Alternative pop band Everything Everything are kicking off their autumn tour in Newcastle. Sam Wonfor talks to frontman, Jonathan Higgs
I've been doing this job for 12 years and, in that time, I’m willing to admit there have been moments I wanted to crawl under my desk with a comforting cup of tea and a family pack of chocolate Hob Nobs.
Accidentally answering the phone to Lulu with a personal best when it comes to yawn volume would be one which immediately comes to mind. I think she thought I was having a crack at the opening to Shout.
And although I’m not about to embarrass myself with a long career list of cringeworthy doings, it’s fair to say there have been many others where that came from over the years.
However, not one of them scratches the surface of the first 30 seconds of my interview with Jonathan Higgs, the Northumberland-bred lead singer of alternative pop purveyors Everything Everything.
Recalling a chat with him around the turn of the year when the band’s second album, Arc, was released (to much critical and commercial acclaim, as it turned out), I remembered the interview took place while Jonathan was searching the snowy streets of Manchester for his cat – a regular occurrence by all accounts.
So, how better to start this chat about the band’s stellar 2013 and upcoming opening tour date on Tyneside, than by jovially asking whether his cat turned up.
“Sadly there wasn’t a happy ending to that tale,” Jonathan says, before politely assuring me not to worry, and patiently waiting until I’ve extracted my big fat stupid size six from my even bigger, fatter and stupider mouth. Sometimes I think I’d be better suited to a life spent in solitary confinement.
Thankfully, in addition to Jonathan’s sympathy and understanding, the urgent need for a smile-inducing change of subject was easy to satisfy.
Having enjoyed the widespread applause which comes built in with a hit album, as well as a near sell-out spring tour and a list of summer festival triumphs, it seems 2013 was the year when everything really started to happen for Everything Everything.
“Yeah, it’s been a pretty amazing year,” says Jonathan.
“We didn’t know how the record was going to go down – whether everyone would hate us, or what. But we ended up having a bit of a big hit, There was the first single (Cough Cough) and then second one (Kemosabe)... we were in the charts. It was all a bit new to us,” he laughs.
Although the band undoubtedly made their mark with debut Man Alive – its slow burning success was rewarded with both Mercury Music Prize and Ivor Novello Award attention – they were still on the sidelines when it came to wider success.
“You might have heard of it (the first album) if you listen to the radio... in this country... late at night,” he says. “I mean the critics liked it, but relatively, it didn’t sell a great deal.”
In contrast, Arc went in at number five and began blazing its own trail.
The band returned to New York and also made inaugural trips to LA and Australia.
“Hearing people singing your songs somwhere you’ve never been before is very strange,” he says.
“We were in Melbourne and people were down the front singing all the words, and I was thinking ‘What the hell is going on? We couldn’t be further away from Gilsland where I grew up and there’s these people singing my songs back to me’.”
Jonathan says the band were also thrilled to have been playing their third and biggest set at Glastonbury in the summer – even if a certain headlining act nicked a sizeable chunk of their crowd.
“The Stones set started about half way through ours, so there was a mass exodus but, hey ho, that’s never going to happen again.”
A summer of festival appearances was part of the Everything Everything grand plan to share their distinctive sound with as many people as possible – including a stint supporting The Foals throughout Europe in November – before they retreat to writing mode at the end of the year.
But first comes a second raft of UK dates, which kick off at the 02 Academy Newcastle on October 4, and will offer fans of both albums a broad list of musical treats.
“Trying to tour and write at the same time doesn’t work for us,” Jonathan says. “None of us want to repeat what we’ve just done. We’re doing a lot of talking at the moment about ideas and what is exciting us in the world right now.”
And from the audible enthusiasm heard when I ask Jonathan about the upcoming dates, I’m guessing one of the things exciting them is their latest staging budget.
“We’re doing a high-production thing – for us, anyway,” he laughs. “I mean it’s not Muse (and he would know, having supported them on their last tour), but it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done. We had a lot of pent-up ideas so it’s really nice to be able to make them happen.”
Everything Everything play 02 Academy Newcastle on October 4. For tickets, call 0844 477 2000.