Wire Lexington Supports! New Tune!

First play of Split Your Ends from new album. Plus: read an interview with Graham Lewis! Homepage photograph courtesy of Kenichi Iwasa

As previously reported on tQ, the mighty Wire are playing a five-night stand under our office in London’s Lexington venue to mark the release of their self-titled new LP. We can now reveal that supporting at DRILL:LEXINGTON will be five artists chosen by the Quietus and the members of Wire. These are: Karen Gwyer (April 14), Tomaga (15), Boothroyd (16), Orlando (17) and Xaviers (18). Hit the artist names for links to music and get tickets here.

This is all part of a continuum for Wire. Way back in 2010, the Quietus put on the band supported by Factory Floor and Lonelady at London’s Lexington venue. Back in 2013 there was the first DRILL festival – a series of gigs involving one-off gigs and live collaborations that marked the release of Change Becomes Us. This album was put together by the three remaining original members of the band, Robert Grey, Graham Lewis and Colin Newman, and new guitarist Matt Simms, out of material that would have been on Wire’s third album at the end of the 1970s, and some of which had been collated on their strange 1981 live album Document & Eyewitness.

Now they’re preparing to release new studio album Wire, their 13th album and the first of entirely new material since 2011’s Red Barked Tree. You can hear a stream of new track ‘Split Your Ends’ above and pre-order the album here.

The Quietus caught up with Wire bassist Graham Lewis to discuss the new album, and how it followed on from the unusual Change Becomes Us, the experiment about which he says "we didn’t know if it was going to work or not. It was a project, we wanted to see if we could make it work."

Was it a relief to get back to working on something new?

Graham Lewis: What seemed a very good idea was to write new material and put it on the road immediately. It’s old school, and in that way the theory was that once we were committed to that year of work by the time you get to the end of that year there’s going to be a sizeable part of the next record worked, edited and really tested. I think we started in Chicago, we had a couple of days there and I went out for a beer in a bar and listened to people and wrote ‘Blogging’. I like Chicago, it’s an odd mix of America – it’s hard, it’s industrial, so much important music came through. Hearing people talking and living with technology but at the same time with this Christian background to it all, and at the same time there were these reports that the Pope was blogging. To my fevered atheistic point of view I was thinking how did this compare to how I saw it. That’s when it started to become playful as to… noroomattheinn.com. I started thinking along those lines. I started writing on the road and all of the time observing where we went. It seemed an appropriate place for where we were with the group and how much stronger it had become.

Because Matt [Simms, Wire guitarist since 2010] was more settled in?

GL: Absolutely. The previous tour he’d really won his spurs by then, and it brought something really really strong to the group, and his attitude which was extremely helpful as well. He’s smart, he works in the here and now, he’s not a conceptualist, he’s really hands on and very intuitive. We were playing stuff from Change Becomes Us but also introducing new things all the way along the line. What was very noticeable was that as we went along, in terms of reaction, I don’t think there was much difference between people knowing or not knowing the new songs, and that’s always a great sign.

It’s always good to hear groups playing new material rather than old stuff.

GL: It seemed like the most sensible way forward really and the most interesting. Typically going to the rehearsal room to play a few things, getting comfortable, you can see the boredom setting in about having to play old songs even though they weren’t very old. As soon as we said, ‘Let’s do something new’, everybody was ‘oh’ and that’s where the focus should be. With things that are recorded obviously they’re being played and promoted but obviously they’re in transition as well, and obviously that transition is the transition you’re going towards the future with in the new material, in terms of sound.

I must admit I was expecting the new album to be louder, perhaps more like Send, from how the songs were on the road.

GL: What you say is what I thought, I thought it was going to be more Send-like because live it is, that’s undeniable, but that’s the direction it went in. What isn’t on the album is not there through it being in any way deficient, it really was about points of view as to what everybody thought hung together, and it was a vote I lost. If you don’t have that difference you don’t have a band, you don’t have that discussion. That’s always been the case, whether it’s when Bruce [Gilbert] was around – those discussions have always been there, and they always will be because there are certain things that you’ll never agree on. It’s not possible.

I suppose that must help stop you resting on your laurels and just play the old material. I must admit I’d love to hear another Wire album that had the heaviness of Send though.

GL: Send was about the here and now. It was a very heavily conceptual record. It had to be, in order that we could actually emerge and not be gunned down as lame old gits. It had to be harder than hard, faster than fast.

Like when you supported Toy at DRILL:LONDON, that was probably the heaviest gig I’ve seen you play.

GL: It’s so important isn’t it, that juxtaposition you get. When we toured in Japan and Melt Banana opened for us. Fucking hell. You were standing there going: ‘Time to go to work, there’s no slouching allowed here.’ It’s really not a time not to be good.

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