Three years have elapsed since Klaxons gave the music industry a much-needed injection of energy with their Mercury Prize-winning debut 'Myths Of The Near Future' in 2007. In that time, they've toured relentlessly and – if past interviews are to be believed – battled to make the album's follow-up.
Yet, after a change of producer and direction, they're back with 'Surfing The Void'. So what better time to talk to bassist and singer Jamie Reynolds about the album and – amongst other things – what it's like performing sober.
'Surfing The Void' kicks off with new single ‘Echoes’. Is it intended as a statement of intent for the album as a whole?
“I think so, although I think it’s just the bridge between the two records - the one that we’d carried along with us for the longest amount of time - and it felt like the first one that we should let people hear. It definitely kicks, but the intents is all the way through it and I don’t think it’s fair to put it all on one track.”
Do you think it was important to have that bridge because it’s been three years since your debut ‘Myths Of The Near Future’?
“No, because I don’t think three years is a problem - I think that’s a pretty standard amount of time it takes for bands to put records out. I just think that it’s feasible and that we loved it, and it was the one we wanted people to hear.”
‘Surfing The Void’ sounds like a very hedonistic journey. Do you thinks that’s representative of how you are as people?
“It’s very much what the band represents - that kind of celebration and release - and the album sort of speaks of our experiences with that in mind over the last couple of years.”
Can you just talk a bit about the recording process and how the album came together.
“There were two songs - ‘Echoes’ and ‘Valleys Of The Calm Trees’ - we’d had for a year and a half, and then the whole of thing came together when we finished touring last September. It was a two month period where we rehearsed and we were writing - and it’s during that two month period that the bulk of the record came together during that period of time.”
It’s been well documented that you worked with different producers, including Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford. What eventually led you to settle with Ross Robinson (The Cure, At The Drive-In)?
“All the chat wasn’t really correct about the producers. We only really ever worked with James Ford and there was only a two day period where we didn’t have a producer. And it was during that point that Ross came to us completely our of the blue and asked us if he could be the producer, and it was just one of the moments where we went, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what we need.’
“Given that we’d already written the songs we didn’t think that he was going to drag us in another direction. If you look at the bands that he’s working with - no matter what they sound like - he always manages to get people perform to the best possible. And that need to drag the best out of us was the correct approach for the record.”
Klaxons new single 'Echoes'.
Do you think he managed to capture the live side of Klaxons?
“He’d never heard us, he’d never seen us - he had absolutely no idea. All he did was get whatever it was out of playing our instruments out to the absolutely best of our ability.”
In hindsight, is that a good idea that he had no expectation except for the songs?
“Yeah, absolutely. There was just no conversation about music - that’s the really exciting thing. All he knows is what you’re working on at that exact point in time, and how to make that the absolutely best it can be.”
You previously said that there was some “denser” songs that you left off the record. Are there plans to release them down the line?
“Yeah, absolutely. They’re just being mixed now and will be out some point early next year. We want absolutely everything…I mean, what will happen is a collection of those songs will come out as b-sides to singles from this record and those that don’t we’ve also got a collection of songs that make up an EP, and we want that to come out early next year, which is very exciting for us. We want people to hear absolutely everything we’ve done over this period and dispel any myths about there being any problems.”
Does the music change quit noticeably sound wise?
“Yeah, absolutely. I think we were making very slow, very dense and very beautiful music that had no consideration to putting towards a Klaxons record - we were just exploring our craft and just exploring the fact that we were becoming songwriters. We weren’t thinking about it in the sense of the seconds Klaxons record, we were just making weird music which we absolutely loved and are excited for people to hear.”
Was there a point last year where your record label said you need to make a second album?
“No, there was nothing coming from the label with regards to having to do stuff. It was our decision after our gig in Coventry [in July, 2009] to start making the record. Particularly I think for myself and Simon [Taylor] we hadn’t decided that we were going to make another record, and that was the point that we had to start making it.”
‘Myths Of The Near Future’ received widespread critical acclaim, including the 2007 Mercury Prize for best album. Did that add a certain level of expectation and pressure to the record process?
“I don’t think so. For us it’s just about making the right personal expression. I know I’m quoted as talking about us as being a pop band, and that’s first and foremost what we are, and the difference between this and the music that comes out next year is that’s not pop music. I think that we are a pop band - we’ve always said that from the beginning - and so with that in mind only for ourselves to make pop music that excites us. The pressure aren’t thinking about commercial success - that doesn’t come into our minds - we just want to challenge ourselves to write pop music.”
You must be excited to be back on the road and finally playing this record live?
“Yeah, absolutely, We’re fourteen gigs in to playing this record live now and it couldn’t be going better. We’re performing better than we ever have, we’ve got a new approach to playing. Our whole thing is that we make music for other people to enjoy and celebrate, and playing live is where the band is best.”
How has your approach to performing live changed?
“We’re kind of stronger and we’re sober - I think the sobriety thing’s got a massive thing to do with it. We’re actually figured out that we can play these songs and we’re going on stage sober and playing them to their best, playing into the songs, where as before we were just a train wreck. Now we’re playing as a strong unit.”
Did you get together as a band and make the decision that you needed that approach?
“No it just came from working with Ross really, I mean that was our approach to making the record, and it’s just continued into the performing the record and it’s making all the old ones sound better and the new ones sounding great. It’s exciting for us at this point in time.”
When you emerged you were immediately heralded as the leaders of new rave. Since then a number of bands have adopted the sound. Do you feel like you've inspired them?
“Do you know what - and I say this quite a lot - is that all I really want is a band to come and blow us out the water. If I could have any influence, I’d want people to think that we were a bag of shit and want to beat us.”
Is that from a competitive mindset?
“No, just for the sake of creativity, you know. I just want people to beat us, to smash us. That’s what I’d love - I’d love to be in awe of some band coming along and smashing us, that’s really what I kind of hope for.”
'Surfing The Void' is released on August 23.