How are your feelings? How do you feel? How is it to be back on tour?
Mark: Yeah, still.
Rich: It's been good so far. Two good shows.
Mark: Starting to get better now.
Rich: It's always the first show, is the one, that you're sort of "Oh my dear!", you know? Especially because we've done a lot of new things on stage technologywise and we were a bit concerned, whether it was all going to work. But so far it seems to be okay.
Looking good. How was Copenhagen?
Rich: It was really good actually.
Mark: Very good.
Mark: Yes! Actually we were surprised, as we haven't been to that area for a long, long time. I think the nearest we've been is Lund, which is a few miles away. Yeah, it was good fun.
And Hamburg also?
Rich: Yeah, it was very busy in Hamburg. We know a lot people in Hamburg, got a lot of good friends.
How was the preparation for the tour? Did it go okay?
Mark: Yes, it was a lot of work.
Rich: It was a lot of work, yeah.
Mark: We've done hundreds of hours, really. Redoing the new stuff, so it's different again. Doing the old stuff, again.
New old stuff so to speak.
Rich: You can't keep playing the same versions over and over again, so you know? Obviously we play a lot more now than we did years back, you know? We've done a lot on the musical side, reprogrammed tracks. It's been a big, big job, really.
I had the chance to see the setlist from Hamburg and saw, that you played "Trust You". You haven't played that for a long time, have you?
Rich: No. That's another one of the ones we've reprogrammed and done differently.
So: "Trust You (reworked)".
Rich: We got bored of playing it. I guess it's the same for every band, when you've got a track that everybody loves, you know. You play it and play it and play it and eventually think: "Right, enough is enough. Let's just stop for a while." So we did. Now we put it back in the setlist.
Looking forward to that.
Mark: We've redone the video as well. We're not doing backprojection anymore, we've got screens.
I've read your tweets. You worked all that out, didn't you?
Mark: Yeah, I've done the work, yeah. (laughs) So it's pretty much being here and just the whole show relies on what we've done, which is a bit scary. But so far it's been good. So far it's been good.
That sounds great. How was the time for you after the release of "We Collide" and the things that happened afterwards like Neil leaving the band?
Rich: It was a big shock.
Did you know about that? That he wanted to leave?
Rich: Kind of. I don't think, he was particularly happy with it. And if you would've said to me: "Well, one band member is going to leave. Which one?", I think we both would have said "Neil.", you know? So we both kind of knew. But I think the timing was the thing that disappointed us, because, you know, we had commitments and we have gigs booked and then he just said, he wanted to leave. That left us with a problem. Now, you know, halfway through the tour we kind of have to find something really quick and try and get through it. And we did. It was fine. To be honest, without being kind of awkward to Neil, I think the way the band's together now seems better to me. He's a nice guy, don't get me wrong and we're still friends. Now we have an involvement with Geoff who is more a musician, you know? Neil was never really the musician in the band. That's just Mark and myself that write the songs and do all the studio work. Neil was more like the business man. Admin, meeting people, talk to people.
Also the artwork of the albums.
Mark: Yes, that's a big blow. Because we really love what he has done with the artwork.
But I think you've found a good replacement. I really love the artwork of "A Perfect Solution".
Mark: We got really involved with the whole thing. But it's not our thing, really. Either you're good at it or you're not. We can only say, what we want it to look like. And we've got a great graphic artist to do it. We're very pleased with that.
It also has some kind of continuity. You wouldn't notice a change in the artwork. A little bit maybe.
Rich: We tried this, to get that across to the graphic artist that has done that for us. We said what we kind of liked and the kind of feel we wanted and she's come up with that and it was like, yeah, that's it, that's exactly what we were after. So I think we were lucky, to be honest.
Mark: Even the label, they got kind of the same ideas.
So Neil and you are still friends.
Rich: Yeah, I mean, I saw him recently actually. I went to a concert in Bristol and I was just pushing my way through the crowd and I really bumped into him. That was the first time I've seen him in a while. But we kind of keep in contact.
Have you got any plans for your twentieth anniversary in two years?
Rich + Mark: (laugh) God, no...
Rich: At the moment, we haven't really thought about it.
Mark: Hopefully a new album by then. It's a lot easier now, it seems to be easier for us to write. Yeah, it's a lot quicker. We did most of the album in less than a year. We just kind of messed around really for two years. And in the last year we've pretty much written most, I'd say eighty per-cent of the album, I think.
How is it writing an album, with having fulltime jobs and family?
Rich: Busy. Well I'm self-employed, so I can take time off. If I need time off to do some stuff, well, that's how we manage to do it. It hasn't been too bad.
Mark: And I just work allnight, so. (laughs) You got to.
So you do the relaxing on tour?
Mark: I'm not particularly relaxed now. (laughs) Tomorrow maybe, we got a day off tomorrow. It gets more relaxing, as you do more shows. The first show is... phew... scary.
You had one day in preparation.
Mark: Yeah, we had a production day to get everything working, because we didn't know if the video would work. Because it was all done in my house and I had four little monitors and it was working, but we have fifty inch plasmas to test it on. But luckily, we plugged it in and it worked. Everything worked. But it's a lot of work.
Your way of working; Has it changed from the earlier albums to now? Do you work on the albums differently?
Mark: Yeah, I think I've taken more of a backseat with the music. I mean, we know our strengths now, I think. Rich is quick in the studio and he does a brilliant job. We kind of have less time, but we are better at organizing it. You know, Rich would write something and I would put something to it, instead of us all trying to be in the studio at one time, it's not a great way of working. So if you've got an idea until you get something finished, that you can work on. It doesn't work very well if you're both in the studio trying to write something. It just doesn't work very well.
Rich: We just can't do it. We've tried in the past. You can't sit, write and come up with chords and sort of look at the other person and expect it to come up with a song. Either Mark comes up with a song in a demo, you know, and just gives it to me then I'll reprogram it and do it differently or whatever or I give him a piece of music and he writes to it. But you need one of us to come up with the initial idea, then you can work together.
That was interesting on the bonus DVD from "We Collide" (limited). There you could see Mark coming up with the song and playing it on the guitar. But the finished song would sound totally different when it was finished.
Mark: Yeah, that's the way how we do it. It's nice for me. The hardest thing is coming up with the idea. Once you've got the idea. It's not easy, but it's... You know, where you want to get to. I mean, if you don't know, what you're doing... Write a song, it's not so easy. It's like remixing: You already know, what the finished product sounds like. The remix is not difficult, because you know you want to get from A to B, you just go a different way. You still need that to get to the end.
It's a bit like the Busker's Mix of "Trust You", which is absolutely different.
Mark: Yeah, that's right, because you know, where you want to get to.
How stressing was the time between the end of writing and the release of "A Perfect Solution"?
Rich: It has been pretty much non-stop for the last four months. I mean we, like Mark said, we got the majority of the album done this year and then we got to the end and then they chose the single, the record company chose the single and they asked Olaf Wollschläger to kind of remix it and do something different with it for the single. Of course he's done it. And we wanted him to do the whole album now. So, right, this is going to be another big job. We literally have to take every single track to Olaf and then he works on it. I flew out, because Mark was on holiday, so I flew out and did all the last bit on the album with him. To be honest, it was really hard for me, because I had listened to it so many times and then to go somewhere else and almost start again and you think "Oh, god.", you know? I was thinking "Is it good? Is it bad? I'm not sure now.", you know?
Can you still listen to the songs?
Rich: I listened to it for the first time last week. The first time I listened to the album since it has been completed. Because I couldn't listen to it.
Rich: Yes, it was just too much. Just step away from it and then come back. You know, straight after the album was done, we went into the preparation for the tour, promotion and we've had so many interviews to do. I mean, it's easy, face to face interviews are easy, but when you get twenty email interviews to go through... It's just been relentless really for the last months.
Is "A Perfect Solution" for you a step back to the roots like "The Point At Which It Falls Apart" or "In This Place Forever"?
Rich: Yeah, I think that is what we kind of in a way tried to do. I think with "We Collide" we ended up, the more I listened to it, the more I kind of thought it was a bit too kind of "poppy", a bit too commercial. I mean, that may be a good thing, I don't know. When we started writing this album, I think, it just grew out of taking it to be back how we used to be and just a little bit darker. That's what we're comfortable with, I think, what we like doing. So...
I thought a lot about "We Collide" and, like you say, whether it was too poppy. Okay, you got airplay, I think the maximum airplay you've had so far. But it is also a mesh album. A bit different maybe, but still with that meshy feel, if you like.
Rich: It's a lot of compromises. Well, we were never sorry about then, and it always was, you know, but I think with Neil's influence, he was very much into dance music, maybe more into pop music. So when you're writing, you try to keep everybody happy, you know? With the absence of Neil now, I think we just do what we like and we're pretty much in the same kind of area of what we like.
Same state of mind, so to speak.
Rich: Yeah, I give something to Mark and he likes it and vice versa, so we don't really have to change it much.
In the last three years between "We Collide" and "A Perfect Solution": Has the music market changed again from your point of view, for example: Sales?
Mark: Sales are down with media. CDs. But then you've got downloads. Because it's released in America for the first time, really, on a label rather than under license. We noticed a lot of, the record company told us, that there've been a lot of downloads. A lot of downloads.
I think America is a big market. For example, VNV Nation are really successful there at the moment. Maybe your sales will increase also.
Mark: Yeah, I don't see why not. We need to find time to go there, really. That's the biggest problem. Because you can't go for a weekend, you can't go for a week. You need two, three, four weeks to make any progress at all.
That would be hard for you, wouldn't it?
Mark: Well, if the money's there, it's not such a problem. It's not so easy, we need to get contacts, you know? Now that we've got a label there, it might be easier. It's not like gigging in Europe, it's a lot more difficult. See, they don't really have the locations for it really. The first time we went, we had a modern PA, which was on one side of the stage. It's that kind of thing. You have to get over the technical side of it. It's not like this.
Rich: It's completely different. I mean, the guys we've got supporting us, Informatik from America, they can't believe it, coming over here, how organized ít is. They say: "Back in the U.S., it's terrible!" We say: "Yes, we know – we've been there." We've done it a little bit. I think that's the problem.
Mark: The economy is not that good as well. It's not a great time.
So it's rather risky, isn't it?
Mark: We have spoken to a couple of guys. Same goes for Apop(tygma Berzerk). And they say, it's not brilliant over there at the moment. It's a difficult time to go, if you're thinking about going now. But it's getting better. Slowly. But you know, there's still a lot to do in Europe. You know, we play on tour just basically Germany. There's plenty of other places to go.
France, Spain, Greece, you've got quite a fan base there, haven't you?
Rich: I think Greece, yeah, well, it's a really bizarre thing. The last album went straight into the charts.
Mark: We've got a label in Russia as well now. That's kind of an emerging market. It's just finding the time. If you can make it pay, with a sort of guarantee, then you can do it, then it's easier. You can take the time off, you can take unpaid leave or whatever. We can do that. We're flexible. It's easy as well, it's the two of us. It's not so much of a problem. You don't have three people to take time off, it's just two.
And you've got Sean and Geoff.
Mark: Yeah, they pretty much enjoy it. You know, they have fun. They're great company.
What about another DVD? I read an interview with you the other day...
Rich: What did I say? (both laugh)
...that it would become normal, to release a DVD after a tour.
Rich: Well, I think that everybody expects it now. You have album, tour... or single, album, tour, DVD. We'll come around with cameras and bits and pieces, whether it will happen quickly, I don't know. As long as we get enough footage and make it interesting enough. We enjoyed making the last one. It was quite an experience for us.
Mark: It won't be on this leg of the tour, but I think, we'll do another leg and then it'll be easier. At the moment, we're making too many mistakes. You won't really notice, but we noticed... It has nothing to do with technology, it has to do with our brains, really...
Rich: ...and no playing abilities... (both laugh)
Mark: You can go through the whole show and not make a mistake, but you're always on the edge of. You know, you're still not quite there yet. But I think tonight will be okay.
Do you know all of your texts yet?
Mark: Pretty much, yeah, pretty much. I had a couple of moments last night (laughs) but that's okay.
We will sing.
Mark: I did that last night for one bit and I got away with it. They knew every line.
Interesting moment, isn't it?
Mark: Well, yeah, it knocks down your confidence a little bit.
What are your favourite songs on "A Perfect Solution"?
Rich: For me, "Want You" I think. It has got a cool groove to it and although it's kind of very melancholic and slowish it has got a massive chorus. And I love playing it as well.
I figure, you are playing the whole album live, aren't you?
Mark: Except for "It's Gone". We might play it later on. We can play it kind of live, we might do that. We need to work it out, really. It's a bit of different production on that one. We need to rework it "live", we haven't done that. We need to work it out, really. Because Olaf had a little bit more to do with that one. Because it was a last minute thing. We put that one in...
...instead of "Shattered Glass"...
Mark: Yeah, "Shattered Glass". We took it off the album as a B-side and then we used that. And the production that we had on the original version was completely different, since it was something I did at home and instead of going to our studio it went straight to him because we needed another thing. And I said "Look, just do what you wanna do on it.". And then Rich went over and we changed around. So it's just a little bit of a test really, to see if we could do it. Sometimes it's easier to get somebody else to arrange it for you and then you go over. It has come out well. It is interesting to hear the two versions, really.
What are your favourites from all of your albums?
Mark: "Leave You Nothing", I love that. Another track, I love "Four Walls" as well. That's the one I love the lyrics to the most, I think. You know it's not the lyrics, it's kind of how you remember it.
Rich: It's difficult, really. As Mark said, it's more the memories of writing the songs, more than it is the songs for me. A lot of things brings back the memories of being in the studio or doing something. I intend to focus on the newer stuff, as most bands do and I'm really pleased with this album.
Mark: "Hold And Restrain" is my favourite. It came out really well and we're pretty pleased with it. Productionwise superb, it sounds fantastic. So we need to get it out, you know, in a digital form, really.
Rich: We spoke to the record company and we mentioned this. So I think they're going to try and sort out and it's going to be available on iTunes or such kind of thing.
Mark: We might do it, I'd like to: Identify a certain word within the booklet and we send you a code where you can download it. Because, we're not going to release it as a single or anything. It's already there. People probably can download it, somebody has taken it off the vinyl and posted it somewhere, so...
Looking very much forward to that. That's it - thank you for taking your time.