Hot off the release of their excellent second album ‘Arc’ (full review here), we sent David Dooley to have a chat with Alex from Everything Everything about everything from hating guitar chords, to the recent demise of HMV.
First of all, congratulations on the new album. It’s a concise piece of work that builds on everything ‘Man Alive’ was, which is an achievement. What’s the reception been like so far?
It’s been great. We’ve all been very nervous leading up to the album being launch. Wanting people to hear the album in full, hoping it wouldn’t get leaked. You know, fighting that off and waiting for it to come out. Now that it’s out it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off. And all the responses so far have been phenomenal.
Any of the reviews I’ve read have been extremely positive. It’s something to be very proud of.
Everything’s really good so, we’re feeling really good.
What can people expect from the live shows?
They can expect a more entertaining show. We’ve got a new keyboard player who helps out and takes over all the keyboard roles that John was doing during ‘Man Alive’.
So he’s freed up to be more of a frontman now.
Yeah, exactly. He’s not stuck in one place. It really made a difference, like when we were doing the tour with Muse on the big stages John was free to walk around and engage the crowd. I think it does make a difference knowing you’ve got this driving force at the front leading us.
The last time you played Dublin you played the O2 and when you come back in February you play Whelan’s. What’s your take on that, do you prefer playing bigger arena shows or are you happy playing the smaller ones?
Both have their positives. The great thing about playing the small show is that a lot of the quieter, more intimate songs are more tense. It really works in that environment. On the bigger shows, it’s the opposite. The bigger songs become huge on that big PA, it’s good. When you play the big show you play the room, you play for the room and you write a setlist for the room. When you do the small shows you the same thing but you have more options. You can play the very quiet songs. If you were to play a quiet little song in an O2, it’s not really the right environment for it. There are pros and cons to both really.
How do you feel being the guitar player in such a rhythmically led band?
I guess I try to service the song with my guitar. I don’t have a lead guitarist, I am the guitarist but I don’t treat the guitar like some kind of rock god. I’m not a soloist. I can do that, I love jazz and I’m a big fan but I do that in my own time and not when I’m writing parts. I try to write what the song needs. Be that a nice melody or whatever, everything has to fit as that’s the job and the role. I think playing guitar, strumming and not doing anything, I don’t see the point in being there as a guitarist. I like writing parts that are unique, so that when there’s space they stand out and then when there’s not space I won’t play. You know what I mean? I have to wait to put something in that’s meaningful that fits the structure and everything.
It almost sounds like four people playing four different songs but it still works together. If I was to listen to one of your songs with just the vocals and the guitar line, it would essentially still be a song. There’s no one element carrying each song which is great.
Yeah, everyone plays a part that’s orchestrated and then filling out the space that the harmony is missing. We’ll spend a lot of time, especially when there’s two guitars, making sure we’re not playing and singing the same note. Filling out the harmony and adding to it in the right way. You do have to think about this when you write about music. Sometimes these little parts on their own, that don’t sound like anything, become exactly what the rich harmony is missing when you hear the song. We don’t sit there going through these things with a fine tooth comb, it’s more like in the middle of rehearsal you’ll look at parts a bit more carefully in a very relaxed way. Songs take a very long time to get to that point. You have to go in and write a song but then you have to make it better and better.
So what are your aspirations for Everything Everything?
I want the album to reach more people around the world. I want to be able to travel and see more things. We have a really good time travelling and it’s a shame we can’t spend more time in these places. To go, properly tour places and see things. That’s one of the main reasons to be in a band, to travel and experience and I want to do that a lot more. Musically we’re heading somewhere. I don’t know where that is but ‘Arc’ definitely feels more confident for us. Knowing what we can do and what we can’t do and improving on ‘Arc’. I think musically we’re going to keep on pushing ourselves. I spend all my time practicing and trying to be a better guitar player. We’re always trying to learn things. That’s what being a musician is all about.
I know that you guys played in HMV over in the UK recently. I just wanted to get your opinion on the music going digital conversation. If HMV’s going out of business then what does that mean for the future of the record industry?
It’s a sad time. I think we’re of a generation who remember going in and buying CDs. And for us that kind of ritual of an album coming out, going to the record store, flipping through CDs and trying to find the one you want. Sometimes you’ll find you’d have to order it in and all that kinds of stuff. The only way to get music was that way and I think it’s a shame. Times change and you have to move with it. People younger than us, they don’t buy CDs. They’ve got iTunes, iPods, iPads. It’s the way music’s going now and we just have to accept it. It’s a shame as with HMV gone we’ve lost the middle ground. You go to Tesco and you have the big top 10 pop albums. You don’t have the obscure bands, you can’t pick up Gang of Four in Tesco so it was good that HMV was a bit like that. You also have the back catalogue of what’s in there. It was like the crossover between the independent record stores and the supermarkets. it’s a shame that it’s not there but if people don’t buy records, then people don’t buy records. What can you do?
I think the ritual is lost with albums. With ‘Arc’ my first time listening to it was on Spotify and it’s not the same as actually getting that physical product, flicking through the artwork and getting that extra dimension as you listen to it.
Spotify is great if you want to stream stuff but you don’t get the experience. You don’t get to flick through and read the lyrics, you don’t have the artwork in front of you. You don’t have that enjoyment. I’m still unsure about how I feel about Spotify. It’s great to be able to get all that music in front of you which is great for getting people to gigs but in terms of selling records I don’t know. It’s a shame because when you don’t buy the record they don’t chart. A band doesn’t chart by being purely on Spotify. You can really make a difference for a band by buying a record. It’s a shame that that’s going to change. If that is the way it’s going the charts will change. How will we measure how a band is doing? Because international record companies don’t take you seriously abroad unless you chart. All the things that are necessary evils for a band to keep going are harder and harder to achieve because of Spotify, or downloading illegally and all the rest of it. It’s hard to tell how big the band actually is.
‘Arc’ is out now and Everything Everything are to play a sold out show in Whelan’s on February 18th.