The Coral Q&A: James Skelly On Why The New Album Is Like ‘Mad Men’ And Why You Won’t See Them On ‘Sunday Brunch’

After five years out of the studio, the Wirral’s most influential sonic spacemen The Coral are back with new album ‘Distance Inbetween’, set for release on February 26. Drawing on a more live, “fucked up” sound, it could turn out to be the band’s gnarliest, heaviest work yet. NME caught up with frontman James Skelly to find out how the rejuvenated quintet are getting on.

This is your first new album in five years – why now?

“It just happened naturally, it wasn’t one of those eureka moment things. We never stopped playing together, but then things started coming out where you think ‘Ah, this could be a Coral album’.”

When did it all start kicking back into gear?

“About two years ago. Going through all the tracks [on ‘lost’ 2006 LP ‘The Curse Of Love’ which came out last year] and doing it all together was the first step. It was just little things and then before we knew it, we were in the studio. We’d always wanted to do a live album, a heavy album in the way ‘The White Album’ [The Beatles, 1968] is, so I started learning loads of blues tunes with riffs in to learn how to write like that. We wanted to do one that was heavier, with that tape cassette sound but in a studio. It’s produced, so we had to do quite a lot of stuff to make it sound as fucked up as it ended up.”

It’s been 13 years since your debut [2002’s ‘The Coral’] – does it feel like a very different musical world now from when you started?

“In a way I prefer it now. I only ever got into [music] for people to hear the songs I made and when you think about it, every time people play your CD you don’t get paid. And yeah, you might not get much on Spotify, but you get something and more people hear it which is the point. There are so many good bands you can just hear at the click of a button and I don’t see how that can be bad.”

Is there an overall mood or thematic link on ‘Distance Inbetween’?

“It’s almost like Mad Men, where what you’re seeing and what’s going on in everyone’s minds are two different things. It can seem like a normal situation but inside the person’s mind it could be apocalyptic. The first single, ‘Chasing The Tail Of A Dream’, is sort of like that – it’s about how your dreams can make you, but they can break you. Sometimes, you’ve got to know when to stop. I probably won’t know when to stop; it’ll probably break me.”

And have you thought about what happens after this release?

“We’re not really one of those bands who plan… I know what type of people we are and I know what you have to do to reach that next level. I can’t see us on Sunday Brunch y’know, it’s just not happening…”