Ed Lay of Editors: ‘It’s got a soul in it I don’t think we’ve had on record before’

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For album number five, Editors decided they needed a change of scene when they started writing and recording some new material.

And they didn’t do things by halves. Last winter the five-piece decamped to an artists’ retreat in Crear, an isolated spot in the western Highlands of Scotland, which includes a live performance room with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Atlantic.

The resulting album In Dream – which was released last Friday – is as epic and wide in its scope as the landscape it was created in. It also marks a return to the electronic-tinged music of their third album, In This Light And in The Evening, after the rockier The Weight of Your Love.

‘It was a two-and-a-half-hour drive away from Glasgow airport,’ explains drummer Ed Lay. ‘It was as far removed as we could be from anything in the UK.

‘The idea was just to write and feel a bit free, get our gear up there and do some demos.

‘About three weeks in our managers came up there and listened to what we’d been creating. They turned around and said: “What do you want to do with these? Look at the tracks you’re producing – why would you want to get a producer in?”

‘They encouraged us to test ourselves a bit more, to go back to them and make them special ourselves.’

It also marked the first time the band had really got to grips with the change in their line-up. Original guitarist Chris Urbanowicz left the then-quartet during the recording of The Weight of Your Love due to that old standby, musical differences. Then the band expanded to five with the addition of Justin Lockey and Elliot Williams.

Ed says: ‘We feel like a really solid and creative unit again, I think on the last record we went into ourselves a little bit.

‘Especially having new people in the band, you don’t really know what their tastes are and how far you can push each other and we entrusted that album to someone else. We went over to Nashville and recorded in one of the best studios we’ve been blessed to work in with one of the best producers in the world.

‘But this was very different, it felt like we were driving it ourselves.

‘I wouldn’t say we put pressure on ourselves, but we made it our job to make it as good as we possibly could, so there was no-one else to blame.

‘And I think we’ve come out with something that is unexpected for some people, but I think it still sounds like Editors – it’s full of hooks, it’s full of atmosphere and there are themes that go through the record.

‘But it’s got a soul in it that I don’t think we’ve had on record before.

‘I’m glad that we’ve got to the stage where people can finally hear it because it feels like a long time ago we were actually in Scotland.’

While the band took full control of the music, they were keen to work closely with key collaborators. Although they produced themselves, they handed mixing duties to Alan Moulder, who has worked with musical giants from Foo Fighters to Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins and many more.

‘It went with the theme of getting involved with people who are the best at what they do and letting them do it, and sharing the experience we were having,’ says Ed.

‘Alan is pretty much the guy we’ve wanted to work with since day dot. He’s really accomplished, really clever – the mixes we were getting back from him were incredible. We wanted him to put his stamp on it, to make some creative choices, rather than us going in there and telling him, here’s the masters, just make them “posher”.’

Meanwhile, for the videos and visuals to go with the album, they’ve given artist Rahi Rezvani free rein.

The band were introduced to Rahi through mutual friends, and when they invited him to photograph the band live, they clicked.

‘Rahi’s an absolute genius. What good is it going to do us if he sends us an idea for a video and we go: “No actually we think...”? We don’t know, we’re not necessarily visual artists – we have an idea what we like, but we’re not necessarily good at articulating it.

‘He came to spend time with us in the studio, shot us live a few times, he’s got to know us and he’s putting his vision of what we’re like as a band on screen or into the artwork. To give him as much artistic freedom as possible was important.

‘We kind of liked his attitude. He’s a little bit crazy, but when you see bands like Depeche Mode working with Anton Corbijn and building a relationship like that, you kind of think that’s a great thing to do, and some of those things become so iconic.

‘We’re enjoying it as well. It’s much better to turn up on a video shoot and have a relationship with the people doing it, rather than it just being a flat day with not much going on.

Now though, the band is looking forward to getting back on the road and playing the new material – they’re at the Pyramids Centre in Southsea on Thursday – after a campaign that saw them slipping out new songs anonymously into Oxfam shops and on to label samplers without any fanfare.

‘Everything really just clicked on this one. Our relationship with our record label, Pias, is really working, we’re trying to create different ways of promoting it.

‘We’re just playing about a bit differently to how we usually would. We wanted to give it a bit of time to build it up to coming out and then producing live shows that we’re really excited about and will make people want to go home and listen to the record.’

...working with Rachel Goswell of Slowdive

I think it gave her confidence too. It must be strange for them too being away for 20 years and then coming back and being the band on everybody’s lips.

...slipping secret copies of Marching Orders into Oxfam shops

It was the first new music we had from this record, We hope people were going into Oxfam shops and spending a bit of money while they were in there.

...it being 10 years since debut album The Back Room

I’m so grateful to have been in a band that’s had a career. But we didn’t want to be in a band that had a successful debut record and then repeated that record.

Editors plays at The Pyramids on Thursday, doors open 7.30pm. They are supported by The Twilight Sad. Tickets £22. Go to pyramids-live.co.uk or in person at the venue, 10am-5pm every day.