Glaswegian band's Simon Ward talks about the making of their new album
Before the band’s representative gets a say, a word about Errors’ new album Lease of Life; it’s excellent. Not just by the standard of a group who have proven to be consistent sonic adventurers over their three full albums to date, but in the way it fuses everything they’ve done before into something irresistible and fresh. They combine warm club beats reminiscent of early house music and classic German electronica with lush, mantra-like vocals (most, but not all, belonging to singer Steev Livingstone) and an acute sense of how pop songwriting works.
‘It took a long time to come together,’ says Simon Ward, part of the Glasgow-based trio alongside Livingstone and James Hamilton, following the departure of Greg Paterson after the last album Have Some Faith in Magic came out in 2012. ‘I think we wanted a bit of a rest after having done so much previously, and we also wanted a bit of time to figure out how we could do things differently. In some respects it sounds like a different band, which I love, but I hope it sits well with people who know what we’ve done befor
The release of Have Some Faith in Magic was followed quickly by the mini-album New Relics, which itself sounded like a departure in the direction of the freshness and urgency of Lease of Life. ‘We discussed at the time that it sounded different, but I don’t know how much that fed into what came after,’ says Ward. Paterson’s amicable departure wasn’t an influence here, he explains, because he had no songwriting input on the previous record, ‘but our perspective changed on how we played live when he went. We had to work out what our roles were all over again, and go back and figure out how to play the old songs. I enjoyed it.’
Lease of Life was born on the Isle of Jura at the end of 2013, a cottage in a remote location where Ward and Livingstone could get away from everything and focus on writing – separately, as it happens, and then letting one another hear what they were working on. They then returned to Glasgow and recorded the album in Ward’s home studio by the end of summer 2014.
‘There’s also a choir on the last track (‘Through the Knowledge of Those Who Observe Us’),’ says Ward. ‘That was fun, we’ve never recorded a choir before. We did it in the Langside Hall with the Glad Community Choir, it was a good experience. Before that it was just twenty versions of Steev’s voice, and I think one’s enough to be honest (he laughs here, it must be pointed out). It seemed like the natural thing to do to sort that song out, so we did it.’
He says that Livingstone would love to try out the song on the live stage with the full choir just once, but Ward doesn’t reckon his nerves would be up to it. ‘It makes me think of the Polyphonic Spree, which puts me off. I don’t know how that many people onstage would work.’
Livingstone has also relinquished other voice parts to Cecilia Stamp (Paterson’s girlfriend, as it turns out) and Bek Oliva of the group Magic Eye, and the different vocal textures bring more that’s new and distinctive to Errors’ sound. ‘I thought with the addition of these vocals over what we do, it might end up sounding quite poppy,’ he says. It would sound better in a club than on the radio, a lot of it at least. ‘A few of the beats are quite banging, but that’s no different to what we’ve previously done. Although Have Some Faith in Magic less so, it was more of a melodic record.’
In this sense, he believes, the album perhaps harks back to what Errors did when they were first starting out, although that downplays the real sense of progression to be found in this album. It’s a step forwards, a work which should build on listeners’ expectations of what they can do – the kind of album which deserves to give them a much-deserved breakthrough.