New Miserable Experience

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Ariel Pink    

Listening to Editors' debut album The Back Room is like falling down a very comfortable flight of stairs with a drinking buddy who understands. "All sparks will burn out in the end," intones vocalist Tom Smith over driving guitars that sound like they're approaching a cliff, and you think, "Yes, yes they do," and you have another drink. "You don't need this disease!" shouts Smith, ostensibly referring to himself. and you think, "She sure does not," and then you have another, even better drink. "I just close my eyes as you walk by!" he declares, and you think, "I do that too!" Then you're drunk, and you realize that unlike the Killers and many emo kids of today, Editors' brand of mope-rock is too muscular to get annoying. Listen to the album the next time you leave someplace on your own and you go home and you cry and you want to die. Or the next time you're on an elliptical machine. It works well either way.
   People say this album sounds like Interpol, but those people tend to cry out exes' names at the point of orgasm — it's a perfectly fine record on its own. The five members of Editors are in their early twenties and hail from Manchester, England. We spoke to guitarist Chris Urbanowicz. — Michael Martin


I'm feeling some relationship trauma in the record. What's the backstory there?
What was going on at the time is while we were writing it, we just finished university, we all moved to Birmingham, the town we never really lived in,never really got happy with it. Lots of concrete everywhere, quite derelict, not a very homey city. Not a place you'd go for a day and fall in love with. So we were kind of like working two other jobs and getting shunned by A&R managers. One day they're going to sign you, the other day they wouldn't. Broken promises and all this crap. As far as relationships go, it did have an effect. I mean, all of us were falling in and out of love and it had an effect, definitely.

Were you all simultaneously broken-hearted?
Oh no, I'd been brokenhearted for a while anyway. We were all single for ages. We spent a whole year being single except that Ed had a girlfriend.

What are the relationship statuses in the band now?
Russell and Tom have girlfriends and me and Ed don't. I don't know how they have time.

So what's the name about?
It's quite ambiguous, really. Editors is just a word that came up that looked good on paper. Naming a band is the hardest thing to do. We went through a succession of really shit names.

Such as?
Well our first name was Pilot. Really shit. There was a 1970s band called Pilot, so we changed it. And then we were called The Pride, which was probably my least favorite because it sounded like a gay pride festival and everyone thought we were a gay band. And then we changed it to Snowfield, which was awful. We definitely had that history of really shit names.

What's something you edit out of your personal story when you're picking someone up?
Usually that I'm part of a band!

I don't know. It's kind of just started now, but girls who were bad to me a year ago are now showing interest, which I find really strange.

Who were these girls who didn't fancy you a year ago?
Really, really good-looking ones.

So how do you guys feel about being called a soundalike band? Interpol is brought up, as are Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division.
Every band gets that, so we don't really give a shit. It's very hard to be completely original in this day and age. When you supposedly have eighty different influences . . . and it's funny sometimes when none of us really listen to a lot of their songs anyways. Sometimes we've got none of their albums, or never heard their songs or even the band themselves. Muse was supposed to be the new Radiohead, which I find crazy because they're just Muse.

I like that your record is emotion with punch.
Yeah, I think it's not really like emo. It's not about being spotty and meeting a girl and "Oh! She looked at me from across the street," and like that. It's about passion. All of my best friends have been girls. The stuff that we write about is quite romantic, but we like to try to deliver it with this kind of aggression and throw ourselves around a bit.

Are you fans of rock-disco fusion?
After Britpop got play in the U.K., it kind of ate itself. I had myself a big backlash against all the bands and cut out rock and roll all together for about three years or something and got into dance music. I just love the way dance music is structured and the way you get hooks and melodies and you can bring them in and bring them back and how you can make songs peak and drop and stuff. You just have to look at the bands that get a certain ratio like Gang of Four, Caberet Voltaire and the Talking Heads, quite intelligent dance music but with hip-hop.

Peter Hook of New Order gave you an endorsement in NME. How did that feel?
It felt amazing. That was really early on, I think around that first single. When Peter Hook plays your records and he likes you, then you listen. He's a really cool guy. When he DJ'd, he seemed very drunk! [Laughs.] He was having a good time, we all were.

How would you describe the band's style statement?
Well, it wasn't discussed or anything, but we wanted to feel like we were getting up for a more timeless image, you know? So we kinda stick with monochrome and wear black and white and gray. The kind of stuff you look back in five years and don't think, "Shit, I look like a cunt," you know?

So how's touring been going? Do you have women throwing themselves at you?
Uh, not really. It varies.

It varies by country?
By country, yeah, they're a bit more . . . forward in America. They want to know what your number is when you talk to them. I learned from early tours that you don't give your number to anyone.

Chronic text messaging?
Yeah, sometimes. There are people from the early days that I gave my number to, just cause I thought I was being polite, who text me to this day. I still haven't replied. But they text me about once a month: "How's it going?" and all this.

What country has the most morbid fans?
Italy is pretty dark, I have to say. I don't know why. It was quite gothic, pretty dark, quite mature. In Germany, they're playing like this is a Morrissey gig — dark eyeliner and a bit of velvet. You're like "Bloody hell, I think they've got the wrong idea." We attract all sorts from that department.

Have there been any embarrassing onstage incidents?
Tom's fallen over a couple times. I played a whole show with my fly undone, but it was dark in there anyway.

Nothing like Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas pissing herself?
No. You know, apparently at first she said it was sweat, which for me was worse.  



© 2006 Michael Martin and Nerve.com.