Editors | Working Class Rock

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With a rich layered sound complete with a gutsy lead vocal, consistent rhythm and the right amount of blaring guitar, Editors are compared to legendary acts such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, U2 and current trend rockers such as Interpol, Arcade Fire and Franz Ferdinand.

 

 

I first heard Editors a few years back while streaming XFM to get through the work day. The song was “Munich,” a single off the debut album The Back Room. It’s hard to forget Tom Smith’s voice-distinctive, sinister and somewhat sneering, but at the same time fragile and filled with longing.

Then, last year, as I was trudging through Lollapalooza, I heard that voice again. I made my way to the small stage and there, from whence they came, were Editors, a seemingly stereotypical British quintet, but with a live sound so big it earned them immediate respect.

This fall, I returned to Chicago to sit down with the band and catch their sixth stop on their North American tour at the Park West. I hoped that the songs off the newest disc, An End Has a Start, would come across on stage and recapture some of the excitement that was in the air last summer. I was not disappointed. And why should I be? This is a band that has earned a dedicated fan base, according to bassist Russell Leetch, by touring, touring, touring.

“We got to do lots and lots of touring before we started to get into people’s heads,” says Leetch. “That’s how we did it in the U.K. It was just by touring. It’s nice to come over and play venues like this.”

prof_editors2.jpgWhile supporting 2005’s The Back Room, the Editors were regulars on the festival scene. In 2006, they performed at high-profile events including Coachella, Lollapalooza and Glastonbury. Now, back in the U.S., the band is confident that the way to America’s heart is consistent performances and extensive touring.

“I think American audiences do appreciate a band that can play, I really do. There are a lot of bands in the U.K. who are grabbing headlines and doing well but they just can’t play,” says Smith. “I think American audiences do seem to like the musicianship.”

“People warm to a band who’s obviously meaning it, are visibly into what they’re doing and are passionate about it. If you are seeing someone on stage doing it, it clicks quicker than if you are listening on the CD or record player,” says Leetch. “We love playing live.”

Editors are from Birmingham, England, and met while studying Music Technology at Staffordshire Univeristy. The band is Tom Smith, (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano), Russell Leetch (bass guitar and backing vocals), Chris Urbanowicz (lead guitar and synth) and Ed Lay (drums, percussion and live backing vocals).

With a rich layered sound complete with a gutsy lead vocal, consistent rhythm and the right amount of blaring guitar, Editors are compared to legendary acts such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, U2 and current trend rockers such as Interpol, Arcade Fire and Franz Ferdinand. But the band claims its own heroes.

“The band was born out of a lot of things like the Strokes and Elbow, a band from Manchester. We listened to a lot of REM. We all share a love of Radiohead,” says Smith. “Now, we’ve familiarized ourselves with Echo and become big fans.”

Life on the road has made them fans as well.

“We saw Feist the other day. She’s good. She’s very good,” says Leetch. “We watched like Jamie T at V, he’s from the U.K. and he’s very good. Also, the National, Kings of Leon, Spoon.”

“Ra Ra Riot are a new band that I saw over the summer in England,” says Smith. “They played five shows and I caught the second one, I saw three shows in a row. I was completely blown away by their youthfulness and energy.”

On their first headlining tour of the U.S., Editors have brought along Ra Ra Riot and Biffy Clyro, whom Smith declares the best band in Britain. It seems the Editors are creating a life on the road they want.

“This tour is a complete dream for us,” said Smith. “Biffy Clyro, well, they are the best British rock band in our opinion. For them to say yes to come out and do a few shows here, the first time they’ve come to America…it’s nice—and they’re mates, too.”

Inside the Park West, there were droves and droves of high school hipsters mixed in with Lincoln Park college kids. As the band took the stage, I was reminded of the first time I saw Coldplay and amazed at how such a thick sound could come from that tiny stage. But the audience loved it and between the light show and Smith’s lulling voice, it was on.

During the 90-minute set, the band performed a variety of tracks from The Back Room and 2007’s An End Has a Start. The show was consistent, full of energy and always transitioned effortlessly between songs. Among the best performances were the beautiful and compelling “Smokers Outside a Hospital Door,” “Munich,” “Lights,” “All Sparks,” “Open Your Arms,” “Bullets,” “An End Has a Start,” “The Weight of the World” and “Spiders.”

Before the show, Leetch shared, “I think we’re a great live band. We go out there and we mean it.”

I’ll buy that! | Raymee Holshouser

 

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