Following the end of the tour for their third album, Big TV, indie rockers White Lies opted to take their first serious break since releasing their debut back at the start of January 2009.
And as drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown tells The Guide, it’s enabled them to put a spring back in their stride.
That debut To Lose My Life was a number one smash here in the UK, yielding hits such as the title track and Farewell to The Fairground, and its success saw the young London trio tour the globe.
While they were initially dismissed by snootier elements of the rock press as Joy Division copyists, subsequent releases have seen the criticism drop off and they have forged a more synth-based sound.
With recently-released album four, Friends, they’re ready to re-enter the fray, and feeling bullish.
Jack explains: ‘We’d done a lot of touring over the years, so we thought it would be good to take six months out before the new record and come back feeling fresh. We realise we’re in a lucky position to be able to do that, but we’ve worked pretty hard to get to that stage.
It was so good for us to achieve that success at the start, but then there’s an element that everything you do after isn’t going to live up to the hypeJack Lawrence-Brown
‘After we took that break, before we put this album out, there was a genuine feeling of worry that no-one would be interested in seeing White Lies when we came back.
‘The last UK and Europe tour sold out in most places, so we know there are people still keen to see us, which is a huge relief. We’re quite excited to continue the run.’
While Friends reached number 11 in the charts on its release, Jack says the band are philosophical about their place in the music world.
‘Possibly due to our early success - our first album going to number one and doing big numbers, anything you put out off of the back of that, which doesn’t achieve that level isn’t going to look as good. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to get three number one albums in a row but we did get three top five albums.
‘For us at this stage, we feel any pressures of being a new band are well and truly gone, now we can operate in a – and I hesitate to say it – much more professional, considered manner.
‘When we put things together we can have a certain degree of confidence that even nearly 10 years down the line we can still sell a couple of thousand tickets in London, or something like that.
‘It feels more like we have achievable aims, we don’t wake up in the morning and go: right this is the day where we’re going to finally make it super-huge and get Wembley on the itinerary again.
‘That’s not what it’s about for us, it’s about putting together an exciting live show for the people who want to see it, and I’m astounded by the amount of people who do still want to come to our lives shows.’
They’ve also made sure that they keep a firm grip on reality.
‘When that first album goes well, it’s quite easy to feel that’s how it always is – you put an album together, it goes to number one and then you tour for two years, but that’s not really it, 99 per cent of bands don’t get to do that.
‘It’s a weird one, without the success of the first album we wouldn’t get to do what we do now, but we’re not the kind of band who will only go out and play songs off the new album – we will always make sure we play the songs that people want to hear – the songs that people love to hear.
‘It is a double-edged sword – it was so good for us to achieve that success at the start, but then there’s an element that everything you do after isn’t going to live up to the hype.
‘We do feel we’ve been able to progress more with our music, without pressure from ourselves, or the media.’
The new album was the first time the band had attempted producing themselves, and the album was recorded at Bryan Ferry’s personal studio.
‘This is the first time we’ve been in a position to do that – we wouldn’t have known how to do it before. This was the first time we felt we could have a stab at it and get half listenable results,’ he laughs.
And how did they end up in Ferry’s studio?
‘It’s proper friend-of-a-friend territory involving our manager,’ Jack admits. ‘I think Bryan uses it every now and then, but he was open to some bands coming in and using it.
‘It’s exciting to know that he gave us his blessing, he was aware of our work and kind of into it. He popped down a few times and said “Hi”, he’s got an office upstairs. He was a really nice guy, and he let us use the old Roxy synths which are scattered around the place.
‘It was an amazing experience.’
Did they ask him if he could play something on the record?
‘We were too shy to ask him. Maybe if we go back.’
If they do get to go back for the next record, Jack promises it won’t be such a long wait.
‘We’ll tour this album for a while, when we’ve done that and been everywhere that people want us to play, we’ll see about starting a new one quite soon.
‘We needed that break, but now we’ve done that, I think we can work quite hard.’
White Lies play The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, on Thursday, March 2. Doors open 7.30pm. Tickets cost £22.50. The date has been moved from the Pyramids Centre, original tickets remain valid. Go to wedgewood-rooms.co.uk