After your last LP, you announced you were abandoning the album format in favour of standalone singles. Why was that?
It felt like the album format was in terminal decline at that point. We felt like record companies were burying their heads, so we wanted to strike out on our own and work with that trend creatively to figure out a new way of putting music out there.
So, why did you change your mind?
Rumours of the album’s death were somewhat exaggerated.
Is there anything you particularly missed about working within the album format?
It wasn’t so much about missing stuff, it was more a case of that being the way people still consume their music. I think stepping away from the format gave us a clearer picture of what we could do to make a better album. I think we’ve achieved a consistency to this record that we’ve never had before.
In terms of its focus on guitars, rather than electronic sounds, Kablammo! feels closer to Free All Angels than it does your more recent work.
Yeah, it’s a return to the guitar, for sure. The idea was that to justify returning to the format we had to make Kablammo! stand up alongside Free All Angels and 1977, which are our most loved records. I think we achieved that.
What was the goal sonically for the album?
To make a great three-piece record. I think it’s something we’ve always worried about, even going back to our earliest stuff. That’s why we got Charlotte [Hatherley] in, and later Russell Lissack of Bloc Party, who toured with us for a year. Also, post-Chaz we started flirting with more electronic sounds to take up the space. Finally, after 23 years, we feel confident of sounding great with just the core line-up. That’s why we chose to make a guitar album.
What was the starting point for Kablammo? And where was it recorded?
Having worked together for so long now, it must be quite an instinctive process?
Yes, definitely. But it’s always been that way. I think the gut reaction to hearing song ideas is best before you go and ruin it by engaging your brain. Creativity comes from a deeper place than thinking. Saying this, we were nervous and excited when we got back in a room together to start writing. A bit like the first time you have sex.
Maybe because of becoming a dad in 2011, I’m able to process the emotional side of it all better. This was by far the most enjoyable thing I’ve worked on.
Is there any part of the creative process that you deliberately approached differently this time?
We went back to doing quick demos this time. We’d kinda shunned that part on the A-Z stuff, but it helps you get a bit of perspective on what you’re doing.
Lyrically, what themes do you see uniting the tracks on Kablammo? And what’s the significance of the album title?
Freedom and fearlessness; defiance, hope, longing and a bit of good old Tim Wheeler summertime nostalgia. The title was just a fun way of saying, “BANG! Ash are back!” Very comic book. And, again, a very Tim Wheeler word.
Were there any cultural reference points outside of music?
Kickboxing. Is that culture? Tim is obsessed.
What’s your current favourite track on the record?
You’ve been making music together for over two decades now. How have your motivations for making music changed in that time?
Well I guess I do it to feed my kids these days, as opposed to just feeding my booze habit, but aside from that aspect, I’ve always been driven by the excitement of creating stuff. It’s like transforming your innermost feelings – created by sound – into the physical, and then back into sound. It transcends or unites disparate parts of the self. Where did that come from? Have I been spiked?
How has the dynamic within the band changed in that time?
We’ve had our ups and downs career-wise but it just brings us closer. We are brothers.
As a band still boasting their original line-up, you’re a pretty rare proposition in this industry - what’s your secret?
If I knew, it would be a sh*t book in the non-fiction chart at an airport near you.
If you had to offer one piece of advice to young bands starting out now, what would it be?
Buy my sh*t book.
Looking back on your career, do you have any regrets?
I think we could have made better business decisions, but I’ve no complaints about where we are creatively right now, and all those things led us to where we are. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the past.
What have been your highlights?
They’re obviously the two big albums, but I was too drunk to remember them.
What’s the plan for the rest of 2015?
We’re on the verge of the tour right now and I can’t wait. Reading, Fuji Rocks and Isle of Wight Festival will be fun.
And what’s the plan beyond 2015? Is there anything you'd still like to achieve?
There are enough songs left over to release something next year, so we’ll have to decide whether to add to that or release something shorter. As for achievements? Headlining Reading, bothering the singles chart and an erection would be nice.