Editors Interview - Editors making their own headlines

EMMA LEE Fresh from a triumphant summer festival season, Editors kick off their UK tour with a sold-out show at UEA, Norwich, on Monday. Emma Lee caught up with the band’s Suffolk-born drummer Ed Lay.


Watching music festivals on the TV might save you from getting trench-foot and having to brave the dodgy toilets, but it's rare that you get the 'shiver down your spine' moment you would if you were part of the crowd.

But watching Editors at Glastonbury from the comfort of the sofa was an exception to the rule.

Singer Tom Smith's emotionally-charged performance was compelling - and a clear sign that for their sophomore album, An End Has a Start, they had upped their game.

Drummer Ed Lay, originally from Ipswich but now living in the band's adopted home city of Birmingham, says that it was as much fun being on stage as it looked.

“I think Glastonbury has to be one of our favourite gigs of all time - the timing of the slot, the stage, the amount of people, the way we played - it was like the stars were aligned for that hour. We didn't want to come off the stage,” he says.

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The band (the line-up is completed by Chris Urbanowicz on lead guitar and synth and Russell Leetch on bass guitar and backing vocals) met at university in Staffordshire, where they were studying music technology.

Frequently compared in the early days to Joy Division (singer Tom's voice is reminiscent of Ian Curtis) and Interpol, their dramatic and urgent retro sound - with the requisite spiky guitars and disco beats a la Franz Ferdinand - soon found an audience and they were signed to the Kitchenware label in 2004.

Their first single, a limited edition pressing of Bullets released early in 2005, was quickly picked up by XFM and BBC 6Music.

And the debut album, the Back Room, spawned more singles, including Munich and Blood, and was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, where it was pipped at the post by Arctic Monkeys.

For Ed, being in a band had been a long-held ambition - and, as he explains, UEA, the first date of the band's tour on Monday, is a venue he has a fondness for.

“I used to play in bands when I was about 14 or 15 and I used to love watching bands at UEA,” he says.

“It's a special place for us. I remember seeing Ash, Therapy and Elastica. Seeing bands there excited me and made me want to go out and join a band. It was a big part of my life back then, so it's a privilege to play there myself,” he says.

Heartbreaking and haunting, An End Has a Start is one of the year's most accomplished albums.

The band worked with the Grammy award-winning producer Garret 'Jacknife' Lee, who was also collaborated with such big names as U2 and Green Day and it was recorded in Ireland.

Lyricist Tom Smith's words are darker - and the musical vision broader, with the singles Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors and An End Has a Start a stirring indication of the direction they're taking.

“It took a lot longer to record than the Back Room,” says Ed. “With that album, we wanted to capture that live energy. For this one we wanted to make it grander, try and make it more cinematic. We had more time to experiment and create different sounds. We worked very hard doing it.

“Certainly, Tom always tries to evoke reactions in people. The listener will interpret it as they see fit. And we try to find points of real beauty to contradict it - push and pull. It's an album of space and emotion,” he adds.

As Tom has put it himself in an earlier interview: “There is a lot of death on the record - that sounds pretty morbid, but it's the truth. Death has touched me and my friends in the last year in several ways. Realising everything comes to an end is important and I think we've done our best to make it something glorious and uplifting as well as scary.”

Something else that fuelled the new album was the buzz of touring - getting to visit far-flung destinations and soak up other cultures.

And Ed says that he's really looking forward to getting back on the road.

“We've not toured properly for quite some time. We did all the festivals which was good fun - and we're all really looking forward to the tour. We're testing it out in America first.

“Japan was amazing - people say it's so different to any other culture and that's right. I suppose the next step up would be to go to China and experience that. We get to see some incredible places.”

For Ed, being on stage is exhausting.

“I drum quite intensively - I like working hard and hit the drums pretty much as hard as possible, so it's my own fault really. But the band's sound is about the energy and drive, so I'm perfectly happy to take one for the team.”

Their schedule sounds quite hectic too.

“We're always busy - there's always that something to think about. We've been rehearsing this week for America, and we'll go and do radio shows. It's hard to wrap your head around. We've got used to it. You get used to the travelling. But it is a shock to the system - you don't see family and friends for months. We're quite mature about it - we all understand what needs to be to keep growing as a band,” he says.

t Editors play UEA, Norwich, on Monday. The gig is sold out, but check with the box office for returns on 01603 508050. The latest album, An End has a Start, is out now.