Editors: The story of our success

They were one of Glastonbury's highlights, but their debut album isn't even out yet. Charlotte Cripps meets Editors
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The Independent Culture

"We got recognised by a bunch of schoolgirls in front of Big Ben in Westminster today," says Tom Smith, 24, the lead singer. "They let out a scream when we confirmed we really were Editors. That's never happened before."

How was it for the band at Glastonbury? "We were on stage after the deluge of rain on Friday morning. The whole site was recovering when we went on at at 2.30pm," recalls Smith. "We were performing on the biggest stage we have ever played on. It was a big task for us - a river had washed away our management tent that morning. The team were scrambling about in their underpants. We were all in shock, but we just had to get on with it."

The band are in London this week to re-record their first single "Bullets", which was first released in January on the small independent label Kitchenware (the label that signed Prefab Sprout in the Eighties). "We didn't sign to Kitchenware because of their history. We signed to them because it gave us more space to develop as a band, without the hype that can go along with bigger record deals," says Smith. "They were really in tune with what we wanted. They saw it as long term. With independent labels, you don't have huge amounts of money thrown at you straightaway. You don't play places that you aren't ready for.

"Bands like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party have proved that you can sell records and attract audiences on an independent label. So we weren't scared of people not hearing about us. Hype can destroy bands. Over the last six months, we have been out playing live and releasing records and building gradually, rather than being splashed over all the papers before we are ready. If people are told to like your music, they are cynical. Creeping up on people and allowing them to find out about you themselves is important. We have done everything to hold the reins to start with. If we get any praise, at least we feel we've earned it."

Smith is a little tired because he was up bright and early this morning, at 8.30am, to sing live on Channel 4. "It was an experience. It's hard to sing in tune at that sort of time." The rest of the band (who all wear black, though the band say they have no fashion agenda) include the tall bass-player, Russell Leetch, 24; the good-looking indie-boy guitarist, Chris Urbanowicz, 23; and the drummer, Ed Lay, 24. They all met about five years ago at Stafford University on a music-technology course, which bored them to tears.

"We were only doing the course to avoid getting a job," says Smith. So they formed a band, at first called Snowfield, and on graduation they moved in together and renamed themselves Editors. That was in 2003. Ever since, they have been writing dark but catchy pop songs, marrying pop hooks and melodies to songs about love, life and death. The turning point to success came in April, just before their second single "Munich" came out, when the press started to pay attention to their raw, urgent sound.

"When we first met we were influenced by the first Strokes album Is This It? And the first Elbow record, "Asleep in the Back", and contemporary bands such as The Walkman and Bloc Party," says Smith. "Also early REM - I will always listen to their albums Murmur and Reckoning." The band's sound has been compared compared to Echo and the Bunnymen, but Smith claims that they are too young for that. "We have only recently discovered Echo and the Bunnymen and the albums Crocodiles and Heaven up Here - though we are now massive fans."

Smith writes the words for the songs, but the rest is a collaborative effort. "The lyrics are purposely ambiguous - like riddles for you to draw your own conclusions to," says Smith. "It encourages people to think for themselves." Being a new band, they are still discovering their voice. They wrote their debut album very quickly, in three and a half weeks, and Smith says that there are a couple of songs, "Camera" and "Distance" that were utterly unexpected.

"They show a different side to us," he says. "Lots of our songs are immediate, up-tempo energy and these songs are more sombre and reflective. 'Camera' takes its time. It doesn't rush. It is the most important song for us on the whole album. We could not believe what we had created; its sound is like a step up the ladder for us. It shows us where we can head in the future. It is our attempt at a ballad."

What next for Editors?" They head to Scotland tomorrow for T in the Park, and then over to Ireland to perform at the Oxegen Festival, near Dublin. Beyond that, there's supporting Keane at the Eden Project, undertaking a headline tour of the UK and playing the Reading and Leeds festivals. How does it feel? "It is a massive buzz. We never expected any of this," says Smith. "If you stop to think about it, it's incredible."

The single 'Blood' is out on Monday on Kitchenware, 'The Back Room' on 25 July