Almost three years after their debut (‘we prefer to say two and a half’), Director are back with a new album, I’ll Wait For Sound, rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to reconnect with their fanbase.
‘We spent a long time trying to get a release in the UK. At the end of it all, we decided to stop concentrating on that and work on what we wanted to do,’ explains singer Michael Moloney.
‘To keep a band going, you have to keep working, keep moving on new material,’ adds bassist Rowan Averill, ‘so after a while we just felt we had to cut the first album clean and go forward with new stuff.’
Admitting that they probably ‘spent too long’ on promoting the first album, it wasn’t until about a year ago that they started to hone in on the songs that would form the backbone of I’ll Wait For Sound.
‘Often the case is that you have six weeks to write your second album, but in our case we had around two years,’ Michael smiles. ‘There was nobody really beating down our doors except our own….’
‘…running out of money,’ Rowan finishes the sentence with a grin. ‘You always see working in a band of going in stages of writing, recording, gigging, and when you’re stuck on the writing-slash-occasional-gigging for a year and a half, it starts to get frustrating.’
At one point, they had around 25 songs in the mix for their sophomore album, before cutting it down to the 10 that would make the cut. They decamped to Los Angeles last autumn, settling in the City of Angels with producer Brad Wood, whose previous credits include Placebo, Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair.
‘A colleague suggested that America was good value [for recording]: a lot of producers have their own studio and were doing an all-in package. When we recorded here, we needed to hire an engineer, hire a studio etc etc, which was quite expensive. Plus, the exchange rate was pretty favourable at the time, which did help us,’ Rowan admits evenly.
‘I think we liked the idea of going somewhere else, too,’ he continues. ‘We thought a change of scene would be great. It didn’t have to be LA or even America : we were working every day but Sunday for around seven weeks so it’s not like we saw much of LA.’
But at least it was warm, State counters…
‘That did make a big difference, when you wake up in the morning and you’re actually happy that another day is starting,’ Michael smiles.
Having self-produced their debut, Director took a very deliberate decision to have someone else helming the production desk this time around.
‘We learned a lot with the first album and it was a very steep learning curve,’ admits Michael. ‘At that stage, you think you know everything but when you get a little bit older, you realise you don’t. We definitely learned that we could’ve done with a producer but I think we were afraid, on the first album, of someone coming in and changing the way we sound. Maybe we weren’t strong enough in our opinions.’
‘I think every band when they’re starting out has that same fear that some producer is going to make them sound like every other band out there,’ Rowan adds. ‘What we needed on the first album was a producer, not necessarily in terms of our sound but for time management, which was our main problem. We were in a residential studio and were working stupid hours and the engineer working with us was the same: nobody ever said -that’s enough. Let’s get some sleep’.’
‘We were very young at that stage and we were very afraid that someone would come in, and make us sound the same as lots of other bands. Maybe this time around, we’re a little stronger as a band and clearer in what we want to do, so we were happy enough to have someone there who could bring experience to the project without taking it over.’
With I’ll Wait For Sound, the band are no longer signed to Atlantic Records, and are going the independent route, licensing the album out to various territories. While their debut, We Thrive On Big Cities never enjoyed an international release, despite the band’s pretty hectic gigging schedule outside these shores, the new album already has release dates for the UK and Europe.
‘We did play a lot in the UK around the time of the first album,’ Rowan notes. ‘We did that thing where the record company’s first port of call is to get a band on a support tour. We didn’t have a single out and we were going around the UK supporting Hard-Fi. They spent a heap of money on sending us around to these venues without anything to sell.’
‘At the same time, it’s because of that we get messages from people wondering where they can get our first album,’ Michael adds.
Indeed, despite having only played one festival in Spain, Director have been the subject of much blogging on the Iberian peninsula and have been offered numerous return visits – their debut single, -Reconnect’ was picked up by a number of Spanish DJs and radio stations.
‘Now we have a new album and we can pick up on those sort of things,’ Michael explains. ‘It’s something that we can now pursue.’
So they’re now masters of their own destiny?
‘I think every band who leaves a label likes to think of it that way,’ Rowan laughs. ‘But at least we own the new record and we’ve signed licensing deals for outside Ireland.’
In Ireland, the album is being released through Warners, which they’re happy about, ‘because we’re working with the same people we worked with on the first album’.
State couldn’t let them go without picking up on something from their website, where they confess to giving ‘really bad interviews’. Having experienced Director in media mode for the past half hour, we beg to differ.
‘We’ve never been good at interviews,’ Michael laughs. ‘I don’t really mind doing interviews, but I guess I don’t relish them and I’m not very good at them. As a band, we have a lot of problems in that department in that I’m not much for the old charisma or good at interviews or talking to the audience.’
‘We’ve even thought that maybe we should write things out to say at certain points of the gig, but that feels wrong,’ Rowan sighs. ‘I think you just have to go with the flow at gigs and if something comes to you, say it, but the general consensus is that if you’ve got nothing good to say, don’t say anything. And, I’ve always felt that if, say, Interpol were going, -Everybody say ‘Whoa. Hey’,’ it just wouldn’t work.’
So have they got more comfortable with the media?
‘Maybe a little bit,’ Michael grins. ‘People say we should talk more but I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad idea ‘cos we tend to ramble on then. The first few interviews we did were definitely a case of waiting for the question, answering it and then waiting for the next question. Because you’re meeting someone for the first time, it’s pretty much like talking to a stranger and it’s probably the way I’d conduct a conversation with them.’
Their on-stage banter notwithstanding, Director have been quietly re-introducing themselves to their fanbase over the past few months, via a series of gigs, including a set at Phantom’s First Friday in Tripod and they’re looking forward to hitting the road again with a full album’s worth of new material, alongside old favourites like -Reconnect’, -Come With A Friend’ and -Leave It To Me’.
‘Once it had hit a year and a half since the first album, we thought to ourselves that it’s hit the bottom now,’ Ro laughs. ‘We’ve already lost any momentum we had so we can take as long as we want with the second album. But people who like a band will always remember at least a couple of singles from the first album.’