Doves is a British band who just released their new album, Kingdom of Rust a follow up to their 2005 smash hit, Some Cities, and are currently finishing the US leg of their tour. The band is comprised of Jez Williams (guitar, vocals), Andy Williams (drums, vocals), and Jimi Goodwin (bass, vocals, guitar).
Epilogue: How has the response to the new album been?
Jimi Goodwin: Unbelievable, we can’t believe it. After being away for so long it has been really encouraging, almost humbling really. We did not know what to expect after having been away for so long. You have days when you are writing it and recording it and you wonder if you are still vaguely relevant. You are filled with doubt sometimes when you are writing it, because you are just locked away and you don’t know what to expect. All you can do is make sure it is as watertight as we thought it could be.
Doves are in a weird position because all of your albums have been received better than the previous release, did that put a lot of pressure on Kingdom of Rust?
Yeah, I think so.
What were you guys doing for those three years between Some Cities and Kingdom of Rust?
Honestly, it took a lot longer to reveal itself. From January to April 2006 we confined ourselves at the studio. We bought loads of gear, got a wish list together of what we wanted and started doing it ourselves again really. We did loads and loads of songs, not saying that they are all finished but we had at least 50-60 ideas. And wittled it down to what we ended up with, with a couple in reserve. There are things that we’ve got for next time. That we are close to finishing; there is some good stuff that might speed up the process.
So it won’t be another three years?
I never say, “never.” It takes as long as it takes, really. We are going for something a bit different next time, maybe even try to do a film thing before we start the album. Maybe doing something and just giving it away. Like a weird seven or eight track EP, a mini album. A lot of our stuff is very filmmaking atmospheric. We grew up loving all that stuff.
Are there any particular films that inspire you guys?
Anything by David Lynch. Blade Runner, Made for TV cop shows. Stuff that we can sample and fuck up. It has always been with us. That and our past in house music, we took it with us. It’s spirit and attitude, we still have that, that euphoria.
A couple of your albums have been recorded in the countryside, rather than an urban environment. Is nature a big influence?
Nature definitely came up this time more so than ever. It has a lot of observations on traveling through worlds and environments. There are a lot of references to the outside world, “Winter Hill,” “Kingdom of Rust,” “Birds Flew Backwards.” On the last record, Some Cities, a lot of it was done in the countryside but it ended up being about the changing face of Manchester and this one is a bit more pastoral.
You are about half way done with the tour right now, how is it going so far?
Really, really good. It’s been great. We haven’t been on tour for three and a half years and it is great to see how the new songs are going down. It’s great to be able to pick from our four records now and build a set. We are really having fun with it. We were chomping at the bit because we had been in the studio for so long, it really is enjoyable to get out there and play.
What are you guys going to do next? Keep touring?
We are going back to England to do the festival season. Glastonbury is the big highlight. This is our first Glastonbury in three years and before that we played it pretty much every year since about 1998 or 1999, so it’ll be great to go back and play there. Then we are doing our Delamere Forest show just outside Manchester and there will be lots of our friends and family there and then lots more festivals in the summer.
Is there a difference playing in the States than when you play back home (in England)?
Some cities in England are real sort of “listening” crowds, you can’t really tell if they are really, really feeling. American crowds seem a bit more vocal in their appreciation, when they hear a track they know, and they are really enjoying it. It’s great to get that reaction.
We have built up our fan base. I don’t think we will ever go over ground here (the US), it is such a big country, it would have happened by now. You have to end up living here (the US) and trying to, I wouldn’t say “crack it,” that is a bit of a cliché, and English band trying to crack the States and all that, but we are just bowled over that we still do have a fan base, a core of people who have been with us since day one, and have stuck with us.
Doves has been well received ever since your first EPs, that has to be nice.
It is. It’s a good position to be in. It is pretty amazing really.
Do you have any favorite tracks from the new album?
Playing live, I’m really enjoying playing “The Greatest Denier.” We are playing like, seven songs out of the new record, which is the bulk of the album. The next one we are trying to get in is “House of Mirrors,” but we just haven’t got the time yet at sound check to make it legit. “The Great Denier” is going down really well, “Winter Hill” is fun to play, “Jetstream” is great.
Any others besides “House of Mirrors” that are a little harder to pull off live?
“The Outsiders” took awhile to get working. It’s funny because you think that that one is direct and rocking. The ones you think that will be the easiest to play end up being the trickiest. “There Goes the Fear,” took us months really to actually understand it in a live setting. We have been surprised about how quickly they came together, playing them live, these ones.
One of the things that has always amazed me about “There Goes the Fear,” (from the release The Last Broadcast) most of your songs in general actually, is that you guys can write a longer pop song. Lots of bands, when they get to that four or five-minute mark they start to drag on, but “There Goes the Fear” is six minutes long, and you don’t even notice.
That’s good, that’s good. The funny thing about this new album is we got really really good at editing ourselves. We try and take a step back from it, and maybe take out a whole verse because it isn’t really adding anything to the story. “The Outsiders” originally was six, maybe seven minutes long and we turned it into a sort of three-minute attack. “House of Mirrors” was dead long and it didn’t need to be. We just got really good at making it all really tight, and hopefully no fatting around.
Is it harder with so much more music accessible to people to keep their attention?
Yeah, now more so than ever. Sadly to a lot of people, music is just wallpaper and they expect it to be free. It’s like it is a given that it is just a commodity and it has never been like that for us. Call me old fashioned, but we try to think and sit and build it so that you can listen to it (an album) in one sitting, as a whole. I think that is really important.
Your records do come through though, that they are recorded as albums, and not just a collection of songs.
We do take a lot of time on the sequencing and changing the order around. Literally right down to the wire. With two days to go on the mastering we were still changing the order of the album.
Did you have to pull any songs just for the order?
We did, yeah. We pulled a song called, “The Last Song.” I think it’s a bonus track in Japan. It’s out there, it’ll pop up on some b-side of some sort. If b-sides even exist anymore.
Besides nature, are there any other themes that you like to visit?
Travel always seems to pop-up. Whether it be physical travel or mental escape. Just trying to search or reach for a better place in a way. A lot of hope. All the miserable and the melancholy shot through with hope. There has always been something about escape and journey. Sort of a road trip really. All be it a quite sentimental one. I look at it like nature has reclaimed an industrial sort of site. It has been abandoned, the industry is gone, and nature has taken it back.
Are there any albums out that are inspiring you guys?
A kid in England called Malakai who we toured with before we came out here, from Bristol. It is really eccentric, Madvillain style hip-hop. He is really eccentric and it is a great record, chalked full of ideas, Ugly Side Of Love by Malakai.
I saw that you are a big Stones Throw fan; do you try and bring some hip-hop influence into your songs?
For me personally, when we were making the record, we listened to things like that, and Eden, Beauty and the Beat, that’s a great record. Whether or not it crept into our stuff, it creeps into my own demos and things that didn’t make the record. That is something I will pursue personally, that crazy collage of different styles
The podcasts that they (Stones Throw) gives away are like gold.
Yeah, and they’re free.
And they’re free. It’s a really good attitude. That goes back to the whole mix-tape culture of hip-hop.
Something that never really translated to rock music, or indie music, is that mix-taped thing.
Yeah, I guess its more swapping tapes with your friends, “You must hear this,” or “you must hear that.” I tried to do some podcasts for our website but I was told because of permission and all that shit, that you can’t do it. You have to get the rights and then it all gets a bit too series. The best thing you can do is be down to just put them out, so sue me.
That’s the attitude people have. If they want to find it for free, they usually find a way to get it.
Exactly, I know. Yeah, what can you do about it? There is an upside to it. If you look for the major label industry to get us out of this jam, it’s not going to happen, and it’ll be too late. With the whole Myspace thing, young bands don’t have a chance to be shit before they get good and that’s the downside these days.
A lot of bands are releasing their first record on a major label, and then you see them live, and they are awful because they didn’t get a chance to grow before they were put in the spot light.
Yeah, there is that and if your first couple of singles don’t do well you get dropped. There is no one willing to put the time in.
Obviously, we are affiliated with EMI, and I’m not trying to tell you that it is 100% indie, because it’s not. We have had a good experience with majors. We have been left alone to grow and grow. Our whole transition from Sub Sub to Doves was our painful period, where we had time to work out who we were, and what we wanted to be. I hope that is still possible, but the only way that is possible is to go the full on indie route, and get your stuff out there. The media, you know, has this constant thirst for the new, I’m all for it, but then you drop someone like a hot stone, and then you are no longer cool and all that sort of crap. It’s not healthy
Do you think more bands will do the Radiohead, In Rainbows style of release?
I keep hearing that and that people will only put out singles from now on. A lot of bands get to a certain situation now, where the only time they can make any money is by touring. We come out to America, and we might even be paying out of our own pocket by 5-$10,000, just to come and play. You don’t get any tour support anymore. We obviously try to limit that to happening as least as possible because we have families and everything. There is a cutoff point where I am like, “We can not afford to do this.”
But then, it is better when you are playing in England.
Yeah that’s the only place where we can get a little bit of a wage so to speak.