It's been a busy few weeks for Everything Everything with the release of their third LP 'Get To Heaven'. Two years after releasing their sophomore effort, 'Arc', it seems 'Get To Heaven' has struck a chord with fans and critics alike, with five star reviews coming thick and fast. Bassist, Jeremy Pritchard, explains what the band did different this time, to get this new found attention.
"When you get to a certain stage in your career, you have to have certain parameters to kick start something," he says, "We were all talking about wanting to write quicker songs. The word 'heavier' was thrown about a little bit - stuff that sounded hard and alert. I think we did do that, but it took us a long time to get into that vein though", he admits.
Lead singles Distant Past and Regret are not entirely representative of the new record, Pritchard says. "There's as much to do with the future on there as there is the past. Jon (Jonathan Higgs, singer) is always thinking forward and backwards. Nostalgia isn't a particular theme."
Rather than staying rooted in the past, the band focused on the present, taking cues from Britain's recent political upheaval, among others events. "What the record really is is an exploration of different contemporary mindsets, which is why there's so much violent imagery on there. 2014 was such a violent year in our lives. We were at home for the whole year writing and recording, and Jon was just absorbing the rolling news all the time, and was finding it harder and harder to comprehend."
EE worked with Grammy award winning producer Stuart Price, who has previously worked with Kylie, Missy Elliot and the Scissor Sisters. Their record label suggested the collaboration. "He came over from L.A. to our little studio in Manchester, and spent an afternoon working through the songs with us, quickly and effectively. He really impressed us."
However, they did have their reservations at the start. "On paper, we were like, 'I'm not sure how we can make this work with the Scissor Sisters guy', but he's so well-rounded and really experienced".
Pritchard explains that the album had a lot of darkness but the band still wanted it to feel like a party record. This is where Price's influence kicked in. "His own personality is very energetic - he's like a big kid. He has this brilliant positivity about him which really rubbed off on us, which we really needed."
Every party record needs a suitably outlandish album cover to accompany it, and the band certainly delivered. 'Get To Heaven' features an arresting illustration of a technicolour face-healer and their patient, making it one of the most striking covers of 2015. "We wanted something quite confrontational. We started looking at images of evangelical face healers form 1950s America, because one of the songs on the album has a lot to do with the notion of transcension and redemption. We really wanted an illustrator to reinterpret that, so we found a New Zealander called Andrew Archer." Archer was sent some photographs and asked for "something visceral with an element of comic book horror."
"We worked really hard to get the ambiguity of the subject into the cover," making it "as much about salvation as it is about violence. Whether or not we managed to get that balance, I don't know. Hopefully there's a little bit of hope in it as well."
When a band are releasing their third album, it can be hard to gain and maintain media and fan attention. This album though, has been met with overwhelmingly positive response from both.
"I don't actually read reviews anymore, but people seem to be paying attention far more than they did. I think that's partly because being a band on their third album is quite a rarity now. We've been around and been fairly unusual for a long time. Sections of the press are finally starting to admit that we may a point to make, albeit grudgingly."
In their review of the album, DIY Magazine spoke of how the band seemed to channel Destiny's Child on parts of the record. R&B, as a genre, had a huge bearing on the outcome of 'Get To Heaven'.
"Certainly, vocally, Jon's always into that melismatic, super nimble vocal style. There's a lot of vocal audacity in what they (Destiny's Child) do. As kids, we thought it was funny, but now I think we all really admire. We put them along side all of our 90s, electronic, indie influences. It's just one of the main ingredients along with math-rock and jazz. It all goes in the pot."
Since their first release in 2010, 'Man Alive', to present day, Everything Everything have learned a lot about being a band, touring and learning how to be themselves. Pritchard says, "We couldn't help but be ourselves on 'Man Alive', because we didn't know any better. 'Arc', in a way, is a product of self-consciousness. Now, we are that bit older and wiser, and I think we are less paranoid. We give less of a toss now about what other people think."
"We toured a lot on the last album as well, and we were aware of the pitfalls of having a lot of sensitive tender songs in that environment - a lot of them just aren't suitable."
Although it is still early days regarding festival season, the band's recent Parklife homecoming was a thoroughly enjoyable learning curve. "We're kind of still finding our feet again with the different processes of playing a festival," he says, "We'd come really early on a ridiculously long flight, and we were really tired. But it was important to us. It was a hometown gig, at the biggest festival in the north-west. We wanted to make it count. We were in an awkward position though, because the record hadn't come out yet. We've been trying to balance playing enough new stuff without robbing people of their favourite songs from the last two albums. We had a really great crowd though, and they were really up for the new stuff."
As a live act, Everything Everything are in a class of their own. They continue to draw huge crowds at festivals, as seen recently at Parklife. Often, however, it is during studio session that they truly shine. A video from a Mahogany Session four years ago, sees them deliver a captivating, raw performance in which all members are perfectly in tune with one another. "It's just the way we are," he laughs, "I think a lot of other musicians recognise their own sensibilities in what we do. With the Mahogany Session, I think a lot of musos really appreciated that because they could see simply that we're all about just playing the songs. We're always trying to balance our muso tendencies with pop discipline."
The band played Forbidden Fruit in 2013, and came in autumn that year to play The Academy. Pritchard admits that a lot of their career highlights are from Irish shows.
"Every gig we play in Ireland is great because it took us a really long time to get over there to play a show. Just after Arc came out we played Whelans, and it was a complete packed, totally insane Wednesday night. The Academy show brought the most amazing crowd equally. We were so taken aback by it. The feverish appreciation, midweek, in a town we'd never played ... That Whelans show is one of the most memorable gigs we've ever played."
In a recent interview, singer Jonathan said unequivocally that he thinks, "Jay-Z sucks". Given their backstory, perhaps they relate more to Kanye West. Pritchard laughs. "I think Kanye is the most pioneering artist at the moment. His last album (Yeezus) was kind of inspirational to us. It's so audacious and insane. For an artist in his commercial position to make a record that is purely motivated by his own artistic tendencies is pretty amazing."
"I mean, he's made a pretty difficult record. It's not at all what people wanted, and I really admire that. It was definitely something we took on board for 'Get To Heaven'."
'Get To Heaven' is out now. Everything Everything play Sunday July 19th at Longitude, Marlay Park.