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Cutting-room dancefloor

>> Editors discuss “dark disco,” ponder the pros and cons of looking like Pete Doherty and preview their Mercury Prize concession speech

 

by LORRAINE CARPENTER

“It’s more important that we got nominated,” says Editors guitarist Chris Urbanowicz. “I’d rather Richard Hawley won, or Guillemots—actually, I’m convinced that Guillemots are gonna win it.”

Although Editors aren’t exactly household names in the U.K., the considerable success of their debut LP, The Back Room, is enough to humble Urbanowicz into rooting for relative underdogs on the recently revealed shortlist for the U.K.’s prestigious annual Mercury Prize, which also includes fat cats like Thom Yorke and Arctic Monkeys.

That Editors recently lost an NME prize to Arctic Monkeys is of little concern to the Birmingham quartet, who’ve garnered their fair share of media coverage and chart success, an especially impressive feat for an act signed to a little known indie label, Kitchenware. That they’ve been embraced by critics is less surprising in light of their tastefully nostalgic sound, harkening back to the days of Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division and Chameleons in a way that doesn’t infringe on any copyrights.

The term “dark disco” has been used to describe their groove-inflected post-punk sound, which doesn’t delve as deeply into the dance realm as the U.S.’s punk-funk acts do, but seems to be attracting techno converts anyway.

“At the moment, rock ’n’ roll is the trendier popular music in the U.K., so I think a lot of people are crossing over,” says Urbanowicz, who recently played a rock festival in Ibiza of all places. “Groove” has always been a part of Editors’ playbook, as far back as their first incarnation, Pilot—they were also briefly called the Pride, then Snowfield, then finally Editors, because it looked good on paper—but producer Jim Abbott (Björk, DJ Shadow, Ladytron, Kasabian etc.) helped make their atmospheric rock mesh with the beats. Ultimately, the Editors sound, which is as heavily influenced by early REM as it is by Joy Division, is reflective of all the music scenes that Urbanowicz tapped into as a teenager.

“I was 13, 14 when Britpop kicked off, and in the U.K. that was such a culturally massive thing. But I got a bit of stick for being into American rock and Britpop at the same time. My clothing suffered as well,” he says. “I listened to rock ’n’ roll until I was about 16, 17 and then I started getting into dance music and stopped listening to guitar music altogether for about four or five years.”

These days, Urbanowicz is less concerned with attaching himself to music scenes than with detaching himself from Pete Doherty, the drug-addled star of Libertines/

Babyshambles/tabloid fame. Apparently Urbanowicz is Doherty’s doppelganger.

“It’s quite embarrassing. I took it as an insult at first ’cause I thought he was a bit of a weird-looking chap,” says Urbanowicz, adding that he’s rarely mistaken for Doherty, even though he hangs out regularly with ex-Libertines frontman Carl Barat. But there was that one time…

“It was after a gig. I was really sweaty, and I went to a trendy bar in London and these two girls said, ‘Oh, you’re doing so well, you look so healthy!’, and it took me ages to catch on. But it was funny, so I played along.”

With Lake Trout at la Tulipe on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 9 p.m., $15.50

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