Doves – Jimi Goodwin on the Band’s First Album in 11 Years: “The Universal Want” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Doves – Jimi Goodwin on the Band’s First Album in 11 Years: “The Universal Want”

The Passage of Time

Sep 10, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

One of the most exciting announcements this year centered around the return of Doves and the imminent release of a new album, The Universal Want. The band’s first for 11 years since 2009’s Kingdom of Rust, The Universal Want comprises 10 songs—some initially written over a decade ago—that have been shaped together to form an album that stands proudly alongside the trio’s other works while also becoming one of 2020’s finest collections.

Having been on hiatus since 2010, when the band went on an “indefinite pause,” the three band members—Jimi Goodwin (vocals/bass), and brothers Andy Williams (drums/vocals) and Jez Williams (guitars/programming/vocals)—got together in 2017 and slowly but surely, the album came together from that moment onwards. They announced their reunion in 2018 and played their first reunion show in March 2019, to benefit Teenage Cancer Trust.

Doves formed from the ashes of Sub Sub, the ’90s dance group all three members were also in. When their studio burned down, as referenced in “A House,” from Doves’ 2000-released debut album, Lost Souls, they regrouped with a more indie rock sound. Since their debut they have released three other albums: 2002’s The Last Broadcast, 2005’s Some Cities, and 2009’s Kingdom of Rust. After they went on hiatus, Goodwin released a solo album, Odludek, in 2014. That same year, the Williams formed the new band Black Rivers (they released their self-titled debut album in 2015).

Doves co-produced The Universal Want with Dan Austin and it was recorded in their own Frank Bough Sound III studios in North West England. We spoke to Goodwin about how the band came back together, the recording of the new album, and the band’s plans for the future.

Dom Gourlay (Under the Radar): You’re about to release Doves first new album in 11 years. Why now?

Jimi Goodwin: We got together in 2017 to hang out as friends. We hadn’t seen each other for a little while. Certainly not the full 11 years; we’d been at mutual parties and seen each other there. It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years. I’m still freaked out by it! As soon as we started pooling songs and ideas back in the summer of 2017, we just knew it was on. It felt right without saying it.

Which is the oldest song on the album?

“Broken Eyes” and “Forest House” were songs we didn’t quite finish for Kingdom of Rust. But they’re not the oldest. “For Tomorrow” was actually being written for Some Cities. So at least three of them go back a long, long time. We found the time and were in the right space to finish them. We had a listening session together of old stuff and with certain songs, knew we could do them justice this time. We had the ideas to progress them. So, it’s a mixture. Mainly new stuff written in the last three years with a few oldies that we finally managed to lick into shape.

Was it always going to be these 10 songs which are on the album or were any other songs written and recorded that you considered putting on the record?

There was another song written called “Saint Theresa” that nearly made the cut. Hopefully we’ll be releasing it as a bonus vinyl at some point. It’s a really good song that needs to be heard.

Was it always your intention to release the album in September of this year, even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck?

April was the plan, but we suddenly realized that even though all the songs were mixed, a lot of other things like video commissioning weren’t quite ready. So, we sat down and thought it’s taken 11 years so far, realized another few months won’t make a difference in order to give this record the best shot we possibly can, and moved it to September. There was talk of maybe moving it to next year but we all agreed to go for it even though the times are weird. I got a bit freaked out by lockdown. I’ve had quite a few up and down days over the past few weeks with the state of the bloody world. Part of me wondered if this record was really important right now? When it first broke, everything felt pretty hollow thinking about press schedules and interviews. But then at the end of the day we’re musicians and that’s what we do. So, there’s no shame really. What else can we do but crack on and release a really good record?

You mentioned earlier about pooling ideas together when the three of you regrouped in 2017. How did the writing progress? Was it shared or were the songs written individually?

There’s individual songs that we all worked on together. Whoever brings a song, if it passes the test, the three of us will develop it. Jez and Andy came with three tracks. I came with three or four. Some lyrics are dead personal as in one person’s narrative. Others were put together collectively where we ended up bouncing ideas off each other to get the lyrics right. So, it was collaborative as well. There is no real set way of doing it with us.

Which songs are the most personal to you on the album?

“I Will Not Hide” is playful and fun lyrically. “I will not yield, I will not hide, I will not hide any more.” I won’t give in to your demands. If this is a test to see who blinks before the other, I will not yield I will not hide. Darkly cholic is how I’d describe it. “Broken Eyes” and “Prisoners” are quite personal too. “Carousels” as well as it means a lot to all three of us. We’re really happy with how that turned out. I don’t think there’s any filler on this record.

What influenced the title? As with previous Doves albums the title is also a song on the record.

It’s weird that we’ve done it on every record because it’s not necessarily meant to be a statement. We always look for maybe a catch all title that seems to fit the bill for all ten songs. Andy wrote the lyrics for “The Universal Want,” which is a very personal song to him. That’s about how much do we really need desire versus want, and versus necessity?

“Carousels” and “Prisoners” have already come out as lead singles but it’s probably fair to say any of the 10 songs on the record could easily become 45s in their own right. Will there be any more released?

There will be, but I’ll probably get in trouble if I say which ones! We’ve got another one coming out after Christmas then maybe one more after that.

I saw you play Bearded Theory festival last summer, which was an incredible show. Were you tempted to road test any new songs back then?

That was our third gig back. We did a warm up at Parr Hall in Warrington then we did the Royal Albert Hall straight after then we played Bearded Theory. Those shows were more a case of us going out and having some fun with the old records. But now it’s all about going forwards with a stonking album that we love. We’re rehearsing three days a week and I can’t wait to get out and play the new songs live when that day finally comes.

What is your first scheduled show now that everything’s been disrupted? The Heavenly Recordings 30th birthday weekender at Hebden Bridge Trades Club in December?

That’s a good question as I do not know the answer but it may well be. I hope so. Mal [Campbell] and the folks that run the Trades Club are lovely people. I played it on my own in 2014 for Heavenly’s 25th anniversary and also played Odludek in full there six months before that. It’s a really cool venue and I hope it can survive this period. All these venues.

Will all of the new songs off The Universal Want make it into the live set?

At least five or six of them will. We’re learning and programming the new songs as we speak. They’re starting to shape up now. It took a bit of time as it always does but practice makes perfect.

How do you foresee the music industry looking like in a post COVID-19 world?

This art budget the [British] government have announced will take care of theatres and museums, but what about grassroots venues? All of these people by the way, are self-employed.

Will it make you approach things differently in the future?

No, I don’t think it will. Just keep drawing your apple and do what you do because the landscape has changed. I see they’ve already cancelled those drive-in gigs which were a bad idea to start with. It isn’t the same as making out with Madonna in the back of your car! It’s not a drive-in movie is it. It sounds so dry and barren. It’s just weird. I’ll be washing my hair that night.

Going back to your solo record, will there be a follow-up to Odludek?

Yeah, but it will be what I promised Odludek would have been which was a mad mish mash of things going on. I make hip-hop beats as well and have been working with several underground rappers. I’m always doing things like that. Just for fun. It’s real quick. I just get an instant vibe going and put them down. So, I’ve got folders full of really out there, sample-based but freaked out tracks. I want to do something with a few rappers that I’ve already been working with. I just want to put out a crazy, funky record.

Is there anyone in particular you’re hoping to work with?

I’ve worked with a guy called Pan Amsterdam, who’s a jazz trumpet player but can rhyme as well. I actually wanted him for my record but he must have missed that bit in the email as it’s coming out on his record instead! Something must have got lost in translation. He’s from New York. He produced Iggy Pop’s last album with Leron Thomas. I’ve got various other guys’ tracks ongoing at the moment as well that I’m finishing, hopefully with the intention of resurrecting Casino Records—the label we originally put out “The Cedar Room” on with Rob Gretton. I just want to get them on Bandcamp then throw music up there all the time.

Bandcamp are one of the few musical outlets that have come out of this whole pandemic in a positive light.

I love that company. Remember those Remington Steele adverts? I liked it so much I bought the company! I just think it’s a brilliant platform and I buy music off there all the time. That’s one algorithm I can handle in my life. It never throws you a dud and its artist driven. There’s a load of love there. You can tell. I’ve been talking about it for years. I want to get an imprint up and just bang out all this music that I make on my own. A lot of really eccentric and funky shit. Heavy salad!

What advice would you give to a new artist just starting out?

What advice could I give to somebody? Who’s gonna listen to me? I go back to that saying, “Keep drawing your apple.” Keep going. Do it. Do it until you can’t do it no more. I call it being a lifer. I had a job in the building trade. I used to work for my dad every summer in the holidays, on site. Then by the time I was 18, 19 I started making a modest living out of music and I’ve kept it going. We’ve all been dead lucky but we’ve also put the hours in. You’ve got to put the hours in.

That’s true. There’s a reason why two decades on from your first album and 11 years since the last one, people still can’t wait to hear the new Doves record. The Internet went crazy when “Carousels” came out the other week!

We were absolutely bowled over by the response to that track. We were really humbled. Eleven years and people are saying they love it and been for this such a long time.

Will there be another Doves record after The Universal Want?

Yeah, definitely. Like I said before about my own ideas, I think we’ve got a really good freakout record in us. We’ve been doing modular synth jams with Martin Rebelski, our live keyboard player. We’ve got about seven or eight hours’ worth of us jamming. I wanted it to be a companion piece to this album as a bonus but we just had too much work on. We want to put out an imaginary film soundtrack. We’ve got the material. We just need to pack it together and work on it.

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September 16th 2020

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