The At The Border Fan Q&A with Everything Everything
To celebrate a year of At The Border, the band very kindly agreed to answer some of our questions, plus those submitted by fans. We had an amazing response and couldn’t believe it when we received back around 60 answers!
All the answers are by Jonathan unless otherwise indicated. All photos of EE at Bluedot Festival taken by ATB.
Discography & Writing Process
Why have you not played any of the bonus tracks from Get To Heaven live? There is some real gold among them, especially Brainchild, We Sleep In Pairs and Hapsburg Lippp especially
Fabian Broicher (& similar from @hanreidy27)
The bonus tracks were bonus tracks because we didn’t feel they fitted or were up to the same standard as the proper album tracks. As a result, it means we don’t all agree on them, and therefore never play them. In the case of Hapsburg Lippp, it’s kind of impossible to play live too. Maybe one day, we’ve been busy playing the regular album as it is.
Why did you pick to use the names you did in the songs? (Monica, Anna, Matthew, Diana, etc.)
Monica was a direct reference to Friends, in my head MY KZ, UR BF took place on the set of Friends. Diana was a direct reference to Princess Diana, though in that song (Come Alive Diana) I was comparing the media hysteria surrounding Maddie McCann and Princess Diana. Anna just worked as a shout “Oh Anna I’ve done” kind of becomes O-AnnA-Ahv done which is easy to sing, Matthew is deliberately awkward and British sounding, so it’s like a real person.
For Jonathan: What are the words you say at the start of Spring Sun Winter Dread before “The hands loom heavy”?
Holy man with a pale yellow liver, crossed my palm on the banks of the river. It’s supposed to be a sort of incantation or ritual, but the guy in charge is kind of fucked up, with liver cirrhosis or something.
What is your favorite B-side over your whole discography?
I’m fond of our first ever B-side, Luddites and Lambs – B-side to Suffragette Suffragette.
On the track Regret, are you subtly referring to yourselves at the bit “Did you think that everything, everything would change?” or was it just a happy accident?
It was an accident but I saw it right away and liked the fact it was a self-reference, especially because it sounds like I’m talking about the band changing.
Would you consider self-producing an album? Having heard the b-sides (particularly those from Get To Heaven, like the alternate version of To the Blade) it sounds like you would be more than capable. Or is the influence of an outside producer something you consider essential?
Yes, we are getting closer and closer to it all the time. Get to Heaven was done by us to a large extent, and album 4 will be even more so. However, we all see the value in a 5th mind, and there are many, many people with more skills than we share that we can’t do without. The main thing a producer does for our band is keep us from stagnating and getting into fights.
How do you know when a song is done?
It never is, so I have come to the conclusion it’s finished when I hand over the demo to the rest of the band (if it’s my song), from there it’s all downhill!
Are there any songs you’ve written that you’d like to go back and change in any way?
Yeah loads, especially lyrics (eg. in Blast Doors I sing “whether you’re a have not or a have I got a question” when obviously it should have been “I have a question). I definitely think an artist is the worst judge though, and if we kept revising everything as we went along our music would become total shit. Have a listen to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells 1973, then Tubular Bells 2013 for a prime example of a middle-aged ‘re-imagining’ of a classic album (spoiler, it’s hilariously crap).
Does your label have much influence over the production of your music?
In all honesty, no. They really don’t. We are extremely lucky in this regard, but we’ve never had to change a thing. The only time that ever happened was the album cover for Get to Heaven, which they went back on anyway. Oh and they suggested we didn’t call Get to Heaven ‘Give me the Gun’ which was the working title – a good idea.
For each of you – what is your favourite EE song?
Jon – Tin
Mike – Tin
Jeremy – don’t know really. I’m really fond of a few of the less-well-trodden bits like Choice Mountain and Undrowned, I like The Peaks too. But I’d have given you a different answer three years ago. I’m probably just missing those songs as we haven’t played them live since 2013. Tin certainly has that special self-contained, fully formed magic of tracks like Teardrop by Massive Attack. I can say that cos me and Alex aren’t on it! It’s nigh-on impossible for us to separate our own experience of making the records from the experience of listening to them objectively. I never really listen to the records once they’re finished. But as I result when I do hear EE it’s more of a surprise and I do listen more objectively.
Alex: I like the newest thing we’ve written, I don’t tend to listen to what we’ve already done that much.
For Mike: After a show, you told me once that you came up with the drumbeat for the chorus in “Radiant” (one of your most genius ones) in the shower. So, what was the weirdest place you ever came up with a drumbeat?
Mike – That’s true! It was the chorus of Radiant that I came up with in the shower. Ideas can happen any time – mostly when you least expect them. I have beats in the voice recorder on my phone that were tapped on my knee or sang (badly) wherever I was. The shower’s probably still the weirdest place though.
For Alex: In some of the studio photos for Get To Heaven, you’re seen using a modular synthesizer. How much of it are we hearing on Get To Heaven and how deep into the modular world have you gotten?
Alex – Quite a lot, it’s actually one of the first sounds you hear in To The Blade. I’m much deeper now and use it all the time. There will be much more on the next album. It’s not just classic synth sounds, I use it for a lot of processing of drums and guitars now as well as classic east coast and west coast synth stuff. Doing a lot of granular sample stuff with vocals now also. It’s very versatile, which is why I’m really in to it.
What DAW software do you typically use in the studio to record your songs?
I_am_potato and Hitsujikai
Pro Tools, though we demo to a high level on Ableton, and lots of those sessions end up in Pro Tools.
What software does Pete run his MIDI keyboards through?
Will we ever see a return of everyone’s favourite producer, Dave Sardine?!
George Forby and Tamara Brett
We haven’t heard from Dave for a while, though apparently he was at the Grammys, narrowly missing out on a fight with security. He has his own cooking programme now; “You say Tomatoes, I grow Tomatoes” on Living TV, it’s shit though.
Do you practice at home?
We have a studio to rehearse in, and yes we all play by ourselves at home. Mike has an electronic drum kit now, I have a Tele that I’ve never changed the strings on.
ATB’s video of your Man Alive Ensemble performance is the most popular on our YouTube channel. Would you like to perform with an orchestra again and, if so, which of your more recent songs do you think would work particularly well with an orchestral arrangement?
No Reptiles would work well, so would Warm Healer.
What is your all-time favourite EE performance?
Probably Glastonbury 2015.
For Jonathan: How do you preserve your lovely falsetto vocals after so much touring?
The more I do it the stronger it gets. I’m worst when I’m back after a break. Warm up, drink water, steam inhalation, warm down, that’s all I do really. Oh, and play a gig.
Just wanted to know if you plan on going to other parts of the planet like Brazil? I know you have lots of fans there!
Brazil is pretty much my number one desired location to visit. We would love to, and hope to eventually.
Will you come and play in Norway sometime?
That would be great, if we can then we always try to make it work.
What’s your favourite food to eat on the road?
Bus-flakes. That’s breakfast cereal and milk in a plastic cup, eaten at 3AM on the stairwell of a lurching bus.
The US has some very strange things to do and places to visit. What was the weirdest or most interesting thing you saw on your American tour?
We started to pass signs for something called ‘The THING’ as we drove through the Arizona (?) desert. Hundreds of miles of signs saying ‘What is The THING?’ until eventually we got to it. There was a series of warehouses, containing a full size diorama of people getting tortured by mediaeval instruments, and HITLER’s CAR. Anyway that wasn’t The THING, the THING was (spoiler) a fucking MUMMY. An actual mummified body in a case.
If you could join any current band for one day, which band would you pick?
Queens of the Stone Age as the drummer.
Which band have you most enjoyed touring with?
Foals, Outfit and Dutch Uncles.
Who, dead or alive would your dream collaboration be?
Are there any songs you’d like to cover that you haven’t yet?
Jon – Yeah hundreds. I’d like to do Missing by Everything but the Girl.
Mike – Are ‘Friends’ Electric by Tubeway Army/Gary Numan
Which songs by other artists do you wish were your own?
God Only Knows, Bohemian Rhapsody, Smooth Criminal
What are your favourite album covers of other artists?
Rage against the Machine, Fear of Music, any Kraftwerk covers
What do you think of A Moon Shaped Pool?
George Forby & Brian Raine
Mostly pretty good.
What are your favourite track(s) from that album?
I’ve ignored the titles but the ‘singles’ have been good.