awards tour is over?
I think in a week’s time that’s it, I don’t think we’re gonna do any more shows for a while. I think we did two years, then we worked on an album for four months and then we did another solid year of touring and I need a break from one or both of those things.
You did a lot of festivals in the summer, will it be another busy summer for you or not?
Not this year, I think we’re just gonna chill. We’ve joked about a ‘summer of inspiration’, going to festivals but enjoying it from the other side of the barrier and going to see some music and see some places, so that’s my plan.
What music are you into, does it influence your own?
I don’t really get off on the sort of music we play, I don’t really listen to a lot of contemporary, it doesn’t inspire me. It’s cool to see what other people do but it’s not the sort of thing that propels me to go on and make more music. I’m just really into loads of 80’s music, loads of anthems. I listened to Donna Summer’s greatest hits yesterday, I really like Donna Summers.
So you’re not as into modern music?
I like keeping an eye on what’s being released and what’s current and what’s coming out because it does impact what you do. It does kind of tell me what we should be doing with our music or what’s become a bit too trendy or a bit too common, or what isn’t being written about.
Which songs are your favourites to play live?
We’ve been playing ‘Let’s Pretend’ on this tour, which we haven’t really been able to play for a couple of months just because we’ve been trying to do a different type of set, but because it’s our last bunch of shows we’re trying to play what the crowd want to hear as well as what we want to play. We’ve also started playing ‘The Woods’ recently and that’s working. We tried to recreate the recorded version of ‘The Woods’ live at a festival in Germany and it was just so bad, just really clunky and then we tried to do a really punky version of it and that was rubbish. Now we’ve just stripped it back and now it’s just the song and it’s really good, it’s one of my favourite bits of the whole set.
That’s right, you didn’t play ‘Let’s Pretend’ when you supported The Maccabees last November but you played it at Reading Festival last year and that was good wasn’t it?
It’s an important song, it’s proof that your best work isn’t limited to what the radio is going to play, a bit like with Peace’s ‘1998’. That’s such a big tune that they’re renowned for, people go and see Peace to see ‘1998’ because it really builds and it’s just such a euphoric piece of music, but it’s so long you’re never gonna hear it played on the radio. It’s nice for bands to have something that they know works on another level.
Whenever you perform the crowd goes nuts, how does it feel to see so many people going mad for your music?
It’s nice but I do spend a lot of time hoping that nothing awful’s going on, and that it’s all safe. I know it is but I do sort of think ‘watch out’, but you’ve also got to retain the image of a nonchalant rockstar that doesn’t care.
Which songs did you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoyed writing ‘Have You Forgotten My Name?’. I remember recording it and then putting the vocals in on top and it was just like the lower register of the two vocals keeping up the track. It’s what I had in my head but it just sounded really boring, but then finding this really nice vocal part at the top. We’ve never been able to play that track live, I imagine we will one day but it’s a tough track.
Why did you first start playing guitar?
I think at the time there were a lot of guitar bands on the radio and a lot of people at our school played guitar, Rob (Drenge’s bassist) is a guitarist and played at school assemblies in his band. I didn’t want a drum kit and I didn’t want to play bass, I just wanted to play guitar. I got a guitar when I was 11 and just played that until now.
If you could play in any other band, what would it be?
I’d probably just like to be in some band but at the back of everything, behind everyone really with a guitar and playing. There’s times in Drenge where I can stop being the front part of the band and let Rory and Rob take over, and I can listen to what they’re doing. One of the things that kind of frustrates me about being the singer is that I don’t get a lot of time to listen to what we’re doing, because I just have to concentrate on what I’m delivering a lot of the time.
Are there any countries you haven’t played in yet but you really want to play in?
We haven’t played anywhere in South America and I really want to go somewhere in South America. Anywhere!
You said Undertow is a record about getting out of somewhere, was there any inspiration to choosing this theme?
I think we achieved our escape in the first record, we’d never been on tour and then we when on tour afterwards. We kind of achieved escaping this small village in Derbyshire, and then it’s coming round to the second record and I’m going ‘Rory, we should really think about the record, come up with a bit of a narrative or a story’. He said we should just let the music dictate it so I said fine, but in my head I was thinking it should be a getaway album with a semi-narrative attached to it, with a car on the front cover and have songs about nature and the moors. This was all going on in my head and then we finished the record and it was exactly how I’d planned it. You want music to be spontaneous but it just can’t be all of the time, so you do need to plan and you do need to focus on what you want to be doing.