The Courteeners are getting ready to release their new, dark-yet-hopeful studio album Anna . Coming nearly three years after Falcon, Liam Fray talks of its arrival, the band's journey back from 'the wilderness,' and about who Anna actually is.
Anna doesn't sound like something The Courteeners have done before...
It definitely feels like us, I think because we took so long doing it. Playing it, people are like, "Oh my god, is this you guys? It sounds great!" That could be a really bad thing [laughs]. The reaction from everyone has been absolutely unbelievable, really humbling. We thought, "Lets just go away and make a really good record - no nonsense, no silly interviews. Let music do the talking." There's a song called 'Marquis' that's personally one of my favourites.
What's it about?
'Marquis' is about a serious relationship that ended last year. It was pretty difficult. I also broke my ankle in the middle of doing the album, so it was on hold for a while. It was a down period, which brought one slow string song, then ten.
Is Anna your ex-girlfriend?
Anna is definitely not her name. Anna is anyone. She represents someone of the opposite sex that causes you heartache, lust, love. All of the above, at the same time.
I'm intrigued by the album artwork...
Yeah, a friend of mine said to check out Paul X Johnson. And when I saw that one I was like, "Right, that's it, I don't care, we have to get it." I was like "Can we call her Anna?" and he was like, "Of course, man."
It's just got such a cinematic feel; it's elegant and dark, kind of stoney, but also quite beautiful in parts. This embodies the whole record for me.
You're releasing 'Lose Control' on the 28th January. Why this track first?
It's the most different thing we've ever done. You have to come back and stamp some kind of authority on the situation. We never want to plateau, so we're just pushing ourselves. It's a bigger song than we've probably done before. It sounds different, and energetic, and the lyrics have dark undertones.
Tell me about 'Are You In Love With A Notion'.
It's that sensation where you do fall in love with a notion. It's difficult not to. It's about quitting your job at Debenhams, running away, and getting married in the sun. And then at the end he's gone off on his pedalo, and he's cramping from frantic pace.
I don't think people see us as funny, but there is a bit of humour in there. I think people feel we're quite serious, with the same faces as our press shots.
The track reminded me of Pulp's 'Common People,' but in reverse.
That's so weird. We have a video somewhere - before anyone ever said this - of me singing an alternative version, doing a little Jarvis dance with my blazer on. It was hilarious. As I was singing I was like, "This could be a Pulp song!" I didn't say it in any interviews, I've not said it to anybody, and I'd say that you're like the seventh or eighth person to say that, which is not a bad thing. I love Pulp. They are the mighty Pulp in my eyes.
Is this album the best work you've ever done?
Without a doubt. We knew that very early on as well. It was quite clear when I got together like seven or eight of the songs in one batch. When I listened to the demos I was like, "These could be really, really strong here." So, yeah, it was a really exciting record for us to make.
With this album you say you've 're-arrived'. What does this mean exactly?
We're ready for it again, and people are hopefully ready to come with us. I feel like people need to bring their drinks round again and get the party started. And I really feel like this is a Saturday night record, where its like "Right, we'll stick that on, we'll have a great time."
We're aware things are pretty bleak for a lot of people, working hard in jobs they don't like just to make ends meet. If we can provide one little tiny slither of relief, whether its this record or at one of the shows, that's a great thing to be a part of, that kind of hour and a half where people just absolutely let go and go for broke.