10 October 2007 (released)
10 October 2007
Underworld are back with their new album 'Oblivion with Bells’. It may have been five years since their last album, but they’ve been far from lazy in the meantime. Music News caught up with Karl Hyde from Underworld as he prepared for a show in Dublin.
Music News: So Karl, are you pleased to be back on tour?
Karl Hyde: We haven’t really stopped touring to be honest. Last year we were all over Russia and the Baltic states for the first time, as well as America. We really enjoy our time on stage, because we always seem to attract really enthusiastic audiences.
MN: Are you looking forward to playing Dublin?
KH: Definitely. 'King of Snake’ was written on stage in Dublin. We write some of our best material live on stage. Because we record and film every night that we play, we can try all our ideas in front of an audience, which works really well. 'Crocodile’ was tested in front of an audience before we put it on the record. We’ll take our tunes out on to the road in various incarnations. I’ll be improvising lyrics, we’ll be trying out different things, and then Rick goes back over the recording, gauging the response. It’s the way we do our own 'market research’, by listening to the vibe of the crowd.
MN: Where have you had particularly good responses?
KH: We’ve always been lucky with the crowds, right from the beginning. There’s different kind of energy in different places, but generally people just come to celebrate. Last year was the first time we’d played in Russia, and the crowd were just unbelievable. We played in Moscow to 10,000 people, all going ballistic. They went mad in St Petersburg as well. In Buenos Aires we played to a crowd of 80,000 people; we were just: 'Gosh!’ It made us feel really small.
MN: Do you get to explore these amazing places?
KH: We don’t get much time to see the locations, as we’re usually only there for one or two nights. But because we take our studio with us, we tend to be quite busy on the road. We end up producing loads of books and art, we’re really very prolific!
MN: So you don’t really need to come back to the UK to make records?
KH: When we’re back here we record in a pig shed! It’s really a very luxurious pig shed now though. We’re just about to release our first album since '100 Days Off’, and in the meantime we’ve set up our label, released loads of stuff, been really busy!
MN: You’ve been doing a lot of web-based work. How do you think the advent of the internet has affected the music industry?
KH: I think the industry is in such a radical period, it will inevitably need to change to accommodate new moods and perception of music by the youth. It’s an entirely different commodity now than it was in my generation. You either have to accept that, or be left behind. We can release material on the website for free and the crowds already know it when we play it live. It’s part of the energy we get off on, this immediacy. The first time we put something up on the site and we had a comment from a fan in America, we were all 'Wow!’ We’re an underground movement, and this is a part of that.
MN: A bit like the rave scene of the 90s, which you were heavily involved in?
KH: Exactly. The rave scene was more punk than punk. We got the greatest thrill from actually doing the stuff we wanted to, and in the process connecting loads of people.
MN: How did all the film scoring come about?
KH: We’ll it started with Underworld, the Clive Barker film, although Rick and I have always had a passion for music with moving images. We did a bit of commercial work, then Danny [Boyle] asked us to do Trainspotting. This marked the start of a relationship, obviously spanning Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach and most recently Sunshine. We were also extremely pleased to work with Anthony Mingella. He actually asked to work with us, saying he wrote his script listening Underworld. He’s one of the few directors who really likes music and thinks it’s a very important aspect.
MN: Is there a film that inspired your love of the cinema?
KH: 2001 really was the film that really influenced me. I saw it and immediately went and bought the score. It was a seminal moment for me as an 11 year old. Sci-fi films have always had a massive impact on me, and therefore Danny’s brief [for Sunshine] was a dream come true.
MN: What have you got planned for the future?
KH: We’re touring until the end of the year, doing more web stuff, and we’re already looking forward to the festival season. We’re also publishing more books, making more art, focussing on the Net, and possibly curating galleries in Japan. We are also hoping to organise a festival, which would be a collaboration with our friends Cocoon.
MN: How did that come about?
KH: We were taking part in a four hour jam together, one which had an impact on new album. This culminated in Sven [from Cocoon] and ourselves talking about curating a festival, which we’d always liked to do on a modest scale. This will probably be in Germany, as this is where Cocoon are based, but perhaps we could do something in Japan and South America as well.
Oblivion with Bells is released 15 October.