Premier artist interview: Michael Spearman (Everything Everything)
2 July 2015
With their new album 'Get To Heaven' reaching number seven in the album charts and following a triumphant appearance at Glastonbury last week, Everything Everything drummer Michael Spearman talks to us about the album, working with Stuart Price and recording without cymbals.
How do you feel your sound has differed on the new album?
Sonically it's in the same world as our previous albums but where this record differs is in terms of its attitude and energy. To me it feels like it has a lot more colour than the last album and it's more intense in lots of ways too. We're more confident in ourselves than ever and musically, lyrically and sonically we've thrown everything we have at it.
Were there any greater demands technically during the recording process?
Our producer, Stuart Price, produced from LA for the first half of the recording process so at first we were tracking with our engineer and emailing what we were doing to Stuart for his feedback. In some ways that was a bit strange but we really enjoyed the freedom it afforded us as a band. This is our third album so we were able to really use what we've learnt production-wise over the years and Stuart was really encouraging of us experimenting at every stage. I think with most things the technical challenges become advantages as you need to be creative to overcome them.
In terms of drumming there were some tricky bits on this album. The tracks Get To Heaven and Warm Healer both had beats that were conceived originally on laptop and I had to translate them to real drums. At times it was hard to keep the lightness and accuracy that programmed beats have but we got there in the end.
Did Stuart have much input with the drum parts or did he leave you to it?
Stuart's really relaxed and open to ideas so he didn't change too much with the parts themselves. He comes from a background where it's all about the song - which is something we believe too - so the parts should never get in the way. Drum-wise he simplified a couple of things and wanted a couple of electronic things doubled but in general he left me to it. Because he arrived later in the process a lot of the drums had already been tracked so it was more a case of running them past him and making sure he approved. It was a big relief when he did because he's worked with some amazing drummers over the years.
How does your set-up differ in the studio from on the road?
As with our other albums we usually recorded without cymbals so we could get greater separation, and therefore better clarity and punch in the end. While it can be strange to play without cymbals and overdub them afterwards, it's definitely worth it for the end result. Similarly with the drums, if I was recording a kick, snare and hi-hat part we'd often move the toms away from the kit so we could get a cleaner sound. Of course later we can choose to rough it up by mixing in more things like room mics but it's great to start with a clean sheet so that you have the most options further down the line.
Which of the new tracks are you most looking forward to performing live?
To The Blade is fun because it has a wild abandon that we haven't had for a while. For totally different reasons Warm Healer has an intricate beat that's a good challenge to play. Similarly, Zero Pharaoh is fiddly but the trick is to make it sound easy, even when it isn't!
With a busy couple of months touring ahead, how do you prepare for a gig?
It's mainly psychological I think. Ideally you want to be excited to play and a little nervous. If, for whatever reason, I'm not feeling enough of those things then I need to pump myself up a bit by reminding myself that this might be the only time some people in the crowd will see us live and I don't want them thinking we didn't give it our all. If it's the opposite and I'm feeling too nervous then having a bit of time to just be quiet and focus a bit is good I think.
I normally warm-up by playing some rudiments before we go on too, especially if I haven't played that day in soundcheck, which is often the case at festivals where soundchecks are rare.
Finally what’s your favourite tip for drummers?Relax!Everything Everything's new album 'Get To Heaven' is out now - everything-everything.co.uk
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