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Editors strike a darker mood

A busy summer beckons for Editors, a band launched from Newcastle.


A busy summer beckons for Editors, a band launched from Newcastle. Andy Welch meets the man with the mic.

"We're going from Paris to Berlin," says Editors frontman Tom Smith, without a hint of irony.

It turns out he's not reciting the lyrics to a forgettable dance tune that assaulted the charts last summer. Rather, he and the three other members of the band are heading for Germany's capital to complete the first leg of their European tour.

The truth is, the 25-year-old hasn't even heard Infernal's Europop "classic", but it's understandable - Editors have been touring the world almost solidly since this time two years ago.

"You kind of get used to the travelling," he says matter-of-factly. "Travelling the world and playing songs, it's amazing. If you can't manage that, you shouldn't be in a band really.

"You see most of the world from a bus, but on occasion you get to see the sights. I spent a few great days in Vancouver on the last tour."

The band - Tom, guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, bassist Russell Leetch and drummer Ed Lay - met while studying music technology at Staffordshire University. They signed to Newcastle's Kitchenware Records in September 2004 and, after releasing a few well-received singles, set about their debut album.

The Back Room was released in July 2005, and was duly nominated for the following year's Mercury Music Prize. Arctic Monkeys' record-breaking first record scooped the gong, but Editors' place as one of Britain's most exciting bands was cemented.

An End Has A Start, the band's second album, is released next week and Tom says: "I feel great about this album, really good.

"We're confident and I just want people to have the album and for it to be on people's stereos for a little while."

By the time they finished their mammoth tour in support of The Back Room, Tom and co only had two songs written for the new record - Bones and The Weight Of The World - but were keen to get them recorded before starting work on the rest of the album.

Tom, the band's main songwriter, locked himself away for a couple of months to pen the rest. Working with Grammy-winning producer Garrett "Jacknife" Lee, who'd previously worked with Editors on one song, as well as with Kasabian, Bloc Party, U2 and Snow Patrol, the quartet decamped to Ireland in the autumn and recorded 15 of the new songs Tom had now written.

After taking Christmas off, they reconvened earlier this year and had the album done and dusted by the end of February.

"We'd talked about the songs as a band, but had different opinions and ideas for them, so when it came time to record, there was a lot more experimentation than there was during the sessions for The Back Room," Tom says.

"Those songs had been rehearsed for months, and we'd played them on stage countless times before going into the studio, but we didn't know how these were going to end up. If things weren't working out with a particular song, we'd stop and take it in another direction. The four of us and Garrett were all part of this, making these songs come to life."

The band reject comparisons to Joy Division made by the music press, but Editors' debut definitely had a similar mood to the work of the Mancunians. Even Tom's distinctive baritone resembles that of the late Ian Curtis.

The forthcoming album, however, eschews its predecessor's sparse arrangements for something richer.

"We wanted to make something that was glorious and beautiful," Tom says . "We like exciting music that makes you feel alive. I think this album is easier to read, but it goes a bit darker in places than The Back Room, lyrically especially.

"As a band, we all love the combination of uplifting pop music and singing about scary, deeper things, not triviality. I guess the songs are my attempt at trying to write words to move people and to make them think."

Current single Smokers Outside The Hospital Door is a song that does exactly that, tying together the prominent themes on the album - death, loss and new beginnings.

"Smokers standing outside a hospital is an old observation from childhood, really. I didn't spend any more time in hospital than anyone else, I just remember noticing that and it stuck in my mind," Tom says.

"When you're younger, a lot younger, disease, illness and death feel a million miles away. When you're forced to go to a hospital and you see all that close up, it's a very affecting thing, disturbing I guess.

"Recently, for the first time in my life (Tom's grandmother and an old school friend passed away in the last year) I've realised that things do come to an end, and it's scary. That image of people smoking outside the hospital door came back to me."

Famed for their energetic live shows, it's no surprise to see Editors featuring on the bills of this summer's biggest festivals. Between now and August, they'll play at Wireless, Glastonbury, T in the Park and V Festival, and that's just in the UK. They're also at outdoor extravaganzas in Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Japan.

"I love festivals. The last big festival we did in the UK was V last summer. It was towards the end of The Back Room campaign, and felt like a culmination of everything we'd done," Tom says.

"We played as the sun went down, we had this amazing light show and 30,000 people came to sing the words back at us. We seem to bring out good reactions in people, and I suppose there is an anthemic quality to what we do.

"For all our doom and gloom, we're not a bad festival band."

* Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors is out this week. An End Has A Start is released on Monday.


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