It’s weird because we’ve constantly been doing Saint Etienne-related things, but when you put it like that it makes me think, what have we been doing with our time?! We were artists-in-residence at Festival Hall for a year.We sound tracked a kids TV series called Maryoku Yummy which was a lot of fun; that took about a year. We’ve been working on various film projects with Paul Kelly that haven’t got any funding yet! And we did the reissue project, which involved a great deal of delving through old master tapes. I’ve been DJing a bit, andI do a weekly leftfield, chin-stroking internet radio show called The Séance with a mate from my cellar in Brighton.
Tell us about the new album.
We started writing a few songs, and then Bob thought of the idea of making songs about music, and it really grew from there. We wanted to make an album about how music intertwines with your life, and the crossroads you reach; the heady excitement of when you’re young, and how you have to start thinking about making different decisions as you get older. We worked with some really great producers [including Nick Coler, Ian Catt and Richard X].
Is pop music something you grow out of?
I’ve got kids now, and I think that freshens you up and helps you to throw off some of the cynicism, as you start seeing things through their perspective. You listen to the pop music they’re into because you have to, and it’s stuff that you would never have normally listened to yourself, but then you’re like,“oh- I can see why you like this actually!”.
Was it different making an album this time round?
We weren’t together in the studio the whole time, which was different. Technology’s changed so much. Also,when you get older you have to have a different way of working- you know, to slot it in around the child-minding!
Do your kids like the new album?
It might sound sinister, but my nine-year-old son has the CD on repeat every night when he goes to sleep! He’s had it since we first cut it so it’s easing its way into his brain! But apparently this means our music is great to fall asleep to, which is maybe not a great selling point...
Saint Etienne formed in 1990. If you could give yourself then some advice with the knowledge you have now, what would it be?
Buy loads of houses! No.. I mean, there are often things where you think, if we’d have done this, that might have happened, but I wouldn’t change anything.
It sounds naff but one piece of advice I might give someone starting out is that you should stick to your guns. People come along and try and water down your ideas, and it can be hard not to be swayed. When you think of all the great pop acts from when we were teenagers, like Dexy’s Midnight Runners, for example, they were all nutters who had a vision. They didn’t let anyone dilute them. So yeah, that would be my advice. Don’t let your eccentricities be ironed out.
Saint Etienne’s new album Words and Music by Saint Etienne is out now.