The Doves fly once more
Almost three years after their hit record, The Last Broadcast, The Doves are back with a new album, Some Cities. Lead singer Jimi Goodwin talks about being inspired by her home city, Manchester.
Nearly three years after their smash hit album, The Last Broadcast, atmospheric guitar-toting rock trio the Doves are back with a vengeance.
The Manchester band's new single Black And White Town is already on shelves, while the long-awaited third album Some Cities is just out - plus they're kicking off a nationwide tour which calls in at Norwich.
It's a long way from 1993 dancefloor sensation Aint No Love (Aint No Use) as the group's first incarnation Sub Sub.
And they've had more than their fair share of bad luck on the way - a massive studio fire destroyed most of their equipment and new tracks in 1995, then just four years later came the death their mentor, New Order manager Rob Gretton.
But you can't keep a good band down and today charismatic frontman Jimi Goodwin is on top of the world and more than ready match the huge chart successes of anthemic tracks like There Goes The Fear.
“The album is another twist and turn of us as songwriters - it's three years on from the last one, and naturally things change, but I felt no real pressure from outside this time because you're doomed if you start thinking about current trends or anticipating what people might want.
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“Our own barometer is enough and we take our music that seriously that hopefully nothing gets past us.
“We were lucky to have had Sub Sub to prepare us for the Doves,” he adds. “We made loads of mistakes and it was a learning curve but as with all the best bands that I've grown up loving there's a real chemistry and a dynamic.
“Like with New Order, if you take Peter Hook out then you disband the entire group because you can't replace him, and when those people make music together something happens - each part is irreplaceable and I like to think we have that,' says the 34-year-old.
“All three of us write and it's a strength of our band that we all contribute equally - some songs are literally born from the rehearsal room where we just write from the ground up.'
It's no real surprise that the Doves are such an intimate, close-knit band - Jimi met the Williams twins, Andy on drums, and Jez on guitar and keyboards, in Wilmslow when they were all just 15.
“We're like family - obviously there are days when we bicker but it's always about the music,' Jimi laughs.
“Andy and Jez are quite different but they're naturally very close - sometimes you just see this connection between them and sometimes they tend to just agree instinctively on things, it's uncanny.
“But you know, they got all their rivalry out their systems when they were about 11 and they're very mellow people - I'm the neurotic one and they tend to calm me down as they can always see a path through a problem whereas I'm just a hothead,' he grins.
Produced by Ben Hillier, the man behind Blur's critically acclaimed Think Tank, Jimi says all they set out to do initially with Some Cities was to make it a bit more soulful - although he's quick to point out that musical direction is anything but predictable.
“Music is supposed to be intuitive and the song should almost show you what it wants and what it needs - you can't have a committee meeting about it.
“In that sense Ben was great to work with - he's dead experimental like us and very quick as well which is great because left to our own devices we just tinker and tinker and over-egg the pudding perhaps.'
Mainly written in the shadow of the dramatic and sweeping landscapes of Snowdonia and the Peak District, the album was all wrapped up by August last year, but Jimi says they decided not to release it straight away because they had a gut feeling that the timing wasn't quite right.
“We didn't want to end up going head to head with Freddie Mercury or something at Christmas! I don't think we're quite at 'Best Of' levels yet and the last thing you want after you've worked so hard is to get buried,' he grins.
“We're lucky we can get away from it all to write our stuff and just rent a van, hire a cottage and get out of the city for a bit and focus - we know the Peak District pretty well obviously as it's the nearest bit of fresh air and countryside outside of Manchester.'
But nothing beats coming home for the band - since the Doves hit the big-time, they've spent more time away from Manchester than ever before and that shows in their music.
“The album is really about Manchester and our experiences of coming home after being away so much in the last six years - in fact our debut single from the album, Black and White Town, is about suburbia and escape. It just felt right for a comeback single.
“It even stretches back to the post-IRA bombing in 1996 - out of tragedy comes rejuvenation and it's just observations of the good and bad of that,' Jimi explains.
“It's like when great building that you're really attached to get replaced by a horrible office block and it angers you, but at the same time fantastic things are also happening in Manchester.'
Speaking of which, Jimi can't wait to get back to playing gigs in front of their ever-loyal home crowd.
“I'm really looking forward to it - it's great but obviously as you get older things like family pressure creeps into it, and you try to juggle everyone and make sure everyone's happy with everything.
“But I'm not going to moan about it - the gig is the most important bit of the day and everything else is just peripheral,' he laughs.
t Doves play the UEA, Norwich, on March 11. Call 01603 508050 or visit www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk