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Blogging 3:46 // Shifting 3:17 // Burning Bridges 3:17 // In Manchester 2:42 // High 1:52 // Sleep-Walking 7:31 //
Joust & Jostle 2:12 // Swallow 4:17 // Split Your Ends 3:31 // Octopus 3:16 // Harpooned 8:23
As some might have noticed "on the internet", Wire are announcing a new album — simply called WIRE — for release on 13th April [UK] and 21st April [USA].
The album features songs which you may have heard at live shows, along with some brand-new ones.
Here's the press release
Right from their inception in 1976, back in the first stirrings of punk, Wire went about making music in a subversive, conceptual way, setting themselves apart from both their peers and their influences.
“I had this idea that I wanted to avoid things that had a particular kind of tradition,” explains singer and guitarist Colin Newman. “I thought the three-chord trick was too simplistic and that the one-chord trick would be better. Or the two chord trick where the second chord is definitely not the right chord.”
Bass guitarist and vocalist Graham Lewis identifies another trait that has run throughout the group’s lifetime. “People said we were mysterious, arch and dark. But the only way of doing that successfully, is by also having a sense of humour. You have to have that balance. With Wire there’s a peculiarity, a contrariness and that can be funny."
This questing approach has permeated Wire’s songwriting, their onstage presentation, even the decision, back in the 80s, for Robert Grey to strip his drumkit down to just bass drum, snare and hi-hat. And it has served them well in guarding against repetition and cliché. In context, Wire’s last album, 2013’s aptly titled Change Becomes Us was another case of “Expect the unexpected”, as it found them extensively reworking a rich cache of material abandoned amid a temporary break-up in the early 80s.
Their 13th studio album - simply titled Wire – comprises material that was written with the album in mind, but toured extensively first, as well as songs that Newman introduced to the group in the studio just prior to recording. The idea was to get the most spontaneous reaction possible from the musicians, and far from the rough and ready results one might expect from such a tack, Wire is full of swooning pop melodies with a 60s tinge and an irresistible, near motorik rhythmic momentum. One can recognise certain melodic inflections, guitar and bass motifs, and drum rhythms from Wire’s idiosyncratic vocabulary but it has a remarkable freshness.
The basic tracks were recorded at Rockfield Studios near Monmouth, with overdubs added at Brighton Electric last December following the group’s DRILL : BRIGHTON Festival. The 11 tracks selected for release were the ones that came together most naturally.
From the outset Wire was an alliance between four very different characters and continues today with the addition, in 2012, of It Hugs Back guitarist Matthew Simms, who is around thirty years younger than the other group members. “With Matt there was a really new dynamic that had appeared in the group’s sound and that was something we wanted to capture, utilise and be creative with,” says Lewis.
Wire is the first album where Simms has been involved in formulating the material from the ground up, but when the group’s particular chemistry starts working he is now very much part of the process.
“With ‘Sleepwalking’, I don’t think we even ran all the way through it before we recorded it.” Newman says. “Wire do this thing so well and there’s instant atmosphere. There’s my rhythm guitar, Matt playing lap steel, Graham (Lewis) playing bass with effects – there’s as much effects as bass - and Rob’s tolling drumming. It was already almost sustainable for six minutes with just that.”
Lewis also provides most of the lyrics for the album, their subject matter encompassing love songs, cryptic narratives and coded messages. One time, Newman asked Lewis to send over some unfinished, unformatted text so he wouldn’t be bound by what to use for the chorus. This material spawned two songs written on the same day, ‘Split Your Ends’ and the droll ‘In Manchester’. The latter has one of the album’s loveliest melodies, but it’s no coded paean to the city in its Baggy heyday. Instead this process led to the disorientating and rather absurd situation of having “In Manchester” as a soaring chorus, when the song is not about Manchester beyond a single line in the lyric.
As the album progresses, some of the sunlit pop tunes become more shadowy and it ultimately plunges into the musical black hole of ‘Harpooned’, eight churning minutes of the group’s darkest, most abrasive music to date, and a favourite in live performances since 2013.
Big money offers have been made to Wire to become part of the Heritage Rock industry, to get the original line-up back together and play only 70s music. These have all been unequivocally turned down. Fun though that might be, why plant yourself firmly back in the past when you are making new music this potent with the promise of more in the future?
“The point where our personal narratives meet is all about change - moving on and keeping it interesting for ourselves,” says Newman. “We’re in it for the long haul and this is a one-way trip.”
Wire will be launched by the fourth event in the band's DRILL series entitled DRILL : LEXINGTON - five nights (14-18 April) at the Lexington in London with Wire headlining, plus a different "curated" support each night. This will be followed by a UK & US tour. Further dates & events will be announced soon.
Text - MIKE BARNES
As well as DRILL : LEXINGTON (about which more later) we are also announcing a series of dates in the UK & USA:
FEBRUARY 19 - LEICESTER - The Musician
FEBRUARY 20 - WAKEFIELD - Unity
FEBRUARY 22 - NEWCASTLE - Sage (6-Music Festival)
APRIL 12-13 - BRIGHTON - Prince Albert (intimate warm up)
APRIL 14-18 - LONDON – DRILL : LEXINGTON (album launch)
APRIL 20 - SOUTHAMPTON – Engine Rooms
APRIL 21 - RAMSGATE – Music Hall
APRIL 22 - NOTTINGHAM – Rescue Rooms
APRIL 23 - LIVERPOOL – Kazimer
APRIL 24 - HEBDEN BRIDGE – Trades Club
APRIL 26 - ABERDEEN – Lemon Tree
APRIL 27 - GLASGOW – King Tuts
APRIL 28 – LEEDS – Brudenell Social Club
APRIL 29 - MANCHESTER – Club Academy
APRIL 30 - BRISTOL – Fleece
MAY 27 – SEATTLE, WA - Nuemos
MAY 29 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Slim’s
MAY 30 – LOS ANGELES, CA – The Echoplex
JUN 02 – CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Sinclair
JUN 03 – BROOKLYN, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
JUN 04 – NEW YORK, NY – Bowery Ballroom
JUN 05 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – Union Transfer
JUN 06 – WASHINGTON, DC – Black Cat
JUN 08 – CLEVELAND, OH – Beachland Ballroom
JUN 09 – DETROIT, MI – Majestic Theatre
JUN 10 – LOUISVILLE, KY - Headliners
There are ticket links on pinkflag.com. Please also keep an eye out for further announcents regarding live events.
DRILL : LEXINGTON
Can you believe we are already on the fourth incarnation of the DRILL : FESTIVAL? So far we DRILLED in London, Seattle and Brighton, hosting over 150 artists, including Swans, Savages, Toy, Earth, British Sea Power, Courtney Barnett, Youngfathers, Helmet, These New Puritans, and many young, upcoming bands. DRILL : FESTIVAL is, we think, unique in that it has no specific location, timing or format, and so we can encompass multi-venue, wristbanded events like DRILL : BRIGHTON and single venue events like DRILL : LEXINGTON. Presented by WIRE in conjunction with The Quietus & The Lexington (the team that brought you DRILL : LONDON), the concept is Wire headline every night with a different and carefully chosen support that will give each date a different flavour. This harks back to the event which spawned the whole DRILL : FESTIVAL concept: two nights in the Lexington, in November 2010, with Factory Floor and Lonelady. DRILL : LEXINGTON runs from 14-18 April at The Lexington, London.
6- MUSIC FESTIVAL
As well as all this activity in April, May and June, there will be a short burst of live action from the band this month with three UK dates culminating in an appearance at 6Music's festival. The festival appearance will be in the main concourse at the Sage in Gateshead. Tickets are already long ago sold out; however, as Wire are playing on the main stage, we will be filmed for red button and BBC YouTube inclusions. Anyone who knows 6Music will know they make a very big deal of their festival, so expect to hear rather more of Wire on the staion than you are accustomed to! Colin will alo be appearing on their show The First Time with Matt Everitt. The show is broadcast on Sundays but will be recorded in front of a live audience at the festival on Saturday, February 21st.
This newsletter and the website are complementary resources. To keep abreast of Wire and all its doings, we recommend checking Pinkflag.com regularly as well as being signed up to this mailing list.
All the best,