As Chris Urbanowicz, guitarist for the British group Editors (above, second from left,) was stepping out for a bite to eat in the midst of the band’s first North American tour, I caught him for ten minutes of enlightenment.
EC: So first of all, how was South By Southwest?
CU: South by Southwest was a crazy, manic burst, is probably the best way to describe it. I think seeing the bands was the best bit, you know, sort of like, being a punter, going around, hearing lots of music. We were so, so busy, doing so many gigs, so many radio stations, acoustic sessions, interviews … but it was still really fun.
EC: Is there anything like this in England? Are you able to experience the same sort of thing, seeing up and coming bands, in England, or is SXSW kind of ‘it’?
CU: I don’t — I mean, we have something similar in Manchester called In the City, but it’s not really as good. At the same time you have — our thing is the festivals, loads and loads of bands play festivals, so you can go there, check out whoever you want. We’ve got Glastonbury, so that’s kind of like the alternative for us. Instead of doing it in a town, we do it in a big field. Hopefully it doesn’t rain, but it always does.
EC: So having grown up in the U.K., I understand a bit how the radio stations work there, and it seems like now, there’s more of a chance for bands like yours, who are not exactly mainstream, to get serious airplay. How important do you think airplay is to your success?
CU: Well, getting played on the radio — that’s kind of the reason why we took off. There’s a guy called Zane Lowe who does a really influential, kind of alternative, kind of rock 'n' roll show on Radio One, and he basically — we were just about to put our record out, and he was the first person to get involved. We weren’t getting rave reviews from the press, you know, NME wasn’t interested or anything like that, and it was kind of Zane who made our single the Single of the Week, and just loved it, and got us in for a session. It was vital for us. It’s so different in the U.K. than in the U.S. We have kind of independent radio stations, and local stations, but we have stations that are nationwide as well, and we also have, you know, XFM, and 6 Music, and you can pick up London-based stations wherever you are in the country. So yeah, radio play’s very important, of course.
EC: I see on your website that you list a lot of bands that you support and that you’re fans of. How important do you think it is to help out other bands and collaborate with other bands? You’re on a smaller label [Kitchenware], so it seems like you have the independence to collaborate with whomever you want, tour with whomever you want. Is that the case, or is it a lot of sort of being told what to do?
CU: No, no, we’re individuals, we decide things ourselves as well. We’ll send a long list of supporters to our agent, and then they’ll see who’s available, and they’ll come support for us, and it’s a good way to discover new bands. We don’t really help anyone out. The bands that we’ve toured with have done very well out of supporting us as well. I guess, yeah, the bands that have been touring with us don’t really need any help … The Rakes came and did two tours with us, and they’re massive now in the U.K., which is wicked. And there’s a band called ¡Forward Russia!, and, you know, it’s going to happen for them as well. It’s good to support new music, but I think if a band’s really good enough, then they’ll break through anyway. They don’t need our help.
CU: Yeah, I mean, it’s that kind of intensity that’s so difficult to put down on a record, you know, that kind of excitement, and that feeling that you get at a gig that you don’t get when you listen to the song — we want people to come down and have fun. You need to entertain people and they need to go away thinking they’ve had the time of their lives. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t, but you know, you have a go. We just throw ourselves around and throw caution to the wind.
EC: What’s the best show you’ve played in the States so far? Where have you gotten the best reception?
CU: Tell you what, we did a really, really good gig in Detroit last night (April 13). Yeah, that was really cool, and obviously, the New York and L.A. shows were really, really crazy. We kind of — at the same time, we’re just starting out, so I was expecting there to be way more empty rooms, and for it to be less glamorous in the States but it’s still — we’re still getting a decent amount of people in.
EC: What do you do when you’re not touring and not recording? What do you do to relax?
CU: I don’t know, that hasn’t happened for about 18 months. I couldn’t say. The days off that we do get are usually spent, you know, sleeping. I’ve moved out of Birmingham now, and — otherwise, I couldn’t tell you.
EC: I don’t know how the writing is divided between the band, but it seems like there are some common themes on the album, a lot of the lyrics seem to be not necessarily directed at the same person, but the same kind of ideas are there. There is a lot of sort of — guilt, talking about relationships, critiquing relationships. Where does this inspiration come from?
CU: Well, I can’t speak for all the guys. Tom [Smith] writes the lyrics, so that’s where some of the themes come from, I guess, but you know, we’ve held up that our main influences have always been our surroundings. The way that we’re feeling at the time has always influenced the music that we make, and I think that’s quite clear. When we were writing the record there was about — it was two years, and during that time, I was happy, sad, falling in and out of love, and all this, and that’s obviously reflected on the record.
EC: Editors are very busy right now, but what are your plans for the next album?
CU: Yeah, we’ve kind of initially blocked off September and December  to do it, or just to start recording it. If we can get a big portion of it done, maybe all of it done before Christmas, that would be amazing. We’ve got two new songs, and we’re trying to do some more writing, basically, and get some time off. See, this is what happens on the days off. When you get a day off and you’re not doing anything, you kind of feel like you’re wasting your time a little bit, so we’ll probably get into the rehearsal rooms on our days off, and just make some more music together.