In the space of just two albums, Everything Everything have cemented themselves as one of the premier acts to emerge out of the UK in the last five years.
Having been nominated for Mercury and Ivor Novello awards, the Mancurian four piece are revered for their ability to constantly evolve their sound, while still managing to retain an essence that is defiantly Everything Everything. No more is that clearer than on their latest album Get To Heaven.
Initially inspired by the unrelenting barrage of horrific news stories that fell on us like an avalanche in 2014, the record is an examination of the primitive nature of humanity in the face of brutality, and traces a very us against The Man mentality.
Musically it reaches right deep down into your consciousness, drawing upon tribal beats and primitive rhythms to connect with the listener on a primordial level, and in a way help them rediscover that pure human connection to music.
Thrillingly for Australian audiences, Get To Heaven is set for release on June 22, just before the group returns to Australia for their second appearance on the Splendour In The Grass line-up in late July.
We spoke to the band via email about their thoughts and motivations behind the new album, how the events of 2014 actually played apart in the album’s construction, the process they went through picking the brightest / most horrific image they could conjure as an album cover, and what we can look forward to when they return to Oz in July.
[V]: Your frontman, Johnathan Higgs, said in interviews that when you set out to record Get To Heaven last year you were going to let yourselves be informed by the world events of 2014. Can you hear those influences on the final finished product as it stands now, or did you evolve away from that idea throughout recording?
EE: You can definitely hear the influence lyrically throughout, though the emphasis did change from a very negative and violent angle to one of transcendence and escapism as time went on. One of the ideas behind the title ‘Get to Heaven’ was to say ‘don’t let them win’ and try to be positive and have hope. Musically it’s impossible to pin down anything that is directly relating to a real world event but there is a general sense of urgency and strong emotion that veers between negative and positive.
There’s a definite tribal sound to the first two singles ‘Regret’ and ‘Distant Past’, and a lot of that has to do with the rhythm of both songs and certain elements of the vocals that sound like chanting. Has world music been an influence on this record at all? It reminds me of Yeasayer, who often cited the influence of international music.
I wouldn’t say ‘world music’ exactly but perhaps more primitive, basic music and ideas. We tried to ‘go with our gut’ a lot more when we were writing and recording, and those sounds; chanting, drumming, etc are the ones that hit you deepest and first.
The video for ‘Distant Past’ is a battle between two wild men atop a cliff who have survived some sort of apocalypse. While the video for ‘Regret’ is about a cult watching their leader burn in a forest. As well as the brutal nature of both videos, they’re both back dropped by scenes of stunning wilderness. Has human nature vs natural beauty been an undercurrent theme of the record? They seem to be two elements that tie the videos together.
Yes I think that duality is something we’ve always talked about, human nature and what is ‘natural’ and what’s right or wrong with it. I always wanted the visual elements of this record to be violent, full of energy and passion, partly as a response to the extreme level of international violence in the media in 2014, and also as a comment on desensitisation and ‘terror in the every day’.
Where else did you look for inspiration on this record? Did your own lives and experiences edge their way into the fold?
Yeah our own lives always get in there whether we like it or not! Every part of all our records is informed by our experiences. I think we a felt quite beaten down by the last year or so, and we all wanted to rise above it on this record.
You worked with Stuart Price to produce the record. What did he bring to your sound? He’s worked with everyone from Kylie to Example to Missy Elliott. There are some really danceable moments in the songs, and almost a level of rapping in the delivery of ‘Distant Past’, was that part of his influence?
Distant Past was actually demoed in pretty much the same format before Stuart came along but he certainly helped bring it to life. He brought lots of great detail and balance, he really knew how to adapt himself into our world, which was amazing. Drum sound and synth work were his greatest attributes specifically I think, but overall he was a kind of ‘mood man’ and had this amazing positive attitude and unflappable sense of management.
The album cover art by Andrew Archer is really stunning. How did you find his work and was the cover art a collaboration between him and the band?
Yeah it’s cool isn’t it! We wanted something outlandish for the cover, and we found Andrew by searching through loads of extreme illustrators and artists. His work really stuck out as being colourful and bright, yet also quite horrific. We really liked the way he took violence and gore and made it childish and palatable, surreal and fun. Yes it was a collaboration, we mocked up the image using old photos of a faith healing and then he drew it in his style. It took ages to get the expression in that eye right!
You’re set to play the Splendour In The Grass festival for the second time this year in July. You’re all now veterans of some fairly massive festivals across the globe. How does Splendour compare on an international front?
Well we did Splendour once before as you say, and it was mind-blowing to be honest. Our first time in Australia and people were singing every word of our songs. Unbelievable! We can’t wait to get back, it’s been one of our favourite festival experiences.
I’m assuming you’ll be playing a few new songs live when you arrive in Oz. Are there any tracks off the new record you’re particularly excited for fans to see on stage?
We have a song called ‘No Reptiles,’ which has been going down really well everywhere we’ve played it, so we are very proud of that one. 99% of the new record is really lively and high energy so it’s perfect for the live circuit, and we can’t wait to play it Down Under.