Fresh faced from the release of Arc, Everything Everything’s Alex Robertshaw takes a break from packing his tour suitcase to chat to Emily Mullen about appealing to the masses, experimentation and setting the record straight with the media
No one can deny that Everything Everything are getting big; this repetitive name just seems to be, no pun intended, everywhere. From a million different flashing Spotify ads the country over, to bombarding our radios with a succinct little cough cough, it is hard to escape the Manchurian foursome, and this year they’re only set to get bigger. The band are a part of the increasingly popular movement of alternative-pop, a rather evangelistic movement intent on spreading alternative music, somehow disguised as pop, to the ignorant masses, rather like a wolf in a sheep’s woolly jumper ethos.
This slightly blasé assertion is one that Alex Robertshaw, the bands guitarist, surprisingly agrees with: “Arc has definitely got the accessibility hook that we were missing on the first album and I think that it will continue to get more people on board because we tried really hard to make it have that access point this time round and hopefully if you have a feel around in the album there is more depth there too. It’s just trying to get the balance right, and I think we’ve done it a lot better on this record. It’s always just dodgy, like you have something to say but you don’t want to come across patronising, like “This is wrong. You shouldn’t be listening to that!’ I mean we are just a band after all.”
During the interview Robertshaw made his intentions clear: he wished to readdress the misunderstanding that many journalists have had about the bands’ sophomore album. “We don’t feel like we should be writing lots of different songs that sound the same, and you get a misjudgement in the press sometimes saying that we are confused or that we haven’t found ourselves or whatever, but that is just a complete miscomprehension. It’s completely missing the point, missing our point. We purposely went out there to do lots of different things. We figured that that would be a far more exciting listen than listening to one track and then a pile load of more tracks that are just filler which some people call albums. That wasn’t the plan we didn’t set out to write a lot of songs that sound the same, we wanted as many variables as possible. Let these ideas live and breathe a bit more.”
Whatever assertions Robertshaw may make, there is no getting away from the fact that as a whole the album is incoherent, with untenable links, though deliberately forged, making little or no sense to the listener. A conscious effort was made to be different, an exceedingly conscious one: “Our comfort zone is trying to go against the grain and trying to be awkward. With our first album we were scared that we were going to come across as ordinary, that were just going to be writing songs that had already been written before, and this time we just decided that we shouldn’t be afraid of these tools that make songs great songs and we just ignored all of those fears and just focused on the song writing and on being precise and be less scatty and to feel confident in playing less sometimes, and just letting the melody and the harmony do the work. So stepping outside of our comfort zone is probably stepping into our comfort zone. Trusting our instincts more and trying to not be afraid of treading on boundaries that we might have tread on before. I mean it’s okay to revisit stuff if it ends in a great song. We feel more confident in our ability to write a song, and songs that people are going to want to listen to.”
Despite Robertshaw’s belief in the accessibility of the album in contrast to Man Alive, it does contain tracks that are so hooky and so melody driven that the listener is engaged, not through the sheer scale of the musicality but through the correct formation of all these different styles. Is it wrong to expect a band to create an album full of these types of songs? Perhaps, but it would have reinforced the bands argument a little more if their experimentation had borne more successful results. Yet perhaps it was just an inevitability that a project such as Arc should sound a little incoherent.
Complete with this rather dogmatic attempt to sound different, the construction of overtly political themes within the framework of those haphazard lyrics and an urge to collect a diverse listenership, Everything Everything are quite something. They are trying to make a difference, and though slightly incoherent and confused at times, their variety is a welcome addition to our ad space and our radio waves. After all, as Robertshaw asserts: “It’s not like we’ve found ourselves, we are just exploring and that’s what’s exciting and that’s what makes us excited.”
Everything Everything play Whelan’s on February 18th. Their new album Arc is out now.