The stage at 9:30 Club is only about three feet tall, but given the high that the Birmingham, England-based Editors are riding into D.C., you may have to crane your neck a little more than usual.
The band’s first album, The Back Room, took the music world by storm, going platinum and hitting No. 2 on the U.K. charts. In 2006 that album earned the group a nomination for the Mercury Prize, an award given to the best British or Irish album in the past 12 months. While Editors lost out on that accolade (to Arctic Monkey’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not) their followup album, An End Has a Start, released in late June of this year, has already hit No. 1 in U.K. and on the U.S. Heatseeker chart.
“We’ve been having a fantastic time. Everything’s been brilliant,” says Editors bassist Russell Leetch over the phone from across the Atlantic. “We just got in our van and played our music for people. You can’t really plan for the rest.”
“The rest” would refer to the band’s rapid ascension that has taken them to the top of the charts and performances all over the world, from festivals in Europe to gigs in Istanbul and Osaka. When pressed, Leetch admitted that the widespread touring of The Back Room, has been one of the few bumps on their road that started when the group formed while studying Music Technology at Staffordshire University.
“We were supposed to tour The Back Room more, but we just said enough is enough. It was monotonous playing the same songs all the time,” Leetch says before softening his one and only gripe. “Of course, when you get to play your music to crowds in New Zealand and Australia you realize how great it is.”
On the upshot, Leetch was more than happy their newfound success bought them some more time in the studio recording An End Has a Start. Whereas the group recorded The Back Room, their first album on U.K. label Kitchenware Records, in two and a half weeks, they had a full three months to touch up their sophomore effort.
An End Has a Start furthers the band's macabre ambience, dealing with themes of mortality and loss. Enhancing the gloomy sentiments that dominate opener “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors” and the album's title track are the deep vocals of frontman Ben Smith, who sounds like he should be voicing villainous characters on Broadway if he wasn't busy leading his band to fame and fortune. Piercing the doom and gloom are the shrieking strings and synths of lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, while Leetch and drummer Ed Lay boom out the anthemic marches from the rhythm section.
While their sound has earned them accolades and followers by thousands, it has also earned them an almost constant comparison to popular New York indie band Interpol.
“We seem to spend a lot of time talking about that [in the press],” Leetch says. “We like their music and they’ve said that they like ours, but we’re two different bands. We like to think we sound like Editors, but people want to bracket us in with Interpol.”
Leetch’s reaction is rather mild compared to frontman Smith’s quote in the Edinburgh Evening News.
“If you’re a music journalist and you’re saying that [Editors’ second album sounds like Interpol], you’re deaf and you need a new job.”
All told, the comparisons seem like a bigger issue to those outside of the band than within it. For the most part Leetch and his mates are just relishing their rise and having a little fun along the way, such as when drummer Lay donned a monkey suit and frolicked about the stage during a set by Basement Jaxxx at Lowlands Festival in Holland.
“[He’s] a little bit [of the clown in the group], yeah,” Leetch laughs when asked about Lay’s monkey business. “He just likes to have fun, so we can’t complain.”
Leetch said the band will be looking to have a little bit of fun in the States prior to their date at 9:30 Club, September 4.
“We’ve played 9:30 Club two times before and we tend to go to the same bar around the corner and have drinks with some fans,” Leetch says. While he couldn’t remember the name of the watering hole, the band shouldn’t be hard to spot. Just look for the gents riding in on the wave of momentum.
• Tickets for the Sept. 4 show are $15. For more on Editors, visit www.editorsofficial.com.