Interview: Russell Leetch of Editors

By on Wednesday, 17th February 2010 at 12:00 pm

Russell Leetch of mega English rock group Editors kindly took time out of his busy schedule and answered some questions for us. Editors are currently legging it around North America in support of their latest album, ‘In This Light and On This Evening.’

Congratulations on your latest album ‘In this Light and On This Evening’ debuting at #1 on the UK Albums chart the week of its release last October. London is a central theme to the album and is mentioned throughout, such as in the title of ‘Walk the Fleet Road’. Tell us how you came about to choosing it as a theme.
Tom has lived in London for nearly 4 years, and we all live in big cities. It just seemed natural for the concept of what people predicted the future to be and to what it is now. The album is viewed in a third-person view. It’s looking at characters and people throughout.

There was a concerted effort to make a different sounding record this time around, compared to ‘The Back Room’ and ‘An End Has a Start’. I like synthesisers and how they sound on records, so I welcomed this change, though there have been some critics and fans who balked at this ‘new direction’. At any time during its recording, did you have second thoughts on the direction it was taking?
Yep, some people will think of it as try[ing] too hard or trying to be really ‘arty’?! We simply wanted the instrumentation to be different. Tom, Chris and I started to write on Juno synths and Ed on an electronic kit. It just excited us and we think that carries across. The songs are still very Editors.

So how is an Editors album conceived, now that you live in different cities and on different continents? Are there pros or cons of not living in the same city, bumping into each other everyday?
There are more pros to [have] been apart. We spend so much time together on the road and we like time apart to have a life away from the band and get refreshed about music again. It was great to have a few months apart when we finished touring ‘An End Has a Start’. We had things to talk about again and were energized into making music together.

How did you get involved with the project of ‘hacking’ into London via Google Maps? As someone who is constantly yearning to visit blighty again, it was a really cool thing to play around with.
It came from a Sony creative concept. A guy called Steve Milborne comes up with all these weird and wacky ideas for music to be heard. We wanted to have it out before the album could be heard but because it was a tricky concept it was hard to finalize. We liked how it did turn out!

Your latest single ‘You Don’t Know Love’ has a pretty mysterious video. Can you tell us more about it? I heard it was directed by the Icelandic team Arni and Kinski.
Yes. We worked with them on the video for ‘Smokers [Outside the Hospital Doors]’. We love their ideas and their concepts. Anything that detracts from a straight-forward performance video is good with me. The dancers deserve all the credit, they were fantastic.

In mid-November 2009 you participated in the Mencap Little Noise Sessions, playing at the Union Chapel for a charity show. How did you get involved with the mental disability charity?

We were asked to do it by [Radio1] DJ Jo Whiley. We had heard of the event and thought it would be a good thing to be part of so joined in. We work close with a few charities, especially Oxfam and try to keep people refreshed that other people need your help all year round. The Haiti earthquake was terrible for the people there, but it’s important to keep aid coming and stay aware of things especially when media shifts on to the next big story.

So the word from BBC 6musicnews is that you’re already started working – or gotten ideas together? – for another album and have decided to work again with Flood as your producer. I know it’s still at a very early stage, but what can you tell us about album #4? What treats are in store for us?
It’s very early. The bulk of the material is not written at all but all we know is that yes, we’ll be working with Flood and we want to do it as soon as possible!

I recently interviewed We Are Scientists and asked them who were their bands to watch in 2010, seeing that the BBC, music magazines, and blogs all over have made their guesses on what bands or acts would be massive this year. Who are your picks and why?
Well, I don’t know who will be massive. Most probably the bands that they picked as they are going to have the BBC coverage, that’s going to build popularity straight away.

I really like [New York City band] Doveman at the moment and his [Thomas Bartlett] new record ‘The Conformist’. It is very good. I’m listening to Spoon and the new Beach House records, also very good.

So you are booked for a 2-week North American tour through to the 21st of February, when you will stop by Washington’s 9:30 Club. I think the last time you’ve been to our town was January 2008, 2 years ago…? How do you think this tour will compare to the one last autumn, when your UK fans were first exposed to hearing the new songs live?
Similar I guess but I think that people have had longer to live with the songs so they should know some of the words. So far and four shows in, the vibe has been really good. We’re excited to be here and are playing for an hour and forty [minutes] every night, so people are getting their money’s worth.

Speaking of that tour last autumn, I read that you were the first band to play at the 02 Academy Birmingham, in September 2009. As a band, what was that like? What was the atmosphere at the venue like?
It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. The venue really isn’t that great for all the money they have spent on it, and it looks like all the rest of the O2 Academies in the UK – which isn’t a good thing either. We played a lot of new material and some people didn’t like it, some did. It will never go down in history!

For you, what are the biggest challenges you face touring in North America (or anywhere else really besides the UK and Europe)? What things are you most looking forward to? Do you get any downtime to be tourists?

It’s a very busy tour so [there’s] not that much time free. We’ve been to a lot of the cities a few times before and done a lot of the tourist places, so I think we’ll just revisit our favorite cafes, bars and record shops.

Your support act throughout the tour will be New York trio the Antlers. Do you know each other well? How did you decide you wanted them to open for you in North America?

We didn’t know them before this tour. We had heard their record and were blown away by it so when we heard they would be interested in the tour we jumped at the chance. They are fantastic live.

Anything else you’d like to say to your UK fans (many of whom I’m sure will be seeing you on your March UK tour)?

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