Interview: The Enemy
Published on April 19th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Anthemic Coventry three-piece The Enemy return on 21st May with their third album Streets in the Sky, so Rocksucker caught up with bassist Andy Hopkins for an entertaining phone chat – and one which came to encompass his bandmates Tom Clarke and Liam Watts – just before their show at The Borderline in Soho.
First though, have yourself a simultaneous butcher’s at and earful of “Saturday”, the second single to be taken from the album after February’s free download “Gimme The Sign”…
In as general a way as you like, what can you tell us about the new album?
We feel like it’s the best album we’ve made to date, and we’re so happy with the way it’s been recorded. It got recorded by Joby J. Ford from The Bronx and he got a really raw but fresh sound. It just sounds really good.
What’s Joby like to work with?
He’s absolute quality. He’s a lot like us in the way he works, so it went down pretty fast. He really knows his stuff. We did preproduction, which we’d never done before; we went in, he had a listen to the songs and threw in a few ideas, and if we liked them then we’d use them. It was a really good working relationship.
I personally think that we maybe went a bit too political on the second album. It was a slower album, and we’ve picked the pace back up on this one. There are more sing-along choruses on this one, and I think that’s what The Enemy are about. The vibe on this one is back to where we wanted it. We found a sound that we want. We’re all well happy with it and can’t wait to get the album out, get on tour and show everyone. It’s the most excited we’ve been.
In terms of musical direction, was it something you discussed before going into it, or did it just happen that way?
I think it was in our minds. We’ve had a lot more time to think about this one, whereas with the second album we were in the studio writing the songs. We took a year out, took a step back and looked at the position we were in, got on with our own lives for a bit, then we got back into writing to see what came out.
Is “Gimme The Sign” about a real person or encounter?
(Consults with the others) It’s just about some lad. Some dude. (Laughs)
Fair enough. You were pretty young when you first broke through; do you think that can be a dangerous thing, being thrown into the rock and roll lifestyle so early on?
Well yeah, you can probably get caught up in it. I know what you mean…
Would you say you guys got caught up in it?
Not really. I mean, we were drinking quite a lot but that’s because we were on tour, and we’re going to carry on doing that ’cause it’s a laugh, know what I mean? Well, I don’t know about the other lads; I think Tom might have given up drinking! But yeah, you don’t really think about it when it’s all happening at once. We took the year off, and when you’re back home you think, “Actually, fuck me, I was drinking a lot,” and you try to slow down a bit.
When we first got signed we didn’t know much about the industry, and then in five years we learned everything. We took the last year out so that we’d be going back into it fresh and ready for it, and I think it’s going to be a good year.
Three albums almost qualifies you for elder statesmen status in these fickle times. Do you ever find yourself taking younger bands under your wing, offering advice on this and that?
Not really. This is our third album but we’re still quite a young band so everyone that we see is actually older than us! It’s still a bit mad like that.
Do you guys argue much? If so, how do you tend to resolve it?
Yeah, towards the end of the last campaign we were definitely arguing, disagreeing for no reason and stuff. I think anyone would, a bunch of lads on tour for five years. The way we resolved it was by taking the year out, and then we all had a big fight! (Laughs) No, we just took a year out, because that’s what you’ve got to do; you can’t have a fight and then get back to it, d’you know what I mean? You’ve got to be adults about it.
Did you see each other much during that year out, or did you each do your own thing?
We’ve all got different mates back home so we all got on with our own lives, all bought properties and stuff. I think we all wanted to live at home and have our own space. We started when we were 18, and it’s like you don’t realise you’re getting older, so you all want different things. Touring this time will be different because we do different things during the day. If they don’t want to go out then they don’t have to, whereas before I’d have probably been like, “Come oooonnnn!” or whatever, and the same with them to me.
But you know, we don’t all have to go and get food at the same time, whereas before we were like, “We’ve got to stick together!” because we all wanted to look after each other and stuff like that, but we can look after ourselves now. We all know what the craic is now, so touring’s going to be slightly different this year.
Tom’s spoken out very strongly – and rightly so, in my own personal opinion – against The X Factor, the culture surrounding it and everything that it represents. I was wondering, do you ever come into contact with people from that realm, and if so how do you handle it?
I don’t know what you’re talking about now because I’m not sure what he’s said, but he’s in here, hold on…
(Faintly audible in the background, Tom says: “It’s terrible, innit? It’s monopolised the whole music industry and made it impossible for anyone who isn’t sucking Simon C***ll off to have a hit.”)
Andy: Luckily I am, so…! (Laughs) Is that going to get printed?
Liam says that The X Factor is high-budget karaoke!
Pretty much spot-on, that. You’re the only one who hasn’t offered an opinion on it yet; in the interests of balance, do you have anything good to say about it?
Yes, seriously, as a TV show I can see why people get sucked in by it, but it’s just like…they’re there for one minute, then they’re gone. I mean, what happened to that Matt Cardle geezer? One minute he’d won it, now where the hell is he? I dunno, it’s all just a bit…
(Tom pipes up again in the background)
What did he say?
He said it’s a machine for making money to keep Simon C***ll in Rolls Royces! But it works.
Yes, sadly. It’s pretty much a separate entity from music now.
The thing is, they all release the same song as well. It’s boring.
Have you heard Paul Weller’s new album?
I haven’t, but I heard the single on the radio. I’m not sure about it; there’s a few keyboards on it, and I personally prefer the rawer sound. I prefer him in The Jam. I know the other lads haven’t heard it yet…(evidently Andy is asked what he’s talking about)…Paul Weller’s new album…
(Tom says, “I haven’t heard it yet but I really love [Weller’s 2008 album] 22 Dreams. That’s one of my favourite albums.”)
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
We’ve got a band from Coventry called The Kontours supporting us tonight. I think they’re about 15; Tom saw them soundchecking in a pub and said, “Do you want to support us tonight?” I can’t recommend them until after tonight but I think Tom would probably say they’re alright.
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
Jesus! I hate these questions. Well, I kind of like them, but I don’t know why I don’t just go home and think of five albums. Tell you what, the lads can join in…(relays the question back as five albums, to which Tom suggests albums by The Spice Girls, All Saints and Jedward) Er…any real ones? Although the All Saints album wasn’t bad! I’d go with that.
No, whole back catalogues please!
(In quite possibly the fastest time we’ve had this question answered) Led Zeppelin, Oasis, The Who, The Jam and The Clash.
The Enemy, thank you.
The Enemy’s third album Streets in the Sky will be released on 21st May through Cooking Vinyl. For more information, including a list of live dates and links for pre-ordering the album, please visit www.theenemy.com or The Enemy on Facebook.