In The Works: School Of Seven Bells

Discussing the forthcoming new album

Ding Dong! The New Yorkers might have spent eighteen months playing their acclaimed nu-gaze milestone ‘Alpinisms’ to the masses, but they’re finally ready to unleash its long-awaited successor.

That debut was one of the late-Noughties’ unexpected highlights, a gloriously ethereal-but-sensual soundclash from a chap and two twins who met on an Interpol tour. And it’s Alejandra Deheza, the fringier of the siblings, that furnishes us with details of the follow-up, down the phone from the States. New album ‘Disconnect From Desire’ is “just going through the mixes,” confirms Alejandra, who is still in the dark about how exactly their re-emergence will pan out. “I think there’ll be a single beforehand, but I don’t know what it’ll be yet. There’s lots of contenders!”

That’s encouraging to hear, since their recording circumstances have changed enormously. ‘Alpinisms’ was put together in a rather more enclosed and rarefied atmosphere – in the house they all shared, in fact – while this one presumably owes more to the band’s now-considerable live experience.

“All the touring we’ve done has had a huge impact on us. When we did the first album, there were some songs on it that we’d never even played live, so we really had no idea how they’d work, but it’s always really interesting to see how they transfer to different venues,” she muses. “I don’t think we’ve ever played anywhere that was too big or too small for the songs, but there have certainly been places that have really transformed what we’ve done. This time round we’ve written a lot on the road.”

The Bells have toured with artists as diverse as Bat For Lashes and White Lies along the way, and while close contact with such artists hasn’t influenced them significantly, exposure to their fans has.

“I think we’ve definitely continued to follow our own path,” asserts Alejandra, “but we’ve learned a lot about how much – or how little – we can relate to a totally different performer’s audience. It’s a really good way of finding out whether you’re up your own ass too much!”

Then again, that path has become rather more congested recently, as SOSB’s brand of indistinct, luminous noise has now found numerous kindred spirits. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, for example, were one of 2009’s key breakthroughs, and Serena Maneesh seem poised for the same this year. Not that Alejandra is bitter. “Oh, they’re great bands, we’ve played with both of them!” she enthuses. “We did ATP at Camber Sands with them. That’s a great experience.”

Indeed, and the Bells should be heading back to the UK in June (“I don’t know if we’re doing the festivals,” she laughs, “I should really ask!”), with the album dropping at around the same juncture. So how can we expect it to compare with what we’ve heard so far?

“We haven’t changed what we’re doing, but we haven’t needed to; the response we’ve had just confirms that we’re doing it right.”

Words by Iain Moffat

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