Tim interview 08 October 2008


Hello Tim, where are you now?
I’m at Xfm in London. We’ve just been doing some interviews and are about to do a session of some sort. I’m trying to find a place where there isn’t a speaker blaring into the phone, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

How’s it all going?
Really good, thanks.

Were you pleased with the Forum gig last week?
Very pleased, yes. It’s always quite nerve-wracking playing songs for the first time, but it was really good and we got an amazing response. We’ve always said we thought the songs off the new album would be really fun to play live and that proved to be the case.

You’re happy with the way the new songs worked live?
Yeah, they feel like they’ve come very naturally into the live situation. There’s still a few that we need to do more work on, which we’ll be rehearsing in soundchecks. We haven’t played Black Burning Heart or Pretend That You’re Alone or You Don’t See Me or Playing Along yet, but we definitely want to.

Are you playing the old songs any differently?
Well we’re experimenting a little bit. We’re trying to rely on the computer less, so having Jesse on bass is a big help. There’s less gloss to them now. We hadn’t got round to changing the programming since back in 2003 when we were out touring the clubs in London, so it’s been good to freshen things up.

The reviews for the Forum gig were great.
Yeah, really good. I try not to get too hung up on reviews but it is good that the buzz around the record is so incredibly positive and strong. I think people are very excited to hear something that’s fresh and different, whether they’re fans or critics. It’s really cool.

For all that you don’t get hung up on reviews, presumably it would’ve been hard to take if everyone had been slating the album?

I think it all contributes, yeah. What really matters is the atmosphere in the crowd. As long as the people who pay for their tickets are having a great time then we’re happy. But it is nice to have this sense of there being a good vibe about the album in the media and among the punters. It adds up to an amazing feeling for us. And it’s a new thing for us too. We’ve always been lucky with music fans responding very well to our music, but to be getting that from the always-hard-to-please media is a nice little bonus.

And you won a Q Award before the album’s even out.
Yeah, we couldn’t really ask for a better start to things. Spiralling has been something which has grown beyond all expectations.

The album is released on Monday. Do you set targets for what you’d like it to achieve?
No, I think as soon as you do that, you’re asking for trouble. It’s hard to repeat the kind of rush of success you get with an album like Hopes And Fears, when you have the benefit of being a new band with an incredibly accessible album. I think any band on earth would struggle to match those sales for very long. So, I think now, especially after everything we went through 18 months ago, the most important thing is the fact that we’ve made a record which was a real joy to make. And we can genuinely say we’re incredibly proud of it as a piece of art. Beyond that, I don’t really know what to expect. But we definitely want people to hear it. If you’re a band that has an album’s worth of songs that you’re proud of, then you want people to hear the whole record and to really absorb it.

What’s the feeling in the band now, with the album release just days away?
We’re just very, very excited. And we’re all really looking forward to getting into the routine of being on tour properly, rather than just dipping in and out of little gigs and radio sessions. It’ll be good to get on the tourbus and be driving around Europe, back in the gang and off on our adventure.

So touring is something you look forward to?
Well, it is this time. We probably lost our enthusiasm for it a little bit early in the second album, but we really fell in love with it again last year. We ended on such a high, with South America and some great gigs in America and then the big UK tour. With the excitement around these new songs. we are desperate to get out there again.

Do you normally buy a copy of your albums?
I’m sure I went and bought the first album, but I really can’t remember with the second one. I think I’d be afraid of looking like a complete prat if someone were to recognise me. But with the first album we were so unsure whether anyone knew anything about it that we almost felt like every copy counted. So we all bought it, hoping that would help it stagger into the Top 40. But someone’s just plonked a copy of the vinyl edition of the new album in front of me, which is pretty cool. And I got a CD copy a couple of days ago too. It is amazing when you see it; you spend ages and ages working on this thing, writing the songs, agonizing over lyrics, recording and mixing, and then suddenly it all boils down to this square plastic box. But that in itself is an incredible moment because it suddenly feels very real and like we’re actually in a band that’s making a record that’s gonna be in the shops and in people’s homes. It’s pretty amazing.

As a known perfectionist, is there anything you’d change on the new album?
Err… umm… let me think… No, I honestly don’t think there is. I’m really proud of everything about it.

And have you started writing the next one yet?
Not really. I’ve got a few ideas kicking about, but I think if you want to do something new you need to step back and absorb new ideas and new influences. You’ve got to keep writing anyway, but I’m pretty sure what will happen is that I’ll write a load of songs in the next few months, then we’ll look at them in a year’s time and think that they feel more like this album than the next one. I’m hoping we’ll have a bunch of completely fresh ideas for whatever comes next.

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