Everything Everything interview: We're a slow-moving animal
Everything Everything's Jeremy Pritchard talks 'Get To Heaven', surfacing in Russia, a fourth album and the magic of playing at festivals with Ben Smith.
Last updated: 29th Mar 2016
Image: Everything Everything (Credit Mike Massaro)
At last year's Liverpool Sound City festival perched on the tip of a pier in the docklands, Everything Everything took to the stage wearing rather odd red, orange and pink garments. Quite frankly we're all about the kookiness, but it was the then un-released third album Get To Heaven that was the most alluring factor as the festival crowd increased with each passing song.
Leaping from the mid-tempo quirkiness of Arc to an embezzlement of Get To Heaven's brain-popping supernovas - that could all have equally dropped as singles - the never-heard-before album drew instant impact for the Mercury Prize nominated band.
The breakneck delivery of lead Jonathan Higgs on 'Distant Past' (listen above) or say the outright brilliance communicated on 'No Reptiles' echoed their ambitions throughout the world, landing them landmark festival slots, an arena tour with Foals and more recently trips to Russia and SXSW.
2016 promises to be even more tour-heavy for the band as they navigate an 18 date tour of the States and pitch up at the peak of festival stages around the UK. With plenty to chat about including talk of a fourth album, we spoke to bassist Jeremy Pritchard before the headed to wrestle the states.
Hey Jeremy. How's things, where in the world are you right now?
We've just got back from Russia, we done three dates there supporting an artist who's massive in that part of the world. It was amazing, the distances are so huge between places but it was really interesting. Half of our reasons to do that was just cultural curiosity really, because we wouldn't usually get the opportunity.
It's not somewhere were you see many bands playing is it?
Not many Western acts go there, that's true. But they do have their own music scene and that's what we were kind of attached to while we were there. We have played Moscow once before, and the market is obviously so large but the music scene actually quite small so we seen many of the same people from our last Russian show.
It's going to open up I think and become more receptive to western artists; I think people here have political reservations about going there and that did occur to us, but ultimately it was the same when we went to China and you're just playing to music fans.
You know we wouldn't do it if were booked to go to the Kremlin and play a corporate but that's not what it's about. We're not supporting any regime by playing anywhere.
So it's just purely for cultural exploration, because your music does have a political slant?
The country itself is just so fascinating, it's got such a dense history which i'm really interested in. It felt genuinely foreign. We were really noticeably foreign to people, so people were really interested in us because they just don't see westerners that much.
It would be different in Moscow, but were in really provincial cities which were quite far away. The last gig was Sochi and they've obviously had the Winter Olympics so they're a bit more geared up to tourism.
But everything was really alien to us and that's quite rare in the world of constant touring, when you're in similar capitalist environments over and over again.
Whenever we get an opportunity like that we do like to take it because that's part of being in a band: the travel element of touring is great. I'd have never been to Japan, Australia or anywhere really outside of Europe if it wasn't for being in a band.
And you're off to SXSW (at the time of writing)...
Yeah that's the next stop. We've got five gigs and then we've got another 18 with the Joy Formidable after that. It's five weeks in the States in all and we've never done a tour of that scope and scale before where we're going to be in a different city everyday.
It's usual a quick in and out of festivals like SXSW or CMJ in New York or a headline show in LA, Brooklyn or Manhattan then go home. So this is a proper cross country tour which we've never done before where the vast majority of places we'll have never seen before.
Get To Heaven has only just been released in the States, do you feel like that has revitalised the band?
We will be revitalised by the fact that we're playing to new people as well. People who've never seen us play live before who will live in the middle of America basically and not around the edges where we've been in the past - we'll be mindful of that. We'll only be able to play 45 minute sets a night.
And that's coming off the back of playing an arena tour with Foals, do you feel that the tour was the completion of a journey for two bands that started with similar math-y (rock) roots?
For them yeah, and it was kind of good that we could accompany them on that journey. They started a couple of years before we did and they've been our kind of constant contemporaries really.
They've always been one album ahead of us and they're like our big brothers, so we're looking to them and their levels of success to see where we want to be next time.
I think it's great that a band like that and a band like ours can sell out UK arenas now. They've done it completely on their own terms as well; I'm really proud of them as a fan and a friend of the band.
In what sense are they one album ahead of you?
Simply in terms of the numbers, they're on their fourth record and we're on our third. When we put out our first album they put out their second the same week and when we put our second out they put our their third the same month. Maybe we'll overtake them at some point.
Have you figured out where you want to go next?
We have started figuring out bits and pieces. John and Alex have been exchanging ideas on the road. We're yet to get into a room all together and unpack them.
That's going to start happening quite soon; I think in a few months time we're going to get back into our room in Manchester and start knocking some ideas out.
How long it's going to take us I really can't say, it's a really long process at the best of times, we are a slow-running animal but also because the actual machinery around us to make an album is slow-moving as well so it does take a bit of time.
In terms of what it's going to sound like is hard to say, because every conversation we have about it is kind of mutually contradictory. Not that we're disagreeing with each other, but because next time we talk about we'll be talking about a completely different set of ideals.
If anything we're probably less uptight about high ideals than ever before really. I think we'll just do what feels good and we're not going to worry if it's got to be clearer, quicker, heavier.
You know with every single album up until now, we've had a specific objective. With this one, we've probably de-cluttered ourselves efficiently to do what we feel like.
I think we've earned that confidence and the right to do that. That's not to say we're going to make a madly indulgent experimental record by any means, but we're not going to put ourselves under pressure or scrutiny like we have in the past. I hope not anyway.
Is Get To Heaven your most live-informed and accessible album communicated on your own terms then?
Yeah I think it is. For two reasons really. One which was kind of conscious was we wanted to make quite an energetic record and one that sounded on the surface of it quite fun although with with lots of danger lurking beneath, but we didn't want to make any slow, introspective and kind of headphon-ey music which is what we done with our second record.
We wanted to get away from that and make something that could really stand up for the huge amount of time you spend touring a record, because the shelf life of an album is far less than it lives on the road.
We were conscious of that and how long we'd been touring Arc without realising the slow and sensitive songs on that album didn't transfer as well to the live arena.
So there was that pop element I suppose. I also think because it's our third record and we've been around a while there is that awareness of the band - the fact that we just didn't fuck off - there's something in that and that I'd hope we've kept the quality high throughout our career.
We've not just chased what made us popular in the first place or chased a particular faddy sound. We've stuck to our guns, not gone anywhere and I think people appreciate that after a while.
On your next album can you confide in that everyone are more generally aware of Everything Everything and what the band is about and they can expect that you may go off in whichever direction?
Yeah I think so. I don't think we have 100% license really. I never feel like we are only obliged to do only one thing, we've always moved in the right direction, we've never plateaued or taken a backwards step in peoples awareness of us but at the same time we've got a really long way to go before you kind of become a kind of really big band.
Foals are just there now, they're just at the lip or the beginning of the that area. It takes so much work, and we're up for it. The scale of our ambition has never been in question, what we've been unwilling to do is to compromise the music to match that ambition.
If we cut the corners of here and here, then we'll bit a bit more slick and popular and we've never really done that. Everything that we've gained has been on our own terms really.
What are your intentions for festival season this year?
This summer for us has been about playing smaller and boutique festivals. We're headlining a lot, we're doing more higher slots on the main stages that we've never done before.
I think Get To Heaven lends itself really well to that environment, we've always been quite a good festival band and able to pick the set lists well, but this album is a gift in that there's not just any one song on there which is like "We probably shouldn't do that one." Except maybe 'Warm Healer' [Laughs].
It feels as though the song structures, the melodies are attuned to festival performances in that they continually pique the attention of audiences...
See it's hard for me to say because when people point this stuff out to us i'm never aware. It just comes naturally to us and people say you've done this there, there's this shifting time signature thing here or a three bar pattern here, all that kind of technical stuff.
We're all educated in it but we're not aware of were we apply these manoeuvres any-more, it's just become a part of how we think and play.
That thought descends from when you headlined at Sound City in Liverpool last year before the album was released...
Oh yeah, that was our first festival of the year so that was quite nerve racking for us. It was the first festival we had played any of those songs at.
And what is it that you enjoy about playing festivals?
Festivals are a really great discipline for a band because you can be slightly complacent by playing comfortable club shows were you know what the light show is doing and you know what songs you're going to play. When you've got a 15 date theatre show to play or whatever there comes a point were it's virtually automatic.
That's really nice and comfortable, but at the festivals it's sort of an unknown entity in that you have no soundtrack - It's turn up, plug in and play.
Everyone has got everything to gain so there's a particular magic you can get by playing festivals that comes when you create this relationship with the people in front of you and you get this feedback loop of energy.
If we're having a good time on stage, the people in front of us are having a good time and that increases throughout the set. That particular vibe, you can't get that from playing anything other than a festival.