Tomorrow (April 24), The Cure keyboardist will release the lush and orchestral ‘Two Ravens’ via 99X10 Records/Caroline International. Recorded over five days at Air Edel studios in London, the likes of Jen Pague, Llisa Liubarskaya, Miriam Wakeling, Aled Jones, Nadine Nagen and Daniel Gea all contributed to the record – which was heavily influenced by O’Donnell’s “life in rural England”.
“‘Love And Other Tragedies’ [previous 2015 album] was based on classical love songs, so was quite detached from my own life,” O’Donnell told NME. “They were myths and stories. This time it was something different. I’d just come home from the 2016 tour with The Cure to where I live in the middle of nowhere in Devon – having spent the whole tour longing to be home and to make a cup of tea. I got home in the middle of winter, all alone, and realised how bleak it was!”
He continued: “Still, I had a lot of bottled up emotion and creativity, there was nothing else to do, so I made some music that was a lot more personal.”
Speaking of his collaboration with Pague across the record,” O’Donnell said that he was “blown away” by her talent and approach.
“It’s like her voice was always meant to be there,” he said. “It felt like another instrument. There are some songs she didn’t sing on because they were too personal to me, but we recorded four songs together. I think of my music as being very English and rural, whereas she’s as American as you can get – and I mean that in a nice way! Her lyrics are very American. In one song she sings ‘GEE-WHIZ’ over a string quartet. I never imagined it working so well. She a millennial and we disagree on just about everything apart from music, so that made it a lot of fun.”
Is he drawn to friction in the studio?
“No, I hate it!” he replied. “I like it to be friendly and warm. I don’t like it when people try to push each other’s buttons. I’ve been through that, and I would never want to go through that again. I won’t name any names!”
Describing the label Caroline as “feeling like home” due to their work with Fiction Records who have always put out the majority of The Cure’s albums, O’Donnell said that he was hoping to gain further support for his solo work by playing some shows once the coronavirus lockdown lifts.
“I did a show at Shoreditch Church once before, so it would be nice to go back there and film it,” said O’Donnell. “But then I start getting emails from Robert [Smith, The Cure frontman] and the calendar starts filling up, so we’ll see what happens.”
As for future plans with The Cure and whisperings around their long-awaited new album, O’Donnell told NME: “We’re finishing the record, it’s pretty much done. Whenever Robert does an interview, it’s interesting for the rest of the band to find out what we’re doing as well! But we’re just mixing and mastering the record now.
“There’s no rush, is there? It’s been 12 years. It is an amazing record though and totally worth waiting for. We’re very excited by it.”
Speaking at the NME Awards 2020 back in February, The Cure’s Robert Smith said that the band had been working on “two new albums and an hour of noise. This would mark their first new material since 2008’s ‘4:13 Dream’.
“You’ll be lucky to get one, the way I’m working!” Smith told NME. “There are only really two, the third is literally just an hour of noise. I wouldn’t call it an album. The first one will definitely be out. We’re just wrapping it up now, it’s going to be mixed. Until it’s out, no one will believe me. I look forward to it coming out, more than anybody else – trust me.”
O’Donnell releases ‘Two Ravens’ on Friday April 24.