‘Excess, addiction and self-improvement’ – Liam Fray shares update on Courteeners’ ‘groove-based’ new album

"I’m in the richest vein of form that I’ve ever been in"

Courteeners‘ Liam Fray has revealed that the band are in the final stages of their new album, which he describes as personal yet ‘escapist’ and ‘groove-based’.

This week saw the band announce a huge homecoming show at Manchester’s Heaton Park to 50,000 fans, with with support from JamesDMAs and Pale Waves. Having previously said that ‘the worst years he’s had’ are shaping their ‘bolder, braver, adventurous’ new album, Fray now hopes to have new material to show to fans in the very near future.

“We’re nearing the end, but every time I say that a new song comes out,” Fray told NME. “I’m in the richest vein of form that I’ve ever been in. We’re on fire. At the turn of the year we were a big pile of smoking ash, now that’s not the case. We’ve had a single mixed, but we’re still debating what to do with the whole thing. Can an album be 12 songs any more? Does anyone digest it. I love the idea of doing it, but is that just me being romantic?

“To us, the songs have just got to be explosive and blow you away live. There are only a couple of delicate moments, which is why it’s a shame that the album’s not there yet for the tour. Maybe we’ll just have to do a few more gigs next year.”

Courteeners, 2018

Asked if they might be airing new material when they hit the road for their run of winter dates which kick off this month, Fray replied: “I think we are going to do a few new ones on tour. We’re quite old school. We’ve gone back and forth with this. First you want to do it to get people talking, then you want people to hear the finished product rather than some shit version off someone’s phone.

“I think we’ll drop a few to see how they go down. It’s brave to do that. We know exactly what our setlist is and where the home runs are, but fuck it – let’s play something new.”

Speaking about the direction of their new single, Fray told NME that it was “one of the most unusual songs we’ve done, but it’s also fucking big and it’s got a big fucking chorus”.

“I think people are going to go for it,” Fray went on. “It’s not an off-putting left-turn. I’m probably the wrong person to ask. It’s hard to be judged after creating anything creative. Anyone who says they don’t care is a liar. People live with it and learn to love it. All the best people do that, they lead rather than follow.”

Earlier this summer, Fray said that their new sound was turning out to be more ‘loop-based’ and ‘inspired by hip-hop‘. As the band add the finishing touches to their new album, now he tells NME that they have remained in an experimental mode.

“It’s a bit LCD Soundsystem and groove-based,” he went on. “You never know what to say until it’s fucking done, but that’s still the case. It’s more dancey, but obviously with real players and a human element. You can hear the fucking breath on the hi-hat, rather than everything being programmed.”

As for the lyrics, the frontman said that the songs were some of his most personal, yet the record as a whole aimed to be more ‘escapist’.

“It’s still about all of the ups and downs: excess, addiction, self-improvement,” said Fray. “All the big guns, do you know what I mean? It just seems like everyday it becomes more prevalent. Like, ‘We’re all just kidding ourselves here, shall we just slow down?’ We’re trying to take stock a bit, as hard as that is when the world is imploding. We’re trying to enjoy ourselves and see the good in people. It can be pretty grim when you’re glued to the news. Music has always been about escapism, so let’s just escape.”

He added: “I can’t wait to just get on tour and be in a room with these people. These people are our fans and into what we do, how crazy is that? The fact that they’re coming to share it with you is a really special relationship. We stand there and sing and sweat with them. People need an escape, so we’re going to lose our voices and lose our minds – even if it’s just for a night.”

Tickets to Courteeners’ other upcoming UK shows are available here. The band’s full UK tour dates are below. Tickets to the Heaton Park show are on sale from 9.30am tomorrow (Friday November 2).

Thursday 15 November -Stoke Victoria Hall        
Friday 16 November -Birmingham O2 Academy          
Saturday 17 November – Leeds First Direct Arena     
Monday 19 November – Nottingham Rock City       
Tuesday 20 November – Leicester O2 Academy
Thursday 22 November – Llandudno Venue Cymru 
Friday 23 November – Newcastle Metro Arena 
Saturday 24 November – Glasgow SSE Arena
Monday 26 November – Southampton O2 Guildhall
Tuesday 27 November – Bristol O2 Academy    
Thursday 29 November – Hull Venue
Friday 30 November – Liverpool Echo Arena                                      
Saturday 1 December – London O2 Brixton Academy
Sunday 15 June – Manchester Heaton Park

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