We’re not famous. We have fame because of our music. We don’t have a level of celebrity. We’re the same people, but our passports are a little more used.
story by Garin Pirnia
photo by Jill Furmanowsky
Rock bands tend to get polarized into two categories. If a band has an anthemic, soaring guitar sound, they are automatically dubbed Coldplay or U2. If a band creates dark, brooding music, they get compared to the likes of Interpol and Joy Division. Whereas being compared to any band acts as a point of reference, it’s not at all the best way to judge the music. Birmingham quartet Editors has been building steam since their frenetic 2005 debut, The Back Room. Many critics have labeled them “The British Interpol” for their gloomy, sonic landscapes, lead singer Tom Smith’s baritone vocals and his psychological lyrics — but don’t compare them to Interpol. It pisses them off.
“Of course it bothers you,” Smith tells Chicago Innerview. “We’re Editors. There are moments in our sound with similarities to other bands, that’s fine. The press always puts bands in boxes. Yes there are moments, but when we put all things together, we sound like Editors. I don’t think we sound like Interpol.” The band’s influences encompass R.E.M. (Editors play a great live cover of “Orange Crush”), Spiritualized, and LCD Soundsystem. Classifying their music is also murky terrain. Post-punk comes to mind, but according to Smith, guitarist Chris Urbanowicz stated it best with the term “new grave.” Says Smith: “We make exciting, passionate, rock music — music that makes you feel alive, gets your blood pumping, makes you dance, and touches your emotions.”
Before becoming Editors, they called themselves The Pride then changed it to Snowfield. They wanted a record deal and decided on a name not associated with any definite imagery. Editors was born and soon The Back Room evolved, generating the pulsating hit “Munich” and lots of hype. Expectations to follow it up with a better or equally affable album inevitably surfaced. “You don’t want to let yourself down or be a flash in the pan, or just be lucky,” says Smith. “We know we’ve made improvements. It’s a step forward from the last one,” he says of new record An End Has a Start.
After a two-year hiatus, Smith and company went back into the studio and recorded End, which was released Stateside in July. Half of the songs deal with themes of death but there’s also an aura of hope to them, such as these lyrics from the title track: “You came on your own /That’s how you’ll leave /With hope in your hands/ And air to breathe.” And on “Bones”, Smith declares: “In the end all you can hope for/ Is the love you felt to equal the pain you’ve gone through.”
“I’m not a deeply troubled person but I do worry at times,” says Smith. “It’s more meaningful to say something more, to delve deeper when I write lyrics.” Smith mentions that the greatest difference between the two records is that the former sounds claustrophobic while the new songs weren’t fully formed before they went into the studio — thus they had more time to experiment and add texture. Their sound live is huge, even bigger than on the albums. “Playing live is the most pure way of expressing your sound,” says Smith. “It’s important for people to see our faces.”
Since Editors started out a few years ago, they’ve come a long way. The band managed to quit their day jobs working in a bank call center and a shoe shop. Music is their job now. “We’re not famous,” says Smith. “We have fame because of our music. We don’t have a level of celebrity. We’re the same people, but our passports are a little more used.”
Editors :: with Biffy Clyro and Ra Ra Riot :: Park West :: Sept. 11.