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In Conversation with: Embrace

"'I think the track that we have played throughout all these years and have never got bored of is ‘All You Good Good People’ I think when we wrote that we knew we had something a bit different"

In Conversation with: Embrace

From playing the main stage at Glastonbury to their debut album ‘The Good Will Out’ becoming one of the fastest-ever-selling debut albums by a British artist, Embrace are no strangers to both success and critical acclaim in equal measure and have cemented their place as one of the UK’s most consummate and respected rock bands.

Embrace have been particularly busy of late, preparing for their forthcoming live streamed gig ‘Embrace: Best of (Live From The Cellar Of Dreams) which takes place this Saturday 27th February with the live performance subsequently being released on vinyl.

Intriguingly, the band have thrown out the curation of the set list to the fans who have voted in their droves to have a chance to hear their favourite tracks.

Music Editor Emma Harrison spoke to bassist Steve Firth from the band to find out more.

House of Coco

I am very much looking forward to the live streamed gig which is going to be amazing. It’s your second live streamed gig which follows on from the first one which took place in October 2020.

However, on this occasion, you are allowing the fans to curate the setlist. The voting has now closed. Can you tell me anything about how the set list is shaping up? Or is it all a bit of a secret?

Embrace

There’s a few oddballs that have been asked for in the set list, but not many people have asked for these songs which are B sides. So, there’s some stuff that have never been played or that we haven’t played live in over 20 years.

It’s going to be a very interesting set to be honest, it’s going to be better than what we normally do I think, as it’s easy to play it safe and just do a ‘greatest hits’ package. I think it’s going to be a lot harder than what we normally play as some of the songs are a bit more technical so to say.

House of Coco

Amazing! So, whose idea was it to throw out to the fans and say ‘You have control’. Was this a collaborative decision?

House of Coco

We were thinking of interesting things to do – to keep ourselves busy and to keep fans interested. We wanted to keep ourselves busy and keep working as there’s currently no gigs or festivals planned at this moment in time.

So, we’re just gonna keep trying finding things to do and continue to be quite creative. As a band, we speak all the time. I don’t know if you know about Patreon?

House of Coco

Yeah!  I do! I did an interview with KT Tunstall last autumn and she was really waxing lyrical about Patreon – she swears by it.

Embrace

We started it last summer and one of the good things that we have been doing over the years is filming everything that we do. We discovered hundreds of tapes, a lot of old VHS tapes from back in the day. I have been working my way through them and found some wonderful ten-minute videos of band trips to places like Thailand, footage from Glastonbury and all this sort of stuff.

House of Coco

That’s so cool!

Embrace

The guys are really loving them, and I am loving working my way through them. It’s nice looking back.

House of Coco

It’s a total treasure trove! It’s been almost 24 years now. I think what’s really interesting is the band still has the same line up. That is pretty rare and there are not many examples of other bands who have accomplished the exact same thing.  What’s the secret to the relationship that you have got as a group?

Embrace

It’s worked out. We have never had any fights or any massive fall outs. We are all quite chilled really. We’ve never come to blows; everyone knows their place which is good.

House of Coco

That’s good to know! Are you excited for the gig? It’s on Saturday the 27th of February so not long to go now!

Embrace

Yeah! We are getting stuck into rehearsals. It’s in a studio in Bradford. It’s sat there doing nothing. We are all having Covid tests so we can continue to rehearse together and we are all being really careful. We are also releasing the gig on vinyl as I am such a vinyl addict.

House of Coco

Me too! I got so much vinyl during lockdown – all three of them!

Embrace

It’s all about getting drunk and getting on eBay and buying records!

House of Coco

You have pretty much described my lockdown experience so far! LD1 through to LD3 – drinking a shitload of wine and buying vinyl! 

What vinyl have you buying recently?

Embrace

The new Sleaford Mods album is good.

House of Coco

I love that album – one of my albums of the year so far and we are only in February!

What are you most looking forward to when it comes to the gig? It’s going be a little bit different from a standard Embrace gig as you don’t have the crowd which is great energetically.

How will you approach it? And how can you replicate the energy that you would normally get from the audience without them being there?

Embrace

We’ve done it before and you don’t think that you will get nervous, but when you press play, and it goes out live to the internet – you do get nervous. You don’t want to fuck up and you don’t want to let anyone down. It’s going out live so people can hear if you can mess up. Yeah, there’s pressure on and this performance is going to be recorded so it’s got to be spot on. Plus, it’s a two-hour gig.

House of Coco

I can imagine! So is it just going to be two hours of you performing solidly or will you be chatting and sharing anecdotes from the last 24 years of being in the band as well?

Embrace

Well, last time we chatted a bit but I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. It’s just a shame we can’t have a few beers and relax and share stories.

House of Coco

What do you love most about playing live?

Embrace

I love that it’s the five of us together and that have been together after twenty odd years. I’m proud of us sometimes when we have done a really good gig like at the Millennium Stadium. You think ‘Bloody hell, I never thought I would do that!’.

 


House of Coco

And in terms of your gigs that you have attended? What’s your favourite one that you’ve ever been to? 

Embrace

Oh I don’t know! You think about it afterwards when a band makes it big – you were there at the start. I remember seeing Joy Division and the Buzzcocks back in the day and in my head that has become a bigger thing that what it was. At the time, I liked them but didn’t love them. 

With the history of Joy Division, they are one of my favourite bands. So, in my head, that is one of the best gigs I have ever been to.

House of Coco

It sounds good!

Embrace

I don’t know if you like Pink Floyd?

 

House of Coco

(gets very animated) I love Pink Floyd!

Embrace

I went to see Roger Waters a few years ago at the Manchester Arena and it was the most expensive gig that I had ever been to. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it and it was one of the best things I had seen in my life. I came out thinking ‘that was amazing!’

House of Coco

I was listening to ‘Wish You Were Here’ about half an hour ago.

Embrace

I was just listening to Animals last week.

House of Coco

I love that album! You took part in Tim Burgess Twitter listing party for the album ‘Out Of Nothing last year which coincided with the release of the album on vinyl. How was that because so many are people taking part in the listening party now. Tim has done an amazing job.

Embrace

At first, I thought it was a strange idea but I really really enjoyed it. I thought it was fantastic. You really have to listen to it as you’ve heard the songs a million times before. It’s like you are listening to it for the first time and it was brilliant. I would do it again and again and again! It’s a great idea!

House of Coco

I love it! Are you planning to have another collaboration with Tim on any of the other albums? And if so, which album would you pick?

Embrace

I’d like to do them all to be honest!

House of Coco

Tim would probably be up for it actually.

Embrace

We have met all the Charlatans – they are really nice guys.

House of Coco

He’s such a nice guy and has had some amazing acts on like Paul McCartney. But he’s also championing smaller up and coming bands too, which is great.

So as a band, you have been around since the early 90s. You have released seventh studio albums, one singles album as well as an album of B sides. It’s such a phenomenal collection of work.

The Good Will Out is now almost 24 years old. It has so much critical acclaim but also so much commercial success.

When releasing it did you envisage how successful and how huge it was going to be. I think it’s the one of the fastest selling debut albums by British artists. So, it did brilliantly! 

Embrace

It’s mad, you are talking to American radio, press and all that you don’t really appreciate it at the time. It’s only really so much later down the line that you think ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that!’ And the other thing is when you have had a hit you want the next one to do better. So, when the next one doesn’t do as well you are suddenly disappointed and are like ‘Oh it’s only gone to number ten!’  whereas two years earlier you would have bitten someone’s hand off to have a number ten. You get very used to it very quickly!

House of Coco

Are you planning to release any new material? The last studio album was 2018 wasn’t it? Are you guys writing at the moment or just focusing on the up-and-coming gig?

Embrace

We are all constantly writing. I have about 20 ideas and the others have the same.  We have about enough for two thirds of an album, so if we can get together this year it will be a fantastic opportunity to do another album and get it ready for when we can gig again. We ideally need to be in the studio to get it done.

House of Coco

When it comes to song writing, it seems that you all come up with different ideas. How does that work within the band? It seems like everyone can come to the table with an idea. What’s the process?

Embrace

Most commonly, Danny will come with the melody and then we play around with it for an hour and try and make it into something good. He might have a verse and then we try another two chords, and we add that in and we are trying to build songs that way. We might do 10 of them a day or it might be two weeks without doing this.  We have hundreds of little bits that we sit down with a pad and paper and all vote for our favourite bits and put them into another list.

We got list crazy! Once we have the feeling right, we finish the lyrics but not until the last minute. That’s the way it works best, I think.

House of Coco

Do you have a particular track that you are most proud of? Whether it is your favourite to perform or the most memorable?

Embrace

I think it varies as sometimes it’s nice to give tracks a rest sometimes. I think the track that we have played throughout all these years and have never got bored of is ‘All You Good Good People’ I think when we wrote that we knew we had something a bit different.

We thought we had got something special and that song has stood the test of time.

House of Coco

I love that song! You must have so many memories, it’s going to be so interesting seeing all with this footage.

Embrace

There’s some fantastic stuff such as being on Fox News in America at 7am in the morning talking with the next segment being about two dogs! It’s weird!

It’s stuff that fans are going to be interested in.

House of Coco

Do you have any standout memories that you just think this is what represents my Embrace experience?

Embrace

It was my favourite ever gig but also the most terrifying gig we ever did. Glastonbury main stage we went on before David Bowie and just after the Happy Mondays. I absolutely loved the Happy Mondays and was a massive fan. I could not believe we were playing after them. I loved Bowie too and we were playing before Bowie. All day long I was absolutely shitting bricks!

House of Coco

I bet you were! How do you calm your nerves before a live performance like that?

Embrace

Sometimes before live gigs you are not nervous at all. Other times you can do smaller gigs and be really nervous. It’s hard to control really. It gets easier the more you do it. You get a song out of the way and you totally relax and start enjoying it. I remember that gig and it was televised as well. That adds a whole new dimension you sometimes think your fingers are turning into sausages and you think ‘Shit, why am I doing this?!’

House of Coco

How long have you been playing for?

Embrace

I started playing guitar badly as a 15-year-old and started playing bass in my twenties. I wanted to be in a band and was never going to be a guitar player. I think my fingers are too fat to be honest!

House of Coco

No!

Embrace

Compared to the others, they do it both ways.  I think you gravitate to something and you don’t want it to become too ‘Spinal Tap’

House of Coco

I love Spinal Tap! I rewatched that in lockdown and The Rutles!

Embrace

I was just talking about The Rutles the other day to my friend!



House of Coco

No way! I watch it mainly for Mick Jaggers impressive smirkting (smirking and acting) it’s a thing of beauty!

It’s on YouTube, I will ping you over the link. I might rewatch it again myself.

Is there anything else that you want our readers to know about the gig which is on this Saturday? Other than just buy a ticket?

Embrace

It’s going to be a great show and we are looking forward to it.

Embrace: Best Of (Live From The Cellar Of Dreams) takes place on Saturday 27th February.

Tickets are just £15 and can be purchased here.

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Emma Harrison
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