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Athlete have some dedicated fans
By contributor Scott Goodacre
Scott Goodacre chatted to Athlete ahead of their gig in Newcastle in October 2007.
Following the massive success of their last album, Tourist, Athlete are back with a bigger and bolder sound this time around.
Despite only reaching number five in the album charts, Beyond The Neighbourhood sounds like a band at the top of their game – with a sound that just seemed destined to pack out the Carling Academy on a cold October night.
They didn't quite manage it, just, but the crowd were in good voice to make up for the empty spaces.
I caught up with the guys ahead of the gig to see if the new tour is any different to their previous outings.
How's the new material being received?
Tim: It's going down well, yeah. It's interesting because this record translates better live than the last one – it's got a bit more pace and it's more upbeat. It feels a lot easier for us to put on a gig where things keep moving.
Carey: The gigs feel better than they did when Tourist came out.
Even though Tourist went straight to number 1?
C: Well Wires was just a massive tune, so that was weird. I think it was voted one of the biggest tunes of the year. But this album is just bigger overall.
Athlete played Newcastle Academy
So now with three albums worth of material to choose from do you struggle when it comes to deciding what to play?
C: We argue about it a lot. We've basically got about 20 songs together and then we work out which ones we're going to play. There's probably a core 12 or 13 that you're always going to do – which is nice because afterwards you can change it about a bit.
T: It's like being Chelsea now, because we can leave good songs on the bench.
You said yourselves that Tourist was a much more laid back album than Vehicles And Animals. Did you approach this one any differently?
C: I started to realise that maybe we were quite a difficult band to comprehend because the three albums we've put out all have very different sounds! A lot of the B-sides we put out with Tourist still had the same quirky elements as the stuff that was on the first album – however they just weren't good enough to make it onto the record.
People are saying that this [Beyond The Neighbourhood] is a mix of the other two records and don't really see the melodies and electronic flourishes have always been there since day one. There is a journey from the first to the third, but you kind of have to get the B-sides to really understand it.
Vehicles And Animals was a happy summer album, Tourist was the more laid-back album, and now Beyond The Neighbourhood has a huge arena sound – was that a conscious decision to make? Because I know you did it all in your own studio this time round.
C: Well that was a conscious change – to record it ourselves. The sound change wasn't as much of a conscious change, however we did talk about making songs more guitar-based, and we discussed some of the beats. It wasn't until we started writing that these things started to become exciting.
Where does the name come from (Beyond The Neighbourhood)? That in itself suggests a much bigger sounding album.
C: We were trying to figure out what to call this album because we've always just named them after a song on the album and we didn't really want to do that again. This album is about the world and things that are a little bit more "out there" – so that's where the name came from.
And did recording it in your own studio help?
C: It definitely helped when making the record. Producing a song is something we've done since the beginning. Recording it ourselves is not something we've ever done to a particularly good standard, however as we started doing it more for this album we found that by creating sounds ourselves it was going more places.
There's nobody sitting there saying "I think you should do this". We just record something, spend four or five hours on it, and if it's no good it doesn't matter because we didn't have a timescale to record stuff. I think it was nice not having those constraints, and I definitely think it's made a big influence on the sound of the album.
Have you thought about setting up your own label? Or maybe following Ash and not releasing anything physical?
T: I wouldn't do it the way they've done it. For me I think an album is a journey, and there should be songs on there that aren't singles and shouldn't get on the radio.
C: I don't like how even iTunes lets you download every single song. I think you should either be able to download the singles or the album – and that's it. An album is a piece of art. We argued for days over the order of the songs. We're all fairly strong opinionated people and we had to properly fight it out because it makes a difference to how the album works.
What direction are you taking for the next one then?
C: I wouldn’t be surprised if it's not too dissimilar to this one.
You've had six months – surely you must have thought about it by now?
T: After this tour we'll probably have a couple of weeks at home where we'll come up with a few ideas.
C: I just can’t wait to get back into the studio.
last updated: 08/11/07
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