‘Can I call you back in 15 minutes? My little son’s just started crying,’ Editors’s frontman Tom Smith interjects, a little way into our conversation.
This is comical timing, considering it followed a serious and depressing talk about how the indie band stood on the edge of oblivion during some very dark years. Perhaps his baby boy, Spike, heard us?
It’s one thing to come out the other side of a really tumultuous creative period, which included the departure of Editors’s lead guitarist and friend Chris Urbanowicz. It’s another to do it all while being a dad-of-two.
Explains Tom: ‘It’s a bit of a juggling act. I’ve just been away for a little while, two weeks, while doing festivals.’
They recently played Glastonbury and they are gearing up to play Reading and Leeds for the third time over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
‘Festivals generally are not as rewarding as our own shows,’ says Tom. ‘For our own shows, we can be more subtle with our song choices.
‘But we will get to play to people who might not like us or are “floating boaters” who are either in or out. But we look forward to it and I relish that challenge of trying to impress people.
‘Biffy Clyro [pictured far right] are playing though and I am looking forward to seeing them.
‘But it’s hard, you know, being away from the kids.
‘Three of us in the band have kids and it tugs heavily on your heart.
‘Although we spent three years making this record and I spent most of it at home, the reality is, if I worked at the bank every day, I would probably see my boys less.
‘It will be really great when the kids can come on tour. But life is good.’
It is now, at least. But the band had a tough time in the run-up to the making of their new album. The Weight of Your Love.
Says Tom: ‘We spent a lot of time with the songs. It got harder and harder, but we weren’t coming up with the results. ’
This is where the problems arose with guitarist, Chris.
Tom continues: ‘Chris has a unique personality. He was an absolute genius for us over the years, but there were some personality issues there.
‘He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like. We were pushing songs in a certain direction. We wanted him to be happy with the songs.
‘It came to a point where we couldn’t go on. We decided that we either just stop the band or go on without Chris.
‘He certainly wouldn’t like most of the songs on this record.
‘Our new songs have taken on a more traditional setting.
‘We wanted a different energy in the room.
‘Justin [Lockey] came to us. We knew him from bands that supported us.
‘We didn’t want someone to come and play guitar like Chris. We wanted to take the band somewhere new. That was important.
‘We got really lucky because the first two people that came in really worked like a dream. Very quickly we were throwing new songs around. The wheels could still fall off though,’ adds Tom.
But it doesn’t look likely.Since Justin from Yourcodenameis: milo and Elliot Williams from Airship joined, a new lease of life has breathed into the Editors camp and that’s audible on the new album – their fourth.
‘We decided we wanted to record in America. Nashville wasn’t set in our minds but I am glad we went there. Neil Young had scratched his name into a guitar in the corner of the studio which was pretty cool.
‘We have done a lot of recording in London. It’s a claustrophobic place. A lot of those studios are closing down so it was great to go to Nashville which isn’t really feeling the recession.’
On first listening, the new album – including the glorious new single, A Ton of Love – sounds like a break-up record. But Tom says don’t be fooled.
‘I am in a stable relationship. The whole tortured artist image doesn’t really work.
‘I mean, listen to The National’s record. It’s twisted and the singer’s married with a kid – he doesn’t get grief about it!
‘There are songs on there that are from one person to another. It’s all about love.
‘Sometimes there is an element of darkness there. But there’s more of a positive side to love expressed in our songs than before. The Phone Book is just a love song pretty clear and simple.
‘Formaldehyde is saying “I am yours, do what you want with me”.
‘I am definitely less worried about being cool now,’ adds Tom.
‘We’ve gained a certain level maturity in our way of thinking. We are comfortable in our own songs. I used to wrap my lyrics in something that was more ambiguous.
‘You don’t have to be happy to write a happy song though. I don’t believe in that notion.’
There’s no reason for Tom not to be happy. Their recent switch-up and slight change in direction seems to be paying dividends, especially in Europe. The album went into the top of the charts in both the Netherlands and Belgium.
‘We also got in fourth in Germany and that’s massive for us because it’s a bigger market than the UK,’ explains Tom. All across Europe it’s been a successful record.
‘We still get excited about playing places like Madrid as we’ve had some of the best shows there. Playing farther east is rewarding too and it’s the first time we will have played Bulgaria. I am aware that we are lucky to be doing this, finding our passion and being able to do it for our job. We don’t take that for granted.
‘This feels like the beginning of something. This feels like we are in our very early days and we are all immensely excited.’
Editors play the Main Stage at Reading Festival on Sunday, August 25. Weekend camping tickets cost £210.50 from readingfestival.com or 0871 230 1085.
We’ve got a pair to give away to one lucky reader - see page 3 of The Guide in The News today for details.