‘Every time we make a video, Jon wants to set fire to something or blow something up’
Having released their critically-praised fourth album A Fever Dream in August, Everything Everything are preparing to embark on their biggest ever tour, starting in Dublin on February 28. We caught up with bassist Jeremy Pritchard backstage at NME and Zig-Zag’s CineJam event in Manchester, where the homecoming heroes played a triumphant headline set after a special screening of the cult Tony Wilson biopic 24 Hour Party People.
Are you planning to step things up in terms of production for this tour?
Jeremy: “You have to, just to reach out and fill the space in those big rooms. I can’t tell you too much at this stage, but we are doing stuff. We also feel we’ve been trapped in festival mode for the whole of the life of this album. Come February, we’re going to make the setlist more esoteric. Some of the older singles that were considered sacred cows may go, or we may rotate them rather than play all of them every night. We want to resurrect a few things we haven’t played for five years, and play some of the new stuff off the new album that we haven’t played live at all yet. And just vary the pathway more. We’re feeling like we’re doing the high-street version of ourselves at the moment.”
In a recent NME interview, frontman Jonathan Higgs said he wanted the band’s aesthetic this time to be alt-right skinheads, commenting: ‘I always want things to be really extreme and the guys always talk me out of it’. What’s been the most bizarre suggestion you’ve had to veto?
“Every time we make a video, Jon wants to set fire to something or blow something up. And then we look at the implications of doing that and what it may or may not mean for the song, and we never have. Every band talks about destroying their own van in early videos, and we did talk about driving our transit van off a cliff. When I saw The Amazons had torched their van for their album cover, I thought, ‘Somebody finally went through with it – so good on ‘em’.”
The album references Brexit and Trump. What has it been like seeing the shit hit the fan?
“It was hitting the fan when we were writing ‘Get to Heaven’. You could see this stuff coming over the hill. The wax and wane of leftist and rightest sentiment, feeling that swingometer shift as far back as 2014 and then it did all come true with Trump and Brexit. For this album, we couldn’t stay mired in those real events. We had to take a step back for everyone’s sake – and also because it’s more interesting. Now that it’s all come true, there’s no point in documenting it because everyone else is. It’s not that we’re not documenting it, but it’s more detached and macrocosmic and emotional. It’s more to do with the human, personal and emotional fallout from these world events. By the time we got round to writing this album, it had all come true.”
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“Lyrically, it came together quite late. The riff at the end was the first thing we had when we were writing ‘A Fever Dream’, and we wrote four different versions of that song – all of which fell by the wayside. Because it was the first child, it had all this undue attention and we seized up, and we put it to the back of the pile, then came back to it at the eleventh hour. It’s also the most basic childish thing on there, very much on his level. I’m pleased we didn’t shy away from it. People ask, ‘Do you think it’s your duty to do this? I don’t think it’s a duty but I do think any artist of worth wants to document the times they live in.”
Have you been asked on Question Time yet?
“No, but we shouldn’t really, because we’re white men. What we think should be less promoted than minority groups. Racial minorities and women should be taking up that mantle – and rightly so.”
What have been your highlights of 2017?
“There were some really good shows in America, where we feel like a rarefied thing. We play much smaller gigs to a full, enraptured room. The fans that come to see us are dedicated – there are no rubberneckers. Just making and releasing and touring the record has been encouraging. Not just the fact that it was well reviewed, but also more importantly, that our fans still feel surprised and engaged by what we do. ‘Cos it gets harder and harder not to repeat yourself, and we’re paranoid about that. Reading in August was one of our favourite festivals ever.”
Who are your tips for 2018?
“I really love a band from Manchester called Duds. They’re in a very particular Manchester post-punk vein, a bit like A Certain Ratio. They’ve just put out an album called ‘Of A Nature Or Degree’, and are definitely my favourite band around at the moment. And I also like False Advertising.”
Are you working on music for the next album yet?
“We don’t have anything explicit yet. Jon’s been writing just to keep his muscles supple, and we have talked about certain songs. We certainly don’t want to hang around, but I think it’s getting harder and harder. I mean, look at our contemporaries – it’s getting harder for people to find reasons for people to continue beyond perpetuation of the lifestyle. The Maccabees and Wild Beasts have gone, Bombay [Bicycle Club] have been gone three years, so that’s sort of rattled us a bit. It feels like the end of an era. It’s not that we’re struggling to find meaning in what we do, but it’s certainly crossed my mind. We’ve talked about new songs but that’s as far as we’ve got. I’ve been so much more consciousness about how much shorter the shelf-life of an album is now. We were asked about a new album the week this one came out – the release of an album now feels like the culmination rather than the beginning of something. People’s attention spans are shorter now, and music is less central and in the background. It’s not sour grapes – just an adjustment. Every time we put out a record, the goal posts have moved again.”
Everything Everything will play:
February 28 2018: Dublin, Olympia
March 2 2018: Norwich, UEA
March 3 2018: Birmingham, O2 Academy
March 5 2018: Bristol, Colston Hall
March 6 2018: Leeds, O2 Academy
March 8 2018: Glasgow, Barrowland
March 9 2018: Manchester, O2 Apollo
March 10 2018: London, Alexandra Palace