Interviews

Interview with Nothing But Thieves, juggling renewal and rhythm7 min de lecture

Nothing But Thieves is a band that has been releasing material and touring for years now. Meeting at the Bataclan, they are proud to talk about their latest born, “What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way?“.

Meeting Nothing But Thieves

Today, we’re meeting Nothing But Thieves. A band that has relentlessly toured, released new material and redefined their genre, while preserving their creativity and identity. Although they have been on the road, their newest EP, “What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way?” marks a strong break between their previous music and the current one, as we reviewed earlier in October.

Our appointment is set in a venue that has strongly marked Paris’ history, as we are expected to meet Nothing But Thieves at the Bataclan. Almost exactly three years after the events, the venue has been completely renewed. As Emma and I step in, we both agree that the atmosphere feels different than in any other place. Looking around, the stage is already being prepared for the show, and the technicians are all busy, checking the sound, lights and other things we don’t necessarily notice while enjoying a concert.

But we won’t be talking music while surrounded by movement, noises and people. Instead, we’re invited upstairs, in the dressing room, where we’re expected to meet Conor, the lead singer, Dominic and Joe, both guitarists in the band, all three of them very much implicated in the creative process. As we take place and sit, they seem at ease. Indeed, after all these years, giving interviews, talking about their craft and exchanging about it might have become an usual thing for them to do.

Talking about music

Taha: The last time in you were in Paris was in January, earlier this year. This time, a new EP called “What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way?” has come to complete a discography that is already diverse. Congratulations on the release! How have the reactions been, and how have you integrated the new tracks into your setlist?

Conor and Joe: Thank you! Indeed, we have been touring and playing the same tracks for years now, so a way to keep it fresh for us has been to constantly play with the setlist. Plus, we have fans who follow us on tour, so it feels important to us not to deliver the same show every time they come by.

Regarding the EP, it has received good criticism. And we have played only two shows with songs from the new EP. Although, Forever & Ever More had already been included in America, as it was our first single. So we plan on adding new stuff all along the road.

Emma: Because you’ve been on tour for four years now, juggling festivals, venues and countries. How did you manage to write and find the time to create this new EP? And did this new rhythm allowed you to have a different perspective on your music?

Joe: This new EP, WDYTWYMMTW, is a subtle mix of material that had been dormant and newer texts and music we have been working on tour. Forever & Ever More was the first song that we wrote specifically for this EP, while on the contrary Take This Lonely Heart was supposed to be saved for an upcoming album. It was a sort of concept we had in mind, but didn’t push it to its limits. This pressured environment really helped us see differently.

Conor: Some tracks had originally been composed for Broken Machine. Gods for instance. Although the previous version was slower, it has been reworked so it would fit sonically more. We did a couple of other versions, which had a different touch to them, including piano. To write these songs and record them, as we were going from one festival to another, we had approximatively three-days-long recording sessions, so it was very squashed. But this pressure made the songs come together, and have a common sound. So in the end, yes, this rhythm allowed us to apprehend our recording process differently. Decision-making, recording and writing made us pickier.

Taha: This EP feels composite, navigating between genres. What was your initial vision for this EP, and could it be considered as a pre-taste for an upcoming album?

Connor: I think this EP truly stands on its own two feet. It doesn’t represent something that might be coming, and isn’t hinting to anything. Actually, we didn’t want it to be attached to Broken Machine, which has quite a unique sound, but we envisioned it as a rocky-EP, which it became. And this dissociation flows down to the videos, having a different approach to them.

Joe: Releasing a rocky-EP was actually what we had in mind. The creative process, the time pressure, and the work we put into it gave us a surprising result. The ideas we have for upcoming projects are actually a lot different from that, and don’t sound alike. So I would definitely qualify this EP as a stand-alone project.

Taha: As a listener, and being on the other side of the headphones, having an insight of your vision is interesting. When you envision a new project, what does an artist’s journey look like: do you have an idea that you try going towards, or is it more organic, forming itself and becoming an entity?

Conor: We really don’t put any barriers to what we want. We don’t write any briefs or tag lines we want our material to correspond to. We do have a vision, that consists of creating the best thing we can from our point of view, but I really don’t think we actually know what it is about to be until we dive into the process. It does keep the creative process spontaneous, while keeping you scared, and excited about it, not knowing where you are heading.

Joe: Being inventive is the key.

Emma: Your last LP, Broken Machine was very engaged. It included politics, denouncing the media, and addressing various messages, and religion. Tonight, you’re playing at the Bataclan. It is a place that has been under attack in the name of religion, in a series of events that have deeply wounded and marked Paris’ history. How do you feel to play here, regarding the messages that you can deliver in your music?

Joe and Conor: We’ve been told this previously. As we were planning our show in Paris, the Bataclan was one of the venues in which we had been offered to perform. As a band, we all agree that it is important to show resilience, bands have to keep on performing in such places, as long as audiences are willing to come. And we instantly felt like it was our duty to play there, and were 100% sure we had to do that show.

We received messages from our followers on Twitter, stating that they would have loved to come, but they didn’t felt comfortable with our venue choice, and we totally understand. Finally, we have songs that will feel specifically relevant tonight, particularly because of their message and the place we perform at.

Taha: In terms of messages and layers, Gods truly stands apart, lyrically-speaking. Obviously, at first sight, the texts are about religion. But diving deeper into it, the denunciation of social media and influencers is striking. What is it truly about?

Joe: Celebrity culture is at heart of Gods, indeed. And specifically the President of the United States. Fame is the next religion, and we truly wanted to put this out.

Emma: Does having this crazy rhythm allow you to enjoy the cities you’re in, and in what extent can you keep your heads above water, when travelling?

Dominic: We actually don’t have the chance to go around and about as much as we would like to, when we’re touring. Lots of friends, relative and close people think that we are on a big holiday around the world. But juggling interviews, sleep time, rehearsals and every think. Obviously, touring can’t be called work, but it surely does feel like it is.

Leaving the room, both Emma and I are impressed, and are eager to hear more about any upcoming project. Friends of mine were attending the show, and told me that they truly delivered. If any of you has the chance to be part of their tour, do not hesitate for a minute.

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