We’ve been together for over 20 years and so we’re very natural around each other. We enjoy each other’s company and I think that sense of brotherhood extends to our road crew and our fans – we’re one big family!" Where are your favourite places to play live? And where do you get the best reaction? We’re lucky to have devoted fans all over the UK and so the reaction is consistently amazing. We’re looking forward to London – Shepherd’s Bush Empire is a glorious venue – but, like having children, there are no favourites. We adore travelling together, especially abroad. Exploring new cities is always fun, especially with such good mates. We’ve been together for over 20 years and so we’re very natural around each other. We enjoy each other’s company and I think that sense of brotherhood extends to our road crew and our fans – we’re one big family!
Are there any plans for festivals or further touring in the UK this year? We’re adding festivals all the time. The summer is looking quite busy. Currently there are no plans for another UK tour this year, so anyone thinking of seeing us should get along to the March / April dates. You organise and curate your own Secret Festival where the audience don’t know the line-up until the acts actually walk out on stage on the day. It seems like your fans obviously trust your good taste and your ability to come up with a strong line-up each time? They’ve trusted us so far and we’ve not let them down. We’ve had Starsailor, Zutons, Badly Drawn Boy, Magic Numbers and Feeder among many others. The Secret Festival is brilliant / flawed / brilliantly flawed from the ground up. Essentially, we’re asking people to buy tickets to an event that they have no idea about, with regard to location or whom might be performing. Add to that the unpredictable British weather at the end of August and it’s a small miracle we pulled it off three years running! Will there be further Secret Festivals in the future? The planning stages of it are far beyond what I expected, as a keyboard player. Standing in a field talking about how many portaloos we need, and if there’s such a thing as fireretardant hay bales (there is!) seems rather surreal. It takes many months of planning
and there’s a lot of red tape. I’m sure we’ll return to it down the line but not this year. We’re playing another festival on that same weekend (one that doesn’t require us to perform half a dozen site visits to discuss Health & Safety!). Those of you fortunate enough to secure tickets for “Larks in Transit” have a terrific night out in prospect. Bill’s shows remain so entertaining because, after more than three decades in comedy, Bill is still as passionate about it as ever.
Going back to the early days, how did you all become friends and form Embrace? And do you remember who first came up with the name? Danny and Richard are brothers; Mike our drummer joined them early on; Steve our bass player replaced another bass guitarist; and I was the last to join in 1996. I’m not sure where the name came from, but there was a Washington DC hardcore punk band called Embrace in the late 1980s. Ian MacKaye from the DC Embrace went on to form the amazing and very influential band Fugazi. Danny wrote to Ian and asked if it was OK to use the name and he gave us his blessing. In those early days, could you ever imagine that you would be releasing number one albums and touring throughout the world? We always set our sights high. We were in our early to mid 20s, full of big dreams and a hunger to do everything as big and as well as possible. We all came from working class backgrounds where everything was strived for. We were never scared of hard work, long hours or chasing our dreams so, yes, I think we always thought it possible to have number ones and travel to exciting places like Japan and America. I think now we’re older and still together, we’re able to look back on those days with a beautiful fondness, and a wide eyed “Wow, did we really do all that???” sense of amazement. We’ll never run out of stories to tell, and great things seem to keep on happening. We’re very lucky and we never take anything for granted. How do you feel your influences have changed over the years? And what would you say are your biggest influences at the moment? As a band, we always used to talk about our influences in terms of other musicians and artists that we admire. I think as we’ve grown as a band and as people, we find our
influences coming from other places. Life is way more complicated now because of technology and social media. Just getting out of the house and away from computer screens to enjoy a walk in the park, or a drive in the countryside, or to enjoy listening to some music without a constant distraction is very calming and inspiring, and having a clear head and calm in your life allows creative ideas to get through smoothly and intact. Inspiration can come from anywhere so long as you’re able to see it and take it in. But I doubt it can happen while spending hours each day on a social media platform. There has been a lot of media coverage about artists banning phones from their gigs recently. What are your views on this? I don’t like banning things like that, and I don’t like telling people what to do. However, phones and chatting in concerts is hugely annoying for those who want to listen. And it’s rude to the performers too, particularly if the band are trying to play quietly and create an intimate moment in their show. So rather than banning phones, I’d like to see more signs in venues, reminding people that they are there to enjoy the music and that they have a responsibility to be nice and considerate.
Are there any bands – new or old – that you’re particularly enjoying at the moment? There is so much good stuff around at the moment! We’re spoilt for choice. I recently discovered a band called Ought, who reside in Canada. They remind me a lot of The Fall. The debut Orielles album is sounding fresh, and I recently fell in love with Bon Iver’s 22 A Million album. It’s a work of staggering, beautiful genius and it’s on repeat daily!
And, finally, next year will see the 21st anniversary of your debut album, The Good Will Out, one of your three number one albums; do you have any plans to celebrate that in style? We’re throwing around our ideas of how to commemorate the album. We’re looking into a deluxe box set version with orchestral scores, unseen photos, bonus audio material etc. Plus, a run of gigs too. I’m certain that we and our fans will be celebrating this together in style.