Interview with Thomas White at Mudkiss Fanzine

TW: We should trademark that, man! That’s our thing – upbeat, poppy music with this sucker punch of melancholia. I don’t know how else to describe it, but that’s basically every record we’ve ever made.

Here’s some quotes, read the full interview at Mudkiss Fanzine

ANDY: Do you make long term plans for recording or is it a case of you wake up one morning and think, I must give Alex a ring, it’s time to make a new ESP album?

THOMAS: (Laughing) I don’t know what the catalyst for this was, really… I don’t write with anything particular in mind. I write almost constantly, and then things find their way to different projects… some things I won’t play to anyone (Laughing) I had a period of writing that sounded like some of our earlier stuff and I just thought we should do a new ESP record – there’s a lot of people out there who’d love to hear another one. So I had this burst of writing in about 2010 -2011, and then it all just spiralled from there. We went on the Noel Gallagher tour and that generated a bit of interest, we did that little single, ‘A Quick One,’ – the vinyl single – and then we started talking to the label we’re on now – it’s the same guys who produced our first record… so yes, it’s Chris Hughes and Mark Frith, who made the first record with us – they’re now running a label and in fact the guy who signed us to that first label back in the day – Tom Friend – he signed us again, he was working with them, so it’s all the same crew, just ten years on, which is a bit weird.

ANDY: Although there’s a real mixture of moods on the new album, it’s much lighter than your earlier material, particularly musically.

THOMAS: Yeah, I think it is… in the nicest possible way I think we put a lot of thought into who likes the band, what they like about us and what our strengths are… there was a lot of deconstructing what’s been successful about what we do in the past and why, and then applying all that to a new record but I kinda say that in inverted commas, ‘cos it’s not like we’re pandering to an audience or something, it doesn’t feel like that. We’ve been around for so long we can genuinely look back now and take stock of things, and reappraise why certain things worked and why others didn’t. I think our strengths are the vocals and the harmony and, like you say, that kinda lightness… I think we’ve possibly buried that a bit in the past, undermined it with interesting production or whatever. For this record we definitely wanted to strip all that back and just make a light pop record, a very Summery record you know.

I think a lot of this record is realising that, as a band, we don’t need to shy away from what was appealing about us in the first place and that’s something we have shied away from in the past. I think we’re now in a place where we’re a bit more accepting of all of that, and just a little bit more at peace with what people like about us… you get that with a lot of bands – they’re tarred with a particular brush. I don’t mean that in a negative way, they’re just labelled as something and they spend their entire careers trying to outrun those comparisons… I think we’ve finally got to a place where we’ve just thought, fuck it, if people like us for that, we’ll be that pop group people want us to be, you know?

ANDY: There’s a couple of the tracks on the album which refer directly to the personal loss you experienced, are they difficult to write with the obvious emotion that surrounds them?

THOMAS: It’s very hard to de-construct, so I guess the songs are some way of me trying to make sense of it all… they say grief takes, what, three years or something for you to really get through? Still, not a day goes by I don’t think about it… I think anyone who even attempts to write about that kind of stuff is still just trying to make sense of it for themselves. You never get to a point where you go, “right, death, I’ve nailed it (laughing) here’s the blue print for how to deal with it”. The songs are just me beavering away through those emotions or whatever. You say the record’s a light record, but wouldn’t it be a waste to process all that stuff and for the finished record to just come out sounding maudlin. It seemed right that if we were going to pay tribute to someone, or reflect on all that’s happened, then we should do it in a positive way – make something out of it rather than just wallowing.

I think it’s how you choose to tackle it, and I thought for us… I feel like there’s very, very reflective moments on the record, very personal stuff. Yet as a picture, the whole record’s quite light, it’s all very positive, despite the subject.

ANDY: Again, that’s one of the key factors – the melancholic feel comes across without going too dark.

THOMAS: We should trademark that, man! That’s our thing – upbeat, poppy music with this sucker punch of melancholia. I don’t know how else to describe it, but that’s basically every record we’ve ever made (Laughing)

We both want to do another ESP record pretty quick though, definitely within the next year or so, make that a more regular thing. We can’t wait six years – it’s just not sustainable if you do it once every six years (Laughing)