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

Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

Arts and Entertainment

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map