“I mean, I love R Kelly. And all he does is talk about his dick.” Jonathan Higgs laughs as he explains his musical philosophies. The response was prompted by a self-indulgent inquest into the intricacy, robustness and wit of the band’s song-writing, however my question produced results separate from my expectations.
For a band of such colour and inventiveness, lead singer Higgs almost seemed to downplay the level of care that is clearly put into his song-craft. Asked if modern pop music should feature sophisticated lyrics, the frontman said: “You can’t prescribe art. A caveman whacking a club against a rock has probably moved somebody just as much as the works as Tchaikovsky.” Drummer, Michael Spearman did concede a small amount of pride however: “I’m kind of proud that we are bold enough to go there. But it’s not our place to say if other people should.”
Sat in the band’s elevated cabin of a dressing room in the cramped-yet-colourful suburban venue, unseasonable September warmth filtered into the room. As an avid fan of the Mercury-Prize–nominated four piece, I was keen to get the latest on their new album. Before that though, the aforementioned Higgs and Spearman let me in on the secret to their success: hangovers.
“I think we’re basically always hungover before a performance.” Higgs says. This, coupled with the award-winning Goose IPA, Honkers Ale and 312 Urban Wheat Ale being served at the venue, lead to a quick-fire quizzing of beer interests: “I’ve only just recently dipped my toe into the pale arena, but I do still crave lager sometimes.”
On the new album, both Michael and Jonathan seemed upbeat about its production. After initially making tongue-in-cheek suggestions that it may be a heavy metal record, Higgs explained that it could end up being a more insular experience than their previous record and more akin to their 2010 debut Man Alive. “I think we’re going to have to go back to looking a bit more inwards. Looking outside is a bit too mental at the moment.”
Everything Everything excel at their satirical stabs at current affairs. 2015’s Get to Heaven was an exemplary regurgitation of the various horrors the world faced during the year of 2014. Terrorism, war and the very trajectory of humanity were all tackled across the breadth of the 11-track album. The band notably received attention for the track Zero Pharaoh, which seemed to mirror the rise of Nigel Farage and the UK Independence Party. On that note, I asked songwriter Higgs on Brexit, and how it may affect his creative output.
The frontman nodded his head and jokingly exclaimed “Called it”. It is clear from my perspective that there is a certain desire in Higgs to transmit strong feelings regarding the referendum vote, but he stays as humble as ever. “My account of it isn’t going to be particularly enlightening. It would already match the feelings of 48% of the country. But it will affect this record. Inevitably.”
Given the macabre themes of past records, I was interested to know if the band could ever envisage a thematically optimistic album. Higgs did not seem enthralled by the prospect.
“I couldn’t do a fully positive album for the sake of it. I’m not a very positive person anyway.” He laughs: “Unless you found God or something. But I’ve already dabbled in that. You can’t really pretend to be religious.”
Asking for details of what proved to be a stunning set later that evening in front of an 1,000-strong crowd was an entertaining experience. Spearman and Higgs exchange a glance before gleefully announcing: “It’s gonna be bangers ‘n’ mosh.”
Bangers and mosh, it was indeed.