When most musicians claim they had to get clean to find inspiration for their new album, they don’t mean it in quite the same way as The Enemy’s Tom Clarke. “Every now and then I just get in the shower and write lyrics,” he says, discussing the creative process behind their forthcoming fourth album ‘It’s Automatic’ and its giveaway “transition track” ‘Don’t Let Nothing Get In The Way’. “For some reason that’s the place that I write songs more frequently than anywhere else. I got in the shower and those lyrics were just there… I always just want to get home and get in my shower because I know I can write songs there. I’ve been looking at redoing my bathroom but what if I get rid of the shower and it doesn’t work anymore?”
Magical musical faucets aside, ‘It’s Automatic’ is an album driven by romantic woes (“a lot of this album is about relationships, I’ve had a lot of them now and none of them have worked. It’s definitely the most personal record”) and the need for a fresh start. “We’re at the point where we want to try and take a bit of a risk and put an album out that’s different and progressive and a bit of an evolution,” Clarke explains, still burnt, perhaps, by the scathing critical response to 2012’s Top 10 third album ‘Streets In The Sky’.
“It started before we released the singles and rarities album [2014’s ‘Dancing All Night’, released via PledgeMusic]. We were playing a gig in the middle of nowhere in Scotland and I sat Andy [Hopkins, bass] and Liam [Watts, drums] down and kinda said, ‘Look, I can’t do another ‘We’ll Live and Die In These Towns’. I don’t wanna cover old ground, I don’t wanna make another Enemy album, I wanna go and do some solo stuff’. Andy was like, “Well I don’t wanna make another Enemy album either, we really have covered it and I wanna do something completely different”. That’s where the talks started of, ‘Maybe we do it as The Enemy but we do something that people wouldn’t expect.’”
They set about cribbing sounds and ideas from their favourite contemporary records – Diiv, Death Cab For Cutie, the Drive soundtrack, R&B beats and even, thanks to their new producer Gethin Pearson, their mortal enemies from the school of 2008. “Gethin’s the person who basically made me listen to the Horrors album. He said ‘I don’t care what you think about them, you’ve got to listen to this album cos it’s too good not to’. So I drove back from work listening to the album going, ‘He’s right, it’s fucking amazing’. That latest album (2014’s ‘Luminous’), it’s like Simple Minds but there are bits of The Cure. I love it. I just listen to it from a musical perspective, forgetting anything previously [Horrors singer Faris Badwan mocked The Enemy at the 2008 NME Awards, declaring that they’d “defied natural selection”].”
Delving into psychedelic and progressive sounds, ‘It’s Automatic’ and first single ‘So Much Love’ are about “when you almost don’t want to be in love with someone but you are and you probably always will be no matter who else you meet – it’s venting that feeling”.
Tom is confident it’s a new-era Enemy record that will catapult them straight back into the public eye. Although he insists he won’t be returning to Twitter, which he quit over “cyber bullying” last year. “Twitter is a bit like an infection that you don’t really know you’ve got but it drags you down and you’re never really firing on all cylinders,” he says. “Since leaving Twitter my productivity has gone up, my mood is generally better, I can’t see me going back… There’s so much pressure to be on social media, you’re like an outcast if you’re not. But I’d rather be a happy outcast.”