Simon Taylor-Davis has spent the day doing promo for his band’s latest album. The guitarist and songwriter has been fielding questions from various journalists all looking to pick apart Klaxons second coming.
For this London quartet the cliché of a ‘difficult second album’ is all too fitting. Three and a half years have passed since they released their Mercury prize-winning debut Myths Of The Near Future. In that time, the ridiculous cultural phenomenon of “nu-rave” has been and gone, a rumour-mill of producers (Visconti, Focus, Ford) has bated breath, and reports of spiritual exploration have left most wondering, can Klaxons do it again?
With that in mind, ringing at 4 o’clock on the eve of Surfing The Void’s release, one expects an altogether less than chipper individual to the gent who answers the phone. Maybe Simon’s relaxed manner is simply the result of making a record he’s truly proud of, and in knowing his band is ready to take on the world once more.
He describes Surfing The Void as “very much about facing the present and about appreciating living right now to its fullest. It’s a very positive, optimistic and weird record.”
Much of this “positive weirdness” can be attributed to the influence of two men. Firstly the author Daniel Pinchbeck, with whom he and bassist Jamie Reynolds participated in a shamanistic ritual involving ayahuasca (a pyschedelic brew known to cause all manner of visions and tummy-aches):
“Me and Jamie hung out with him a bit and went to stay with him in New York. Certainly his book 2012: The Return Of The Quetzacoatal was a big inspiration for a lot of the thinking behind this record.”
Simon is quick however to separate their experience with Pinchbeck from that of illicit rockstar indulgence:
“The fundamental thing is that what we’re doing with Daniel didn’t really have anything to do with drugs, it was very much a kind of ancient ceremonial event which we took part in with him. We’ve never written any music on drugs, for us being as sober and focused as possible, we work best that way”.
The other lynchpin in Klaxons comeback has undoubtedly been Surfing The Void’s producer, Ross Robinson. Living at Robinson’s home studio in L.A, songs for the record came at the band’s own pace:
“We found it really positive to be in each other’s company 24 hours a day and really getting into the zone of it. His studio’s in his basement, so we didn’t have those usual restrictions”.
Regarded as the quintessential nu-metal producer, working with the likes of Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and Korn, Robinson seemed an odd choice. Simon disagrees:
“Personally I was aware of him about a decade ago. I remember first hearing the record by the Blood Brothers called ‘Burn, Piano Island, Burn’, which is a seminal screamo record he produced. At this time At The Drive In were around, and after hearing what he did with The Cure, I was a huge fan of his stuff. None of it seemed that much musically further from us”.
Working with Robinson, was unlike anything Klaxons have experienced before, as Simon explains: