INTERVIEW WITH ANDY WILLIAMS OF DOVES
AHEAD OF THE RELEASE THEIR FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM ‘THE UNIVERSAL WANT’.
Interview by Jonathan Taylor
After an 11 year artistic break, since the release of their last studio album ‘Kingdom of Rust’, it is with open arms we welcome back the mighty DOVES and the release of their fifth album, ‘The Universal Want’ which is due for release on the 11th September.
From deep within the realms of a global pandemic Doves drummer and song writer Andy Williams joins us for a chat ahead of the album’s release, which got mastered a week before lock down.
The recording of ‘The Universal Want’ began back in 2017 Williams confirmed. “Jez and I went up to the Peak District to work on some ideas that were a possibility of the next Black Rivers record. The place we rented wasn’t that far away from where Jimi lives, so we got in touch and asked him whether he fancied coming up. Just to hang out really. We played him some of the material were we working on and he seemed excited and suggested playing bass on some of the tracks”. It was at that point that the intensions of the sessions shifted in impetus. With the three of them in a room again, Andy explains that they had really missed the dynamic and sense of familiarity. “As two or three tracks were in the making, things felt really good and there was a real buzz in the room. It felt like the right time and it was clear that we had another record in us. There was a real sense of unfinished business”.
The Doves prolonged leave of absence from making music, was not a result of any falling out or ill feeling between members. “During the making of ‘Kingdom of Rust’ for various reasons which involved personal circumstance and to some extent a feeling of pressure to make a record to live up to the expectations and success of the previous albums, followed by constant touring, it was quiet a stressful time, so it seemed like a period of time out was inevitable”.
The album was recorded at different locations and not just in the confines of their own recording studio in Cheshire, which included sessions in the Midlands and spells at Eve Studios in Stockport. “They have a fantastic range of analogue vintage gear which is great to experiment and play with! During recording it is always beneficial to have a change of scenery and switch up in environment. As a band we are quiet slow and methodical in terms of the way we work, so if you are paying for studio time there is the incentive to crack on and be productive”.
‘The Universal Want’ has a wonderful flow and continuity in its running order, where the traditions of the side A and side B mentality is still as prevalent as ever. When asked about the sequencing of the track list and establishing the albums running order, Andy confirmed that he uses the same process for every album. “Once the bunch of album tracks have been short listed, I’ll burn CDs of the tracks in different running orders and go on long drives in my car and also visit places from my youth. I keep switching it around and then send my thoughts to the other band members who are doing a similar thing. After sharing individual thoughts and ideas we all then agree on the ordering”.
The song writing process with Doves has not changed. “It is all still very much a collaborative process” Williams confirmed. “It’s very much like a patch work quilt and there is never pressure on just one person. I am in a band where there are three writers which keeps the content interesting and open to interpretation”. On the use of samples that are prevalent throughout the latest album this time around, “Jimi loves his sampling. He is very much into his hip hop, so samples can be obvious in parts and also discrete. Samples can take you somewhere else and somewhere unexpected and is still is very much part of our culture and something we still get a buzz from”.
During the making of ‘The Universal Want’ Andy recalls there was very much a sense of creative freedom and a lot of live playing during the recording sessions. “It was very much a haphazard process at times where elements and musical sequences were chopped and changed”. When asked if there are any themes that are underpinning the album, Williams explains, “You write for the song with a hope that there is a thread when gathering the songs together. We never really plan the thread but thankfully the songs all lend themselves to each other and hang together and are an umbrella for different themes for the album. It was all about surprising the listener, taking less predictable turns and keeping the listener involved”.
It is clear from chatting to Andy Williams that Doves prolonged leave of absence has been beneficial for all parties concerned. They have returned with an album that is joyous and uplifting, unexpected but familiar. Lyrically it is very much open to interpretation and as always it is beautifully northern in sound. A full album review will follow next week.
Doves – The Universal Want
Released: Fri 11 September 2020 on EMI
Formats: Box Set (incl. Remix LP, Signed Prints, Postcards, Cassette and LP)
Standard Black Vinyl / Indie Stores Exclusive Coloured Vinyl / Fans-Only Coloured Vinyl
CD / Digital