For some reason, I actually really enjoy the fact that all the best and most authentic contemporary Americana artists seem to be from Europe… Helping to make my case more than any other act in 2013 is Brighton’s The Leisure Society, who are set to release their third LP, Alone Aboard the Ark, on Full Time Hobby on July 2nd (I’ve had it for months and, trust me, it’s fucking good.) Ray Davies personally invited the band to record the album in his very own Konk Studios (Brian Eno is also apparently quite a fan.) The album blends traditional folk and chamber pop, delivering an organically quirky and playful take on some of the heavier, headier, and most personal aspects of the human experience. It’s content should be a bit of a downer but, like Belle & Sebastian, The Leisure Society don’t so much dwell on tragedy, but let you know if that you’re the kind of person who regularly experiences existential tragedies that it’s only because you’re an advanced-breed of wise individuals… and you’re in good company. I recently got a chance to catch up with founder Nick Hemming, who told me about how their most recent sound came about and what you can expect of The Leisure Society in the rest of 2013.
Izzy Cihak: You are about to release Alone Aboard the Ark, your third LP. How does the album compare to previous releases?
Nick Hemming: I think it’s a real step up from the first two albums, but it still retains elements of the TLS sound we’ve established. I’ve always been quite eclectic with my music tastes and I think we’ve really pushed that on this album. There are elements of Jazz, Folk, Pop, as well as full-on Rock songs.
IC: What were the album’s biggest influences and inspirations, whether musical or otherwise?
NH: We recorded in Konk studios, which had a massive impact on the sound of the album. We had access to equipment that we’d never used before: vintage microphones, Mellotrons, 80s synths, and also a sound engineer who actually knew what he was doing! Lyrically speaking, I was reading a lot of Sylvia Plath and Philip Larkin – although most of the songs are very personal and draw directly on my own experiences.
IC: Do you have a particular favorite track, or a track that you feel best represents your current musical mindset? I’m especially fond of “Fight for Everyone” and “We Go Together.”
NH: My personal favorite is “We Go Together.” It’s rare for me to be completely happy with anything we record, but that track is my proudest moment. It’s basically about a summer romance, one that’s unlikely to go the distance, but is great fun while it lasts. I love the lazy, sultry feel of the arrangement and the warmth of the recording – I think it perfectly complements the lyric.
IC: What are your most substantial plans and hopes for the rest of 2013?
NH: I think the rest of 2013 will be all about Alone Aboard the Ark. We’ve put so much into this record that we want to make sure it reaches as many people as possible.
IC: I understand that you’re planning a US tour later this year. What can be expected of the live experience?
NH: We always want the live show to be a joyous experience. There are gentle, melancholy moments when we play songs like “We Were Wasted” and “The Last of the Melting Snow,” but we ultimately want to get people dancing and clapping along. We haven’t had any crowd surfers yet, but I live in hope! 😉