The silver-piped Ed Dowie pulls up a pew and gets ready to face down our quick-fire question machine
Where are you right now and what can you see?
“I’m currently watching a squirrel that comes to our balcony every day looking for the nuts that I keep putting out for him, mainly to entertain our cat.”
Let’s start with Brothers In Sound, shall we?
“Why not. It’s hard to believe that it’s more than 20 years ago.”
Isn’t it just. I reviewed your first London show for Melody Maker…
“Oh wow! Amazing! I wonder if that’s the gig we called ‘Brothers In Sound Get Married’ at The Water Rats? We hired wedding suits, drank champagne and smoked cigars onstage as I remember. We definitely fulfilled our teenage dreams of ‘being in a band’ and ‘being schmoozed by record labels’.”
In our experience, schmoozed tends to lead to hard lessons learned…
“If anything, we just had a great time, unaware that we were living at the height of an era where a major label would spend a not inconsiderable amount of money on an act like us. The lessons came later on, when I realised that wasn’t how things would always be.”
Ultimately, was it looking like Hanson that scuppered Brother In Sound?
“Ha-ha! I definitely had a good few years where I would have ‘MMMBop’ shouted at me in the streets on a daily basis.”
Talking of angelic cherubs, you were a chorister in your younger days?
“I was very lucky to grow up with a musical education from my dad, singing in his choir and learning the organ. He composes choral music, he’s an incredible musician. So many aspects of my musical sensibilities come from him.”
The new album is a change of tack from your debut… or is it a progression?
“I really hope it’s a progression. I feel that I’m following a line to where I want to get to. I don’t want to make the same music twice.”
Good to see Leafcutter John co-producing. What did he bring to the pot?
“John was amazing. He just seemed to know exactly what to do to make something work. He brought everything to life in a way that felt like magic.”
There’s a life-time of influences here, from the Minimalists to Vince Clarke…
“I’m not very good at recognising my influences, but I am coming to accept that everything I do is the summation of everything I’ve done. Up until fairly recently I’ve been reluctant to see it in that way, partly it’s because every time I start to write a song, I feel like I have no idea how to write a song.”
It’s all about maximum emotional impact by the most minimal means, right?
“Ooh I like that! I hope that’s what I’m doing. It’s a really necessary process to strip away everything that gets in the way of expressing an idea. Simplicity can be really challenging sometimes.”
It’s a proper A-side/B-side record isn’t it?
“It’s such an interesting process going from having some songs on the go, to working out what it’s all about, to how they will all fit together, and what might get discarded along the way as it doesn’t fit into what is hopefully, a coherent piece of work.”
And yet no songs about the joys of the pub lunch?
“No, that’s a shame isn’t it? I would dearly love to be sat in a pub garden reading a menu and working out whether the pie of the day will be amazing or mediocre.”
Scampi and chips on us when all this is over?
“Yes please, that would be terrific.”