Connection and letting go are two of the overarching themes featured in the new album ‘EBM’ from Editors who have released their seventh and most experimental album to date. ‘EBM’ is a riveting, celebratory and bold musical odyssey that is both glorious and gritty in equal measure.
The chameleonic rockers spoke to Clash Magazine’s Emma Harrison about why they are taking a sonic shift, how they never wanted to be the ‘cool kids’ and how connection is the genesis of ‘EBM’.
Clash: I had the pleasure of reviewing your new album ‘EBM’ earlier this week and absolutely loved it. Congratulations on your seventh album! You’ve never been shy about exploring new musical avenues and taking risks. However, this is unequivocally, your most leftfield and experimental body of work to date.
Can you just tell more about your approach to this new album? I understand that it was originally a collection of songs that was intended to be performed live?
Editors / Ben: Before I’d actually been officially asked to join the band (Ben joined Editors officially earlier this year) the guys had been asked to headline a festival and had been given a second night to perform and do whatever they wanted with whoever they wanted.
There was a conversation and they asked me if I wanted to get involved, because I’ve been working with the guys for a bunch of years prior to that.
The idea was that we were going to perform new versions of existing Editors songs and then Covid hit and that all got taken off the table for obvious reasons.
So we decided, we’ve got a little bit of time now and this project and this particular show could potentially happen next year. We thought perhaps a good and interesting use of our time would be to try and write some new material for this show. Essentially, that kind of snowballed and the further we got down the line, the more we realised that what we had was actually an album’s worth of material to use.
Clash: That’s one hell of a snowball! ‘EBM’ is a visionary and sonic adventure that plays tribute to both industrial rock and electronic dance music. But, you can also hear traces of Rammstein, Depeche Mode, The Cure’s earlier material and (if I am right) a little hint of Pet Shop Boys in there as well throughout the album.
Editors / Justin: Yes! Exactly. I guess we’ve always, as a band, I mean, I speak only for the last 10 years, is that we don’t tend to like to do what we did on the last album. The older you get, the further away we get from the influences in our own lives. We tend to just take it as a snapshot of the time that we’re in. When we were working on this record, the foundations of the album as it is now were established quite early on.
I think we did ‘Karma Climb’ first and then when we got to ‘Heart Attack’, it just felt like ‘that’s the album’. That’s what the album is gonna sound like. That was quite early on. But, we tend to not like to repeat ourselves.
Clash: You have been evolving your sound over the entirety of the seven albums, but ‘EBM’ does feel like quite a sonic shift?
Editors / Justin: Yeah, definitely. And I get it… you go back to those albums. You’re forming your own musical tastes when you’re a teenager and you know it (the earlier albums) means something to them. As a human being, you’re not the same person you are 20 years later and a band can’t be the same band for 20 years just because you bought one of our earlier albums.
Editors / Ed: Going back to the very beginning, when we first started to write the songs, we all knew that we wanted to have longevity.
We wanted to have a career, we wanted to make a catalogue and the catalogue to us was to never have the same thing repeated. So, to have different phases of our band, we have the first phase, which ended acrimoniously with Chris, but it didn’t mean that was the end of the band.
We chose to move on and to change tack slightly. Certainly this one is a different sounding record and to reintroduce Ben into the fold at this point. We’ve kind of gone off on our three album cycle again!
We weren’t aiming to be the cool kids at all. It’s really good of you to review it and I think the things you said about it really resonate with us. That’s exactly what we tried to do with this album.
Clash: 20 years of Editors! The music industry can be a fickle mistress – we all know that. You’ve touched on that very briefly, what would you say is your secret? Is it simply just a case of constantly evolving?
Editors / Justin: I guess, being confident in your own ability to move forwards? We’re not bored of doing what we do. We challenge ourselves with every record to push it further and further away from where it was before. I think a lot of bands get scared of stepping out of their comfort zone. If you’re in a band, and you’ve got a career, and you’re known for a certain thing, stepping away in a different direction is a bold move to make, because you put a lot of things at risk, especially now.
You’ve got to keep hold of what you’ve got, but you’ve got to balance out with your expression and how that unfolds over time. You’ve just got to be really confident that you can just go and do it. Fans will leave, but new fans will join you know…
Clash: The album was originally intended to be performed live. How excited are you about getting back on tour and showcasing the new material?
Editors / Justin: Very! There’s a lot of the new album being played.
Clash: What can we expect from the tour?
Editors / Justin: We’ve got less space on stage this time.
Editors / Ed: So that creates something different. Yeah, it’s exciting! For us, it’s going to be more of an intimate setting. We’re a funny band! We can go from doing an arena one night to a 400 capacity venue the next.
Editors / Justin: Also looking back at the older material. Having been able to play on itl, going back to the start and bringing all that up to this level of density as well as the new stuff is a good challenge.
Editors / Ben: It’s quite intimidating from my point of view, because obviously these are songs that are very well established and there’s a lot of fan favourites in there. It’s almost like I don’t really want to touch it.
It’s been quite interesting actually experimenting with them. That I feel like I can only speak from my own experience here. You know, this is my first rehearsal with the others over the last month or so, but it does feel like there’s an element of rejuvenation going on, even with these old classics you know, so it feels nice to be a part of this.
Clash: It definitely feels like you will be taking some epic songs and taking a reimagined approach from your perspective. Every track on the album is…I hate the word banger, but let’s just go with banger!
In particular, I just love ‘Strange Intimacy’, it just gets me! Do you guys have a favourite track on the album? And if so, what is it?
Editors / Justin: My favourite is the ‘anti banger’ ‘Silence’. Is it a banger? It bangs well! I don’t know, it just speaks to the emo heart of me! I guess. That wants to have a full beat underneath. It’s my favourite!
Clash: ‘Bang Well’ sounds like a very dodgy magazine. Let’s not go there! Like the kind of old magazine that you would find in the woods coming home from school!
Clash: Anyway, back to the music! In terms of the composition coming together with the songwriting, You’re coming from slightly different spheres now Ben is in the mix, bringing it all together – and it works!
With ‘EBM’, how did you make that approach and how did it differ from previous albums and how did this process take shape?
Editors / Justin: I guess it’s quite a pretty democratic process. It doesn’t really matter who brings the tunes in, because whatever they bring in, it always ends up going through everyone’s hands anyway.
So if Tom brings a tune in and he’s got some chords and some lyrics. I mean, it’ll sound great with just him and his piano. But as soon as it goes into Editors land, it turns into an Editors track.
Same with Ben, he did some writing on this record, and that started a lot of the ideas and once you bring the rhythm section in Russ and Ed, it totally takes it into an Editors place. It’s an open democratic process. Everyone’s got opinions. We all know how it all fits together. Because we’re old as fuck, and we’ve been doing it for a long time!
Clash: You guys are not old as fuck at all!
Editors / Justin: We must be. There’s not many bands, especially from that period who still go on seven albums into their career.
Clash: Again, it comes back to the longevity thing. But, I think it also comes down to passion as well. I think the passion always has to be there and if you lose the passion, then why bother?
Editors / Ed: Exactly!
Clash: You played at Victorious festival (amongst others) I was there too reviewing it. What has been your favourite festival to play this year and why?
Editors / Ed: It would have only been me at Victorious. This tour will be Ben’s first gig. We’ll be in Valencia next week. Justin’s been out of the game for a little bit to look after himself.
Clash: That’s so important.
Editors / Ed: We need you to write this guy’s name in your magazine! We’ve had a guy called Nick Willes (Editors long-term friend and unofficial seventh member) who’s basically our multi tool.
Yeah! He’s been coming in and having an impact; taking people’s places and helping us out. Not just with gigs, but with the music as well.
He’s been a lifesaver really over a number of years. We need to squeeze a show in for your question. Which was my favourite?! You know what? Mad Cool!
Clash Ooh! I heard good things about Mad Cool. I’m hoping to do it next year actually. I heard that the stage you were on was rather small and low-key, but that you amassed a massive crowd…
Editors / Ed: It was! We attracted an awful lot of people and that was a real surprise! It was a great show!
I think we’ve been anticipating the record and have been playing a couple of songs from it. To have the live element with Ben being there rather than the kind of sort of bells and whistles from a ‘pretend Ben’…Yeah, it really livens things up like when we were playing ‘Kiss’ the other day. With him manipulating the sounds, I was like, Man, has this got a feel to it?! It’s got humanity. etched right into it. It was wonderful!
Clash: It really has, especially after the pandemic as well. I think that’s the beauty about ‘EBM’, it is, as you said, ultimately about connection. It’s physical, mental connection, spiritual connection, and intrinsically how music connects us all. Music is universal and so is connection.
How important has that been to showcase through your music?
Editors / Ben: Well, I guess in the very first instance, as I mentioned before, this record was going to be for a very physical space where people were together. You know, the genesis of the record. So, I feel like it’s written inherently into the blueprint of this album. It’s a very important and prominent feature of what we’ve done with ‘EBM’.
I think it’s very important, you know, now more than ever to connect and share something with people.
Clash: Absolutely! So, you have the new album, and the tour, but what else can we expect from Editors?
Editors / Ed: We have the European tour and the UK tour next year. We’d like to go further afield with the tour. We did very early on in our career and spent a lot of time in America. More recently, it’s quite hard to do so, as it’s so expensive, but I think we’ve all got a hunger to try and get to those more far flung places like South America. We’re all going to be together tomorrow when the record gets released. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been with the band on release day. We’re usually just kind of floating around all over the place. That’s going to be kind of special, it’s going to be great.
Editors / Justin: Yeah, it’s my first time going back live since the pandemic, and it’s Ben’s first time live at all in the band. So it’s gonna be exciting! You learn something new every night when you tour a new record out, on how things work, what songs go where and all that. But yes, very exciting!
Clash: 20 years of Editors in its entirety! If you could give your younger self any advice about what you know now, about the music industry, what would it be and why?
Editors / Ed: Trust yourself and be with nice people.
Editors / Justin: We’re lucky, we’re surrounded by really lovely people who we work with, across the board. So for us, it’s kind of number one. Work with nice people. It might sound really basic and really stupid, but it makes all the difference.
Clash: You’d rather connect with a lovely person than say a dickhead?
Editors / Justin: You’re spending so much time together. If we’re going to make an album, or even have started to make an album, by the time we finish playing that album, that’s like three years of your life. And it’s three years of your life you want to spend with people that you love, as opposed to people you don’t want to be in the same room with.
‘EBM’ is out now; for details of the tour, visit https://www.editors-official.com/
Words: Emma Harrison
Photo Credit: Rahi Rezvani