British art rock group Everything Everything is making a splash on this side of the pond to celebrate their latest album, A Fever Dream. Like their previous LP, Get To Heaven, it is heavily focused on politics, though where Heaven makes broad statements on the state of prejudice and government overreach, A Fever Dream points the lens inward. “All I learned from this was how much I can hate the state we’re in,” sings frontman Jonathan Higgs on “Ivory Tower.”
Thrillcall had the pleasure of interviewing Higgs ahead of their US tour! Read about their take on our toxic political climate, inside details on the making of A Fever Dream, and what they’ve got in store at their live shows! See the full tour itinerary below. Download the Thrillcall app in order to enter to win tickets.
Thrillcall: Experimental genres of pop music have been slowly edging their ways into the mainstream, a style that Everything Everything practically invented. What new music have you been listening to?
Jonathan Higgs: I’m quite fond of Declan McKenna’s album, it has a really enthusiastic youthful vibe that is really important to remember when you’ve been making art for a long time. I think the spirit of artists is the main influence I take, rather than musical elements. I’m always most intrigued when someone is breaking ONE rule in music, rather than an all-out experiment that nobody actually enjoys. Dua Lipa’s New Rules is a good example, the way the chorus drops is incredibly strange but nobody seems to have noticed. Most recently I’ve been listening to Maria Mckee’s “Show Me Heaven” on repeat, I wouldn’t say that is experimental or new in any way sorry.
TC: In interviews surrounding the new LP, A Fever Dream, it seems that the songwriting was more collaborative between the entire band, rather than Jonathan Higgs taking all the glory. How do you normally split up the songwriting process?
JH: The songwriting ‘duties’ have always been shared primarily between me and Alex, though as time has gone on Alex’s role has increased hugely, especially for GTH and AFD. Most of the songs on AFD were written from scratch together, Alex and I in the same room ‘in the moment’, which is a new way for us to work. In the past we’ve created ideas individually then collaborated. Mike and Jeremy’s role is often that of ‘taste-maker’, and we all have ideas about structure, parts, mood, etc. If one of us really feels strongly about a song then we all respect that and either pursue or kill the song. I write all the lyrics, and I think we all agree that is one area that needs to come from one place, though there are always suggestions and preferences within that.
TC: Your music has kept pace with the terror of everyday news, especially on your last two records. How has the political climate changed the band since your Man Alive era?
JH: The political climate has changed completely since Man Alive in 2010, it’s become much more exaggerated and extreme, far more interesting to be honest. Politics feels alive and healthy, rather than the comfortable plumpness I remember from my childhood. Yes there are some scary forces at work but there is a huge awareness and real things to fight for and against. I think division is inevitable in the wake of something like the financial crash of 2008, people turn against each other, against any kind of difference they can find, against authority, and against those at the bottom of society too whenever times are hard or resources are scarce. More than anything I’m more and more aware of how much in politics is a repeat, and how connected everything is – everything is a chain reaction and certain outcomes look inevitable after a while. I don’t think everyone needs to talk about, or sing about politics, and despite the insanity of the moment there still doesn’t seem to be much of a reaction in pop music.
TC: When you were at SXSW two years ago, a venue messed up your name, calling you Anything Anything. In fact, “Everything Everything” seems to be a popular phrase these days. How much confusion has your band’s name caused throughout your career?
JH: We get mistaken for the cell-phone company ‘Everything Everywhere’, who also go by the name EE. This usually takes the form of a complaint about network coverage in their area or whatever, I like to give the most ridiculous advice in response (try sticking the phone up your arse etc). That film [dir. Stella Meghie] that just came out in the same week we released the record was a bit annoying, but movies tend to pass by after a while, and we’ve been around for years.
TC: You have said that some songs are too complex to do justice in a live show. What can fans expect on your upcoming tour?
JH: Our instinct will of course be to play most or all of AFD on our upcoming tour, but we do appreciate people want to hear all sorts from us and we’ll do our best to give everything a shot. Our shows are quite high energy and intense, that’s not going to change anytime soon.