The Clientele
Photo: Andy Willsher / Pitch Perfect PR

The Clientele Compose Their Masterpiece With ‘I Am Not There Anymore’

In this extensive interview, The Clientele’s Alasdair MacLean discusses the indie band’s new masterpiece, I Am Not There Anymore, and their lengthy career.

I Am Not There Anymore
The Clientele
28 July 2023

What should an album do? What can an album do? These are the questions that lurk at the heart of the Clientele‘s new release, I Am Not There Anymore (Merge), an album that is fully alive to the possibilities of the LP as a format. Unlike traditional albums that are seeded alternately with singles and well-meaning second thoughts, or more recent listening formats that have largely dispensed entirely with the album structure in favor of individual tracks, I Am Not There Anymore makes an argument for the continued relevance of the LP as a holistic aural experience – at once a compendium of songs, a document of experimentation, as well as a vessel of personal and cultural remembrance.

Such intentionality has been a hallmark of this band. Over the course of their 32-year career, the Clientele, whose current lineup consists of Alasdair MacLean (vocals, guitar), James Hornsey (bass), and Mark Keen (drums, percussion), have long been exponents of carefully crafted, urbane pop songcraft. Yet the intrinsic risks of such an approach can be repetition and gradual ossification, an awareness of which can perhaps be detected with the band’s announced hiatus in 2011 after six albums, plus a compilation of early recordings, It’s Art, Dad (2005). After a sabbatical with Amor de Días by MacLean, the Clientele regrouped to record Music for the Age of Miracles (2017), an album that marked a new chapter and approach for the band. A sense of artistic confidence that comes with age and longevity surfaced on that recording, which has evolved further to inform I Am Not There Anymore.

The adventurous spirit of experimentation on the new album begins with the opening track, “Fables of the Silverlink”, which traverses melodies, moods, and memories over the course of eight and a half minutes – a bold move of pop archaeology that (honestly) recalls the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) in terms of its scope and ambition. Indeed, I Am Not There Anymore is the Clientele’s eighth full-length release, while Sgt. Pepper’s was also the Beatles’ eighth studio album. Coincidence? Regardless, I Am Not There Anymore exhibits a similar sensibility with cellos and violins, guest vocalists, field recordings, piano instrumentals, looping percussion, and other studio maneuvers, resulting in a pop psychedelic sound that equally recalls Revolver (1966).

From a lyrical standpoint, the album matches the aspiration and scale of the music. I Am Not There Anymore centers on the passing of MacLean’s mother in 1997 – this is a concept album and, more specifically, a requiem – with childhood images (“the hare in the moon”) arranged amid bucolic landscapes (“And I kissed your eyes, and I knelt like I prayed / And the garden stirred/ I was young again”) and nocturnal settings (“3 o’clock / Beginning of the winter night / Through the glass / I watched it when I was a child”). The LP meditates on the idea of memory as a bulwark against mortality and the subsequent non-linearity of time that can ensue – a perspective reflected in the album’s tracking, which consists of interludes and “radials” that move in different outward directions. This is an album engaged in worldbuilding. It possesses its own internal logic, musically, lyrically, and emotionally.

Taken together, the Clientele have reached a point of culmination, with I Am Not There Anymore representing the manifestation of a litany of pop ideas and techniques. This album is a masterpiece of style, thought, and execution. PopMatters had a chance to speak with Alasdair MacLean about their new album, with this interview taking place on June 15. The Clientele are currently on tour in the US this August.

I started listening to I Am Not There Anymore several weeks ago when I first received a copy, and I’ve been struck by its magnitude. It has a rare epic quality in terms of length and depth. I am especially struck by the opening track, “Fables of the Silverlink”, that’s over eight minutes long, which is definitely a challenge to the listener. Why did you choose to go with such a lengthy opening track? Was there some kind of statement on your mind? While listening to your album, I’ve been thinking about Sgt. Pepper’s, and it would be like starting with “A Day in the Life”, you know? In other words, why start with the climax? There seem to be palpable risks in this approach.

Well, it’s no challenge to the listener. It’s a massive f— you to the listener. [laughs]

That’s true. That’s another way of putting it for sure. [laughs]

But I think that I’ve gotten to the stage where I don’t care. I’ve always been a contrarian, you know. I was talking to someone in a different interview with James [Hornsey], our bass player who grew up in a little town in the south of England with me, a suburban town. We were saying one of the things that stifling atmosphere did to you and the kind of people who were there was that they turned you into a contrarian to the fingertips, and that doesn’t go away; that stays with you for the rest of your life. I think with the Clientele, when we made Suburban Light [2000], we thought it was a good record, but it didn’t get the traction that we’d hoped for because our hopes had been very high and very ambitious, you know? So, we reframed that work in a different way. We gave it a different spin with the next record and the record after that and this one. We just decided, really, let’s just do whatever we want.

This eight-minute song, “Fables of the Silverlink”, was a challenge set to me by my friend whom I work with, a great musician called Louis Philippe. He had written a song called “Miss Lake” [from An Unknown Spring (2007)] that is a three-minute pop song, but it doesn’t repeat any single part. There is no repetition of sections in it, and you don’t realize it when you listen to it. It just glides past you. Whereas with this one, I thought, I’ll do the same, but I’ll make it eight minutes long, and it’s not going to glide past you. It’s very dramatic, I think, and it sets the scene. There’s an initial kind of uncertainty, which is quite alien to the Clientele. We usually make quite crystalline statements, whether they are images or whether they’re actual statements of fact. They’ve all been very, very carefully honed, and they all fit in a symmetrical way. With this one, the last line is “I don’t know why” – a kind of admission. It’s opening up the gates around the uncertainty one can feel and the fact that you don’t have answers.

I think that by opening up the gates in terms of lyrics, in terms of the ideas, we also opened up the gates on this record in terms of the music. So, yeah, it really felt different. This is a different kind of album than any we’ve made before. And here’s your proof in the first eight minutes.

I noticed, too, in the publicity notes that this album involved a three-year process of recording. Is that the longest period of recording the Clientele has had? I know you’ve had periods of up to seven years between albums. Was this a particularly lengthy process of recording?

No, it wasn’t. It was, however, a lengthy process of waiting because when a song was finished, as soon as it was written, we recorded it. We went in, and we recorded it quickly, even sometimes to the extent of keeping in the mistakes because I think that when a song or a piece of music is first written, there’s a freshness to it, and after a while, your mind starts to impose a kind of boring symmetry onto the song. The bits that didn’t quite scan get shaved off, you know? I always think music’s more interesting when it’s unsymmetrical, when there’s three lines in one verse and then five in another, or there’s an extra half bar here or there.

So, the idea was to record immediately, like literally within a day of the song being finished – go into the studio and track it. What we waited for was the right approach in how to arrange it and produce it and mix it. That was much more time-consuming and complicated, but even then, it would be done quickly when it was finished. The actual ideas would come out quickly, but we would wait for the ideas, which could take a year, as with the first eight-minute song, “Fables of the Silverlink”. It took two years to compose and record that song, but probably about 120 minutes to actually write it.

That’s how the last two records have been made: waiting and waiting until the right idea comes. I think that longevity and patience are a response to the first four records we made when we were told you’ve got to do something new every 18 months. Otherwise, everyone will forget you. And that was stressful; that was difficult because I felt things were slipping through that shouldn’t have. Then, annoyingly, the minute we split up and stopped doing anything, that’s when people started singing our praises. That’s when we started getting royalty checks. It’s hard not to take it a little personally, but that’s how it was.

The Clientele
Photo: Andy Willsher / Pitch Perfect PR

Can I take a step back? When you say idea, is that idea musical, or is it lyrical? Do you find that ideas come in a certain way so they’re easily identifiable? Could you say more about that?

It’s a hard thing to explain because it’s like pinning butterflies to pieces of cards. But the music and the lyrics, they echo each other, you know. I don’t even really think of them as different things. So, for me, usually, the starting point would be an image or a pattern, an idea that’s of music that evokes a color or an image. And you always know with those the good ones from the bad ones. It’s obvious. I can’t explain it, but it’s obvious. You take that first image that works, and you find music that echoes that image in some way or embodies it. Then the lyrics also do the same. They echo and embody the music. Maybe you have a verse or a middle eight. Then it’s wait until the process happens again when you can add the next piece of the puzzle. The next kind of tessera in the mosaic if you like. That’s how I write.

People talk about synesthesia. Like, seeing colors and shapes when they hear music. I definitely have that, but it’s more like a sense of depth. It’s a sense of something leading into the background and a sense of space. That means you can breathe in the music. You know when it’s there, and you know when it’s not. As I get older, I’m much better at not thinking that every idea I have is good. It’s about choosing the ideas that actually work and have some kind of weight to them.

Not to dwell on this too much, but when you say an image, does that mean a memory, or can it be something you haven’t experienced? One reason I ask is that this album does seem like a memory box. I’m hinging that on the fact that it is based on the passing of your mother. Could you speak a bit more about when you say an image?

It’s a hard question to answer because all images in your mind are probably memories of some kind. At the same time, it could be a mishearing of a conversation. It could be a misreading of a book. It could be something that just jumps into your head when you hear another piece of music. It can come from anywhere, really.

I’ve been reading a lot of really good poets recently. I’ve been reading Paul Éluard, the French surrealist poet, and Tomas Tranströmer, the Swedish poet, and it’s so hard for me not to steal their images, you know. Tranströmer talks about the wind hitting a wooden house and the constellation of nails inside the house becoming evident. And you think “the constellation of nails”. I wish I’d thought of that! It’s better if I misread it as something different or misremember it, and then I can use it. I don’t want to steal things. So, images can come from anywhere, really.

But I think they are linked to some kind of well of memory. Not to get too precious or pretentious about it, but I know I’m very susceptible to hypnosis. When my partner and I were preparing for our son to be born, we went to a hypnobirthing clinic, where you can learn to self-hypnotize as a woman in order to give birth in a more calm, less stressful way. It didn’t work for her at all. But I was under in seconds, inappropriately, and I was seeing all sorts of very bright images, like on a high summer day. I thought, wow, this is how I write songs. I must be going into some kind of trance. It’s like automatic writing but for music. Later it becomes very controlled and very mediated as it goes into the mix and the actual execution of it. But the idea of it, I think it comes from being in a trance.

When you say trance, do you mean tapping into your unconscious? Or tapping into a different sort of space, a temporal space where you can think from?

I’m not going to sit on this interview and say I’m a hollow reed the Great Almighty breathes these truths through. [laughs] I don’t know. It probably is the subconscious. That would be closest to my belief system. But I don’t know. I don’t think about it because it’s one of those things. The minute you think about it, it runs away into the corner. You can’t find it anymore.

It’s part of the creative process.

Yeah, and it’s fun, you know. It’s a fun thing to do.

Has this been your approach all along? The Clientele have been around since the 1990s. Is this something that’s developed over time, or is this something that you tapped into immediately?

It’s been there since I was a toddler, a tiny kid. I remember my mom would put the vacuum cleaner on, and I would start singing over the top of it. I heard Charlemagne Palestine much later singing in a kind of falsetto voice over big drones and was like, “Hey, that’s my idea!” I think it’s just been there all my life. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more aware of it and maybe more self-conscious of it, but it used to be hangovers. When we were making Suburban Light, the songs were all written with hangovers and that feeling of disassociation. Hangovers poison me now, so I can’t do that.

To be clear, you mean hangovers from alcohol.

Yeah, I mean the morning after drinking too much and then walking around. You see things differently. You’re in more of a trance state, but now it’s more sitting quietly and just watching the same thing for a long time, and you kind of forget who you are. And then sometimes an idea will come.

Can I ask some biographical questions, like where you’re from?

Of course.

Did you go to university? What did you study if you did?

I was born in Scotland. I have an English accent because when I was five, my parents moved down to the suburbs outside London from Aberdeen, where I was born, in the north. The north of Scotland. I went to Edinburgh University. I was 50-50 over whether to try and go to art college or university. I said I was contrary! I went to university, but I spent all my time at the art college there. I was studying English literature, but I didn’t care about any of the books that they wanted us to read, certainly not the modern ones, you know, because the real culture of nastiness in those days there, like Martin Amis nastiness, the Jake and Dinos Chapman nastiness, I hated it so much. I used just to use the university library to look for things that I was interested in rather than for coursework. So, my experience of university was having an incredible library that I could look for whatever I wanted.

That led me to what I consider to be a third way in literature. Not nasty and heartless and nihilistic, like Martin Amis, and not overly florid and sentimental, but about love, with a hard, poetic, gem-like, image-by-image trail. And that was the surrealists. The surrealist writers from the 1920s like André Breton, Paul Éluard, Robert Desnos, and Philippe Soupault – that was what set things. I was like, “Oh, this is how to do it.” This was my tutorial on how to bring the things that were in my head into a kind of congruence on the page. Doesn’t need to make sense. Oh, my God, it doesn’t need to make sense. Thank God, it doesn’t need to make sense! That was what I was thinking in the university library.

Your time at Edinburgh coincided with a period when there were a lot of great Scottish bands. The Jesus and Mary Chain had, of course, been active, though there was also Teenage Fanclub and later Belle and Sebastian. Scotland has had a number of acts that have drawn upon and tried to reinvent the pop canon. What was the music scene in Scotland like at the time? Did that impact you in any particular way?

It was a bit after the Jesus and Mary Chain. I graduated in 1996, 1997. But what I found was, in those days, if you think about the late 1980s, the music of the 1960s was just so out of fashion. It was so neglected, and it sounded so different from what was being made that when we used to listen to old 1960s records, they sounded like they were recorded through stained glass, you know, and nobody cared about them, and nobody wanted to preserve them. Nobody wanted to reissue them. That’s all changed now; it’s like the golden decade of pop music. But people laughed at the Beach Boys in those days, and people laughed at the Beatles, too.

So, when I went to Edinburgh, I was a big fan of 1960s music, and I liked it for that sort of aesthetic oddness that it had, the production, the phrasings of the words, and the lovely feel for harmony that a lot of 1960s music had, which I think came from rhythm guitar players playing chords. Once rhythm guitar players stopped being used, the love of harmony faded. In Edinburgh, I found so many people who felt likewise and made friends with them. And they showed me new things. One week they’d say, “Have you heard of Michael Brown’s Left Banke?” And I’d say, “No.” And they’d play it for me, and I’d think, “Oh my God, this is transcendent music.” So that scene definitely affected me, but it was more about a kind of archaeology than it was about the Scottish bands who were around at the time.

Were you playing at that time, or were you just a listener?

I was playing when I went home because the band I had at the time were from the little town near London where I grew up. I would take back these records and say, “Have you heard this?” I was starting to realize that I was trying to copy people like Ray Davies, I suppose. Then I realized, well, I can use this in my own way. I can take these sounds that seem like sounds everyone’s forgotten, and I can take the surrealist poetry that I like to read and I can put them together. It seemed to work. John Lennon had done it already, instinctively, I think. I wanted to do that. It felt like a good way to express the way I saw things. That’s when I first started seriously writing, probably around 1995.

So, you started seriously when you were at Edinburgh?

Yeah, yeah.

Was there a tipping point when, compositionally, you found you were writing things that were worthwhile recording? Was there a moment of crystallization when you felt you could do this for a career?

I remember writing “We Could Walk Together” in Edinburgh one afternoon, sitting at the bedside. You know the song from Suburban Light?


It’s the first thing the Clientele did. Actually, the first single we did. When I wrote that, I thought, okay, I don’t know if this is as good as the things I’m listening to, but it’s good enough for me not to feel like an idiot if I play it. You know? So that was a turning point for me. The rest of Suburban Light came very quickly after that. I felt much more confident, and confidence helps you become prolific, I think.

Moving to your new album, I Am Not There Anymore, this is an LP that exudes confidence. The theme of this album, correct me if I’m wrong, mostly concerns your mother’s passing.

Yeah, it’s difficult for me to talk about it, but it particularly concerns the before and the after. The sense that after she died, the door closed to me on a lot of places and things that had been there before. It actually happened around the time the first Clientele records were being made. So that has always been a pivotal period for me. The summer of 1997 and all the ways of feeling and seeing I had were very much sharpened at that time, almost unbearably, and the memory has stayed with me forever and ever of those particular few weeks, never mind months or years. This album is an exorcism for me, in a way. It’s more personal than anything I’ve done before, and I’m talking more personally in interviews about it. It’s a way of just putting it on record and moving on, I suppose, and hopefully creating something beautiful in the process.

It’s definitely beautiful. It’s an incredible recording in terms of its length, but also within its length, tracks, and different layers to it. I’m still wrapping my mind around it. In truth, it’s the kind of album that you hear, and, as a writer, it’s hard to imagine doing justice to the music. You want to tell the listener, “Just go and listen to the album.” I can only marginally supplement what’s going on in it. I don’t know if you’ve ever confronted that kind of situation.

I would blush to say this about my own music, but that’s what makes music so beautiful, isn’t it? That it can express those things that you can’t really put into a sentence, you know?

There are certain kinds of music, like ambient music, that supersede one’s capacity to describe verbally. It’s so centered on feeling and the subconscious. Like, to me, there’s something very Freudian about the albums of Brian Eno, and that’s the point. They are positioned against the logocentrism of a lot of music, which is one of the things that he tacitly argues: there are things to hear, understand, or grasp that can’t be verbalized or can’t be completely rationalized through words. However, your album, reading through the lyrics, is extremely literate as well. The care that’s taken, not just with the songcraft but also the lyrics, is astonishing. What you were saying earlier about words and music going together makes complete sense in listening to this album.

It’s hard to describe things like music in a way that makes sense. In a way, it’s a good approach not to try and make sense. Or to describe it in terms of a parable or a poem, which can sound ridiculous. But I’ll give you an example. There’s a guy whom I was speaking to the other week, and he’s Scottish, and he was saying, “You know, you don’t sound Scottish, though you’ve got a Scottish name.” So, I was explaining to him my background, and I was telling him about the village where my granny and granddad used to live in the Northern Highlands of Scotland, and he freaked out because he said, “That’s where I go on holiday.” And it’s not a likely holiday destination. It’s not really a touristy place. But he talked about it like I could sit in the front room in the morning and see the quality of the light. And I thought, well, why don’t you write about that, then? And don’t even mention the Clientele.

If you’re a good enough writer, you can make something beautiful from that interaction. Obviously, it’d be a hard sell at a magazine. But maybe there are other ways to express it. There are these coincidences and juxtapositions that I think are really interesting. Really good writing can come out of that. To describe a Brian Eno album, I disagree with the idea that it’s beyond analysis or description in words. I think it can gesture towards some other way of writing, some other expression, you know, that’s equally valid.

I understand what you’re saying. Music obviously does different things, and some music pushes certain boundaries of reason and unreason in ways that challenge paradigms of rational thought. Maybe Brian Eno is too extreme an example, but there are ways in which music doesn’t speak to you directly. It pushes you into a tangential line of thought. In other words, you listen to music not for the content that it’s directly giving you but for the way it directs you into new patterns of thinking.

I think one of the really beautiful things about popular music is that songs and words that are clumsy, words that are badly written in any normal poetic sense, can remind people of when they were young. They suddenly have this strange, mysterious power. They transcend themselves. I think that’s really mysterious and beautiful thing about popular music. It ties in with what you’re saying.

Let me take this further and move into something more concrete, going back to 1997. Was there a set of events that led you back to that period of your life? One could raise the question of why it took so long to think about those issues. I also understand that you’ve become a parent. Has this role also made you think about parenthood and relationships between parents and children. Did this inform the making of this album?

I think there are images on this record that have been on my shoulders for a long, long time, weighing me down. Related to what we were saying earlier about the first song being contrarian, I just wanted to write something honest, and I didn’t really care. I didn’t care if the song seemed odd or lopsided or if they weren’t commercial songs. Going along with that not-really-caring attitude, let the gates open with these very emotional subjects and images of that particular time, which have weighed down my shoulders for a long, long time. Just let some sunlight into the room, you know, and make something with them. Change them by making something with them to escape, you know?

The Clientele
Photo: Andy Willsher / Pitch Perfect PR

Having gone through this process, then, do you feel like you’ve resolved that period for yourself, or are you just in a different place?

No, because I’m talking about it in interviews. It feels unreal. If I’m honest, it feels like it’s not me I’m really talking about. So, I don’t know. I could possibly have played it a bit more cleverly with how I wanted to explain what this record was about. It’s always been really difficult with the Clientele. I’ve had a lot of interviews recently where people have said, “Well, what does this mean?” It makes me really stressed because I feel like saying, “What does it mean to you?” If you bought it and if you like it, then it’s yours, you know? The question of “What does it mean?” is just if you’re puzzled about it, it’s about puzzlement. If it makes you feel poetic, then it’s poetic. But it’s not for me to decide. I don’t want to be responsible for it.

I did notice there are current figures, or at least names, in the lyrics. It makes sense if this album is organized around a particular situation and concept. Maria occurs more than once. Kathleen more than once. There’s also Siobhan. They’re all women. I’m guessing one of them is your mother. Can you discuss this?

Let me think about how I can speak about this. For this record, I wanted everything I knew to be in the record, and I wanted to utilize all the songwriting tricks I knew, for instance. So, there are songs with drones and modal melodies over them. There are songs with a very fussy kind of baroque pop. There are songs with three chords. There are songs with thirty chords, you know? I wanted everything I knew to go on there and be congruent and somehow work. Everything working with everything else. In the same way that I wanted everything I knew about songwriting or songs to go on there, I wanted everyone I knew to be on there, too. All the important people, and they don’t necessarily have their real names because, for God’s sake, why would you do that to them? But the emotions are true. They’re all true, and it’s like an autobiography, but split into fragments and then rearranged and then painted over. Because it’s somehow truer in that way. I think that’s the way memory works. How it works for other people is a different question.

Shifting to another set of questions, were there any particular musicians or albums that you found to be a wellspring for the making of this album, things that resonated with you in particular? This album also has two epigraphs, plus lyrics that draw from Rudyard Kipling and John Berger, as listed in the liner notes. These reference points are really intriguing. Could you say more about that?

Right. Who would want to quote Rudyard Kipling in 2023? But there is an old song at the start of a children’s book of his called Puck of Pook’s Hill [1906], which is called “A Tree Song” and has the line “We’ve been out in the woods all night, a-conjuring summer in.” Because I read lots of old books and kind of waste my time doing that, I found it, and I took that fragment. I can’t imagine myself ever reading Rudyard Kipling again because the last chapter of it is so horrifically anti-Semitic that it just makes you feel disgusted. But there are other people like John Berger. I’d read one of his books ages ago. So sometimes, if there’s a really nice image like it’s now as if the rain is beating on a city in a glass case, I’ll snip that out and keep it. If I use it without changing it, I’ll credit the person who wrote it, like John Berger. But a lot of this stuff just comes randomly from chaotic reading habits and looking in unusual places and trying to be surprised or ambushed by things rather than actually searching for things.

Going further, I don’t know if the lyrics come from any particular poet or book. The eternal inspiration is Rilke, the poet. I love the way Rilke can bracket an image and make an image seem strange but very real at the same time. It’s uncanny. It’s such a huge inspiration and so much easier to answer than the question about musical influences.

The music has a lot more percussive elements than before, and this was through listening a lot to On the Corner [1972] by Miles Davis and some other jazz like Rashied Ali, a great jazz drummer. He played with Coltrane. Listening to Alice Coltrane, too, and Pharoah [Sanders] with his polyrhythmic stuff where it’s very free, but there’s still a pulse going through it. That was a big inspiration. Flamenco music also, which has these rhythmic modes called palos. If you take a professor of music and say, “Okay, notate what that guy’s playing,” his head will explode because there is no pattern to discern. “Dying in May” actually has an Arabic flamenco rhythm; it’s not a Spanish one. And then there’s other stuff like Boards of Canada, whom I love. They’re like wizards to me. They’re my favorite band. I’ve used some of the ideas that I’ve heard on their records around rhythms.

There’s also a lot of new music in Britain that’s being made by young people called trap, which has got a lot of sub-bass in it. Quite often, the sub-bass comes along with sad piano sounds, which is really interesting. I love the production on that. On those records, they’re just so intriguing; what they’re doing is so exciting. I’d hear them playing in the park when I took my son to the park. I would take those sounds in my memory and go back to the computer and, thinking about what they were, try to create or recreate something like them. Of course, there’s all the strange visionary 1960s music, like the 13th Floor Elevators, which I’ve always loved, and Forever Changes by Love. That’s still a fascinating record to me. After 35 years of playing it, it still hasn’t revealed its secrets. It’s an extraordinary record. So, it’s kind of like all those things mashed together musically, really.

So, with the exception of trap, it seems like you’re still working with the same reference points you have in the past.

Yeah, but they’ve been updated and shuffled around. Though I’m not going to the Clientele to try and make a trap record. [laughs]

We’re running out of time, but with plans to tour, I am curious about this kind of album; how would you perform it? It seems to be one of those albums that might lend itself to being played in its entirety, that kind of performance, as opposed to mixing it with other songs.

That’s my main worry at the moment. We’re off to America in August, and we have some shows in London. We should hopefully have some more shows in Europe announced quite soon. How we will present this record live, I really don’t know. We’re working it out in rehearsal rooms and scratching our heads at the moment because a band at our level can’t take a string quartet and a horn section on tour with them. We have to do something creative to change and fill in the gaps. That’s what I want to work now and make our live performance a step away from what we did on the record, which will keep it interesting for me because I don’t like bands who just sound like their records when they play live. That’s just boring as far as I’m concerned.

After the tour, will you be songwriting again? Or are you taking a break?

I’ve got a few new ideas that I’m working on at the moment, and I think they’re okay, but we’ll see. I’m now in the waiting stage. I’m waiting for counter-ideas to join those ideas, and then maybe we’ll have a song in about another six years. [laughs] But creatively, I’m not over. There’s no guarantee about anything else. No guarantee anyone will want to release my records. But creatively, it’s a curse. I can’t get rid of it.

It’s been nice to hear such a positive reaction to the record, and this record seems to be getting that a lot. Which is strange, you know, because I thought it would be a tough nut to crack, really. But people seem to be very positive about it. So, it’s really nice, really gratifying. It’s been made with a lot of love on every level.