The Lightning Seeds have announced their first album in 13 years, ‘See You In The Stars’. Check out new single ‘Sunshine’ below along with our interview with frontman Ian Broudie.
Due for release on October 14, the album coincides with a new 14-date tour for the Autumn.
Although Lightning Seeds’ 1996 football anthem ‘Three Lions’ with comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner has revisited the Top 40 singles chart four times in the last 13 years – reaching Number One in 2018 – ‘Sunshine’ is the first new Lightning Seeds song since their sixth album ‘Four Winds’ was released in 2009.
The band have stayed busy by regularly touring and playing festivals, which is a change of direction as Broudie – who effectively is Lightning Seeds – didn’t tour at all until his alias’ third album ‘Jollification’ in 1994. He was initially known as a producer, making records with Echo And The Bunnymen, The Fall, Shack and The Specials’ singer Terry Hall. Broudie returned to producing in the ’00s, helping The Coral and The Zutons get started.
Having enjoyed melodic hits with Lightning Seeds since the ’80s such as ‘Pure’, ‘The Life Of Riley’ and ‘You Showed Me’, Broudie explains how he suffered a lack of confidence and was happy to finally enjoy being a frontman instead.
NME: Hi, Ian. ‘Sunshine’ is classic Lightning Seeds, but it’s been a long time since you’ve had a new single out. What happened?
Ian Broudie: “The last Lightning Seeds album, ‘Four Winds’, was a funny one. It never felt like a Lightning Seeds album. I was writing songs more like my solo album, ‘Tales Told’ (from 2004), but there was big pressure on me to make a Lightning Seeds album. I tried to make the songs into Lightning Seeds songs, but in their soul they weren’t how I see what Lightning Seeds is. After that experience, I didn’t want to make another album unless I was writing songs that were obviously Lightning Seeds songs. That’s one reason it’s taken so long.”
How did ‘Four Winds’ affect you as a songwriter?
“It knocked my confidence in myself. I thought: ‘If I’m not that guy anymore, I shouldn’t do it’. I’ve written songs since ‘Four Winds’ that I really like, but they didn’t do it for me, because they weren’t Lightning Seeds. ‘Tales Told’ had been a moment, and I didn’t want part two of that either. But I wasn’t despairing, because I was quite happy playing live, having previously spent so many years sat in the studio working on other people’s tunes. Then I started writing a few tunes that made me chuckle, and I knew straight away they were Lightning Seeds songs.”
What was the turning point of starting the album?
“My friend (The Coral singer) James Skelly had been very encouraging, saying I should record a song with him. He’d sensed I’d lost a bit of confidence. ‘It’s Great To Be Alive’ was 70 per cent written and I went to Liverpool for a day-and-a-half with James. We finished writing and recorded it, and I left thinking: ‘Oh, I like this.’ That was the spark, but it was a year before I did another song, ‘Live To Love You’, also with James. I was still hesitant, because I was still working on other tunes that I wasn’t sure about.”
Was there a burst of creativity, or were all the songs written intermittently?
“I had six songs done and everyone was getting frustrated. I was told unless I finish the album in three weeks, it’d be another year before it could come out. Emotionally, that prospect felt a real drag. For the last four songs on the album, I finished off writing them and recorded them at home on my own, in the way I had in Lightning Seeds’ early days. People might think I’ve spent all these years doing final touches on everything and taking forever to write, but the last four songs were done in a fortnight. Maybe they’d been percolating in my head for a long time.”
If those other songs you were writing weren’t Lightning Seeds songs, what is a Lightning Seeds song?
“There’s a great feeling of positivity to the songs on this album, but they’re also quite sad. I’m aware I’m not a great singer, but nor were singers in bands I liked: Joy Division, New Order. Working with Echo And The Bunnymen, Ian McCulloch had a fantastic voice. He could sing anything and it’d sound emotional. But hearing Barney Sumner in New Order made me realise it’s equally important what you sing, as much as how well you can sing. If you’ve got a good melody and your voice has a certain sound to it, you can probably do it. I think it’s why my music is so melodically driven.”
Speaking of great singers, Terry Hall co-writes ‘Emily Smiles’ on the new album. You’ve worked together since the’ 80s – would you ever do a joint album?
“I really hope so. We always talk about it, but it’s never been quite the right moment. We’d better do it soon! I’m in awe of Terry, as he’s a great singer, a great lyricist, just a great talent. I think we could make a great album together. I’m very lucky to have worked with him and James, another fantastic talent.”
‘See You In The Stars’ is out in October. The World Cup starts a month later. Any plans to revive ‘Three Lions’ for the tournament?
“There’s talk, yeah. The idea of a World Cup in winter is weird and it’d be so strange having ‘Three Lions’ around at Christmas. It’s been a long time since we last did it, but I don’t know if that’s reason enough to open that box.”
You were something of a trailblazer when ‘Pure’ was a hit in 1989. Producers didn’t become artists back then…
“It was difficult with the press, certainly. Now, all producers make records, but back then the media were very suspicious. I’d always seen myself as a songwriter and guitarist. I was a very reluctant producer. The only reason I did it was because I loved the Bunnymen and The Coral so much that I wanted to be in the band. The closest I could get was producing them. It’s certainly not my ambition to be a producer anymore. Producing has to be a combination of loving something madly, while also seeing an unfinished side, knowing you could make it even better.”
Lightning Seeds play live regularly now. Why didn’t you tour the first couple of albums?
“Because, as a kid, I saw myself as the guitarist, never as the guy in front. When Lightning Seeds started, I had a couple of tries to get someone else in as the singer, but I never found one I connected with. Even in between ‘Pure’ and the second album, ‘Sense’, I was looking for someone. I only sang the songs myself as I couldn’t find that right person. Terry would have been the perfect guy, but we were always on our different paths. It wasn’t until ‘Jollification’ that I felt right as the singer. By then, there was already an audience, so I never got to develop by playing in bars. I was uncomfortable playing live for years.”
“Having a settled line-up playing live has been important. When I record, I never use session musicians. I ask mates who are in bands when I need help, which is a subtle but crucial difference. It’s the same with touring. My son Riley plays with us, I’ve known Martyn (Campbell) for years and our drummer, Jim Sharrock, is the nephew of our original drummer (Chris Sharrock, ex-Oasis). It feels like the songs are played with love.”
Without distracting from the new album, it’s about time the old Lightning Seeds albums were re-issued. Some of your old songs still aren’t available on streaming sites. Any plans to change that?
“I’m pleased you ask, as I was thinking that as well. Once this album has run its course, I’d like to sit down next year and see how it feels to put everything together as a body of work. I’d like to redefine my past music and give it its proper light, have a little retrospective moment. It’s a good time to do that.”
Having kept us waiting 13 years, will the next Lightning Seeds album arrive quicker?
“I’ve written three or four tunes since finishing this album. I think I’ll roll into recording them, but I’ve become quite anxious with the prospect of having a new record out. I don’t enjoy the feeling, as it’s brought back a lot of anxiety. I can’t wait to tour, and let’s see how ‘See You In The Stars’ goes first. I’m very proud of ‘Sunshine’ and I can’t wait for people to hear the other songs too.”
Lightning Seeds release new album ‘See You In The Stars’ on October 14 via BMG. Check out the tracklist below.
1. ‘Losing You’
2. ‘Emily Smiles’
3. ‘Green Eyes’
4. ‘Great To Be Alive’
6. ‘Fit For Purpose’
7. ‘Live To Live You’
8. ‘Permanent Danger’
9. ‘Walk Another Mile’
10. ‘See You In The Stars’
Lightning Seeds will tour in October and November. Tickets go on pre-sale on June 20 and on general sale at 10am on June 22 and will be available here. Check out dates below.
27 – Junction, Cambridge
28 – Academy, Oxford
29 – Cheese & Grain, Frome
3 – 1865, Southampton
4 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London
5 – Stylus, Leeds
6 – Garage, Glasgow
10 – Town Hall, Birmingham
11 – Boiler Shop, Newcastle
12 – Olympia, Liverpool
17 – Chalk, Brighton
18 – Tramshed, Cardiff
19 – Albert Hall, Manchester
26 – Leadmill, Sheffield