by Daniel Roberts‘You’re up, big man’ I hear Editors’ tour manager say as I wait outside the band’s dressing room, before bassist Russell Leetch emerges. The Birmingham four-piece, successful purveyors of epic gloomy post-punk, are watching the rugby: taking a well deserved, but not very rock ‘n’ roll, break from heavy touring to promote their second album, An End Has A Start. Was it hard, I wonder, for Editors to follow up their Mercury nominated debut, The Back Room? Leetch doesn’t think so: ‘when you are doing your first record, you are working and you are doing other things – you’ve got day jobs. When you are doing your second, yeah it’s a short period of time, but we were confident; we’d been on the road for so long that we wanted to go and record, we wanted to try new things.’
Indeed, the second album does present an obvious progression – sweeping, soaring, melodies; spiky guitars swapped for building choruses. The album title also hints at a change. Whereas before singer Tom Smith’s vocals seemed consumed by existential doubt and despair, now there is hope: ‘even an end has a start’. While The Back Room was ‘claustrophobic and tight’, says Leetch, the less despairing outlook of it’s follow up is thanks to ‘love lives, or just where your head can be at. We are all in a good place at the moment’. Edith Bowman then, Smith’s famous other half, is partly responsible for the change in tone.
That’s not to say that Editors have cheered up completely. Leetch admits that there is a lot of fear and doubt in the band’s music, ‘especially cos people can do anything but they tend to just destroy a lot of things. That’s definitely a theme that runs through it – you go outside and walk down the street and there are just so many different people and walks of life, it can be interesting, but sometimes it can just be really threatening.’ Musically, the band want to keep pushing themselves, but it won’t be into completely alien territory: ‘we could end up doing an acoustic record, we could end up doing a rock record in two weeks in the local studio where we do our b-sides’. Leetch does note that despite the epic direction the band are going in ‘we don’t want to come out as pompous at such and early stage’. So they don’t mind doing it later? – ‘Yeah, exactly!’
Like it or not though, there is no escaping the fact that Editors have hit the big time. From adoring fans (‘Japan is just crazy – people come up and hug you and tell you that they love you!’), to celebrity friends (‘we were over in LA recently and Jamie T was there and we hung out with him – he’s great for a 21 year old! He’s got a lot to say.’), the band are now in the big league. Not big enough to release their records the Radiohead way though. Leetch thinks that the Oxford band’s move can only harm emerging artists. ‘It does devalue it. Radiohead are an established band, how can non-established acts get to that point?’
There are signs that Editors’ excessive touring regime is taking its toll. The band’s performance later in the night seems somewhat weary, and Leetch is not impressed with the conversion of the Zodiac, a venue the band played twice before: ‘these Carling Academies… you start at half eight and it’s over by ten, it’s just a bit naff really. They make more money doing club nights, which is a bit sad.’ One thing that hasn’t changed is Smith’s on-stage contortions, the inspiration behind his dancing? ‘Elvis’. I say that i don’t see it. ‘No’, says Russell, ‘but that’s the beauty of it.’ At least Editors are aiming high.