Friday, September 14, 2007

Interview: Editors

A somewhat mutilated version of this article appears in today's issue of Washington Square News.

The lobby of the Affinia Manhattan is an elegant space. Classical music wafts through the area, creating an air of refinement. It’s a fitting residence for Editors during the East Coast leg of their North American tour, as the English quartet attempts a similar addition on their sophomore album, An End Has A Start, adding orchestral elements amidst their trademark post-punk sound.

Editors drummer Ed Lay is an amicable and thoughtful fellow, apologizing repeatedly for being late (the band had been doing press all day). In 2003, Lay became the final piece in the current lineup, which includes singer Tom Smith, guitarist Chris Urbanowicz and bassist Russell Leetch. Originally students of music technology (hence the Editors moniker) at Staffordshire University, the band-mates eventually left school to concentrate on the band, working odd jobs at shoe shops and call centers to support themselves. Editors broke out in 2005 with their debut album, The Back Room, receiving critical acclaim and commercial success.

Following their fall tour in September of 2006, the band took a break; the former roommates now live in different parts of the country. Lead singer Smith began writing material for their second album, collaborating through the Internet with the rest of the band members, a structure that Lay appreciates for its ease of access and the fact that it provides an amicable detachment.

“I think we’ve all formed lives outside the band. When you’re at home, you need a certain amount of space to carry on,” says Lay.

The band reenlisted producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee for the new album, whose previous work with bands such as U2, Snow Patrol and Bloc Party are characterized by dense arrangements. Lay partially credits him with pushing Editors towards an epic new direction and coming up with “exciting sounds.”

“Since the first album was quite angular and spacey in places, we wanted to get a bit more texture to it, so adding new instruments, thinking about the songs to promote atmosphere and grandness in a cinematic way,” says Lay.

Smith handles the lyrics and is generally initiates the songwriting process, starting, for example, with a hook or chorus line. With the new material, he started with piano instead of guitar to compose a number of songs, and the band even incorporated cello and violin in the final cuts. The album’s first single, “Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors,” features a full-blown chorus, which is approximated during shows as Lay and Leetch provide backup vocals.

Fittingly, it’s the live setting where Editors have had much of their success. The band has gained notoriety for their dynamic live shows, including appearances at prominent events including Coachella, Lollapalooza and Glastonbury Festival. “I think we’ve always come across as an enthusiastic live band, and that’s the way we want to be known,” says Lay.

Touring is an experience that Lay relishes, as he overcomes the tedium of the road by focusing on the exciting parts. “I look forward at the calendar and there’s always something within two or three days: a place you want to go to, a show you want to be a part of,” says Lay. In light of declining album sales, Lay views playing live as a vital part of Editors, and despite An End Has A Start debuting at the top of the band’s native U.K. charts, Lay is far from complacent. He speaks of treating America as if it was their home, which means extensive touring.

When faced with the potential breakdown of the industry, Lay is refreshingly forthright. “I’d love to continue make music, and if the only way we could fund it is playing live, that’s no big deal because we all enjoy it,” says Lay. Such independence is admirable, and consistent with the band’s perseverance.
“We’ve never been championed by anyone, especially the big guns in the UK like NME or Q. I don’t mind that, I prefer to work hard ourselves to make a name for what we’re doing,” says Lay.

Despite the reviews that compare Editors to every other post-punk band in the last two decades, the group demonstrates an attitude that’s hard to duplicate.
“We don’t want to be a short blip on the scene. We want to try and build a career as best we can,” says Lay. “I think with these two first albums we’ve really set ourselves up in a good way.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the printed version is better

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