Editors: The lost chart-toppers get a new start

Editors shed a key band member and a producer as they struggled to make their new record. They tell James McNair that it was worth it

“It was terrifying,” says Editors frontman Tom Smith. “We'd tried for a year and half to find the way forward and just couldn't. When that happens after multiple recording sessions you have to say: 'What's wrong here? Is it the songs? Is it Flood, one of the greatest producers in the world? Or is it something to do with the dynamic of the band?'”

Together with Editors bassist Russell Leetch, Smith is re-pacing the lengthy, rubble-strewn path to the band's new album, The Weight of Your Love. Mates since they worked in a Birmingham call-centre together pre-Editors, the amiable pair are today holed-up at a muggy Brixton Academy, where Editors are rehearsing for Glastonbury and European shows.

With two new members aboard – guitarist Justin Lockey and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Williams – a meticulous run-through is crucial, but Smith says Editors 2013 are happier on-stage and have a keener understanding of the need to entertain. He and Leetch also seem philosophical, though not coldly so, about asking long-term guitarist Chris Urbanowicz to leave the band in April 2012 due to – yes, that's right – musical differences. For a time, though, the pressure of trying to follow two UK No 1 albums (2007's An End Has a Start and 2009's In This Light and on This Evening) almost sank Editors.

“We were all turning 30 and it was like, 'shit, what are we going to do if not this?'” says Leetch.

“And most of us have kids now,” chips-in Smith, whose wife, the Scottish DJ and broadcaster Edith Bowman, recently gave birth to their second son.

“Ed [Lay, Editors' drummer] had a little breakdown in a restaurant one day,” resumes Leetch. “I'd never seen him like that.”

Moving forward involved parting ways with their regular producer as well as Urbanowicz, but, while Leetch confirms that they haven't spoken to their former guitarist for over a year, a recent communique from sometime U2 and PJ Harvey knob-twiddler Flood confirms he and Editors are still good friends. “I've been listening to your album so much over the last month, and I love it,” runs the text message from Flood that Smith reads aloud to me. “I've almost managed to distance myself from the pain, and can enjoy it as a punter.”

Flood's successor on the album was Jacquire King, the American producer whose diverse CV includes albums with Tom Waits, Modest Mouse and Kings of Leon. Smith says it was King's work on the last band's US No 2 album Come Around Sundown that drew Editors to him, for they wanted to travel Stateside to make a modern-sounding album with one eye on the enormodomes.

“We thought these songs would respond well to that environment,” says the singer, “plus you can get a child-like kick out of being a British band making an album in America, and we needed that sense of fun again.”

After fulfilling a longstanding commitment to headline Belgium's Rock Werchter festival, Editors, now a quintet, flew to Blackbird studios in Nashville to start work on The Weight of Your Love. The five of them lived, Monkees-style, in an old house out in the burbs, mostly avoiding the downtown area that Leetch describes as being like “a country music Disney World.”

Cracking new Editors songs such as the early U2-ish “A Ton of Love” and Radiohead-meets-Echo & the Bunnymen-like “The Weight” underline the wisdom of employing Jacquire King, but though he has undoubtedly enabled Editors to nail their most rewarding and immediate-sounding record to date, the sessions with him were not without awkward moments either. “Jacquire's very to the point; very American,” smiles Leetch. “He really wanted to get to the heart of the lyrics and we didn't. I had to leave the room at times.”

Given Smith's high-profile relationship with the aforementioned Bowman, moreover, questions about songs such as “What is This Thing Called Love” – sample lyric, “I've been your lover for the last time” – aren't likely to go away.

“Obviously love can be a damaging and destructive thing as well as a wonderful, life-affirming thing,” offers Smith, his portcullis already dropping. “It was a topic I mostly avoided on the earlier albums because I was worried about being cheesy or cliched, but this time I felt comfortable having a go.

Smith and Leetch first attended Glastonbury as punters.

“It was 2003, and Radiohead and REM were headlining” recalls Leetch. “I remember saying to Tom, 'Next time we come to Glastonbury we'll be playing it' – and two years later we were."

When Editors play the festival for a fifth time this week, the only sadness will be the ructions that led to recent line-up changes.

“We've always admired bands that build a back-catalogue over 25 years with the same four people,” says Smith, “so it's sad it didn't work out with Chris. He was a good mate and a big creative influence on the band, but we had to change things for everybody's sake.”

Editors play Glastonbury's Other Stage on Sunday evening. “The Weight of Your Love” is out on Play It Again Sam records on 1 July

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent