Interview with Editors:
Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams on the evolution of the five-headed beast.

In Interviews by indiespect

After six records Editors decided to release a best of compilation called «Black Gold». The record also contains three brand new tracks named «Frankenstein», «Upside Down» and «Black Gold». Justin Lockey and Elliott Willams are part of the English indie band since the making of «The Weight of Your Love». It was album number four and was released in 2013. Before they played a show in Zurich for the current «Black Gold» tour they took a look back on their personal story with Editors and how the band became like a family.

Editors are:

Tom Smith (vocals, guitar)
Russell Leetch (bass)
Ed Lay (drums)
Justin Lockey (guitar)
Elliott Williams (synths, guitar)

Indiespect: Do you remember the last time you played at the Komplex 457 in Zurich?

Justin Lockey: Yeah, it was really hot. It was crazy hot. We had to buy some industrial fans for the stage.

Elliott Williams: It was the hottest gig we’ve ever played.

Indiespect: I talked to Ed Lay after that show and he said that he likes the heat and when sweat runs down his body during a show.

Justin: That’s because he’s a strange boy.

Indiespect: So, obviously it’s not the same with you.

Elliott: I don’t mind if it's hot, but I don’t like that sort of heat.

Justin: That was impressive.

Elliott: We started to use fans since then and everyone just talks about how hot that gig was. I think also the audience thought: oh man, that was too hot.

Justin: Our support band October Drift as well, they always talk about this and they say: fuck man, that was the hottest gig ever.

Elliott: It was a very hot day to be fair.


Ed Lay, Justin Lockey, Tom Smith, Elliott Williams, Russell Leetch (from left to right)

Indiespect: You’re working with artist Rahi Rezvani for a long time now, also on the latest video for «Upside Down». Did the look he created maybe even influence the sound of your band in a way?

Justin: He usually comes in a little bit later on in the process. He does hang out with us in the studio and takes photos. I think, it’s our music in general that leans well into what he does. And he is a fan of the band and he’s a friend of the band. It’s a very simple process working with him.

Indiespect: He has almost become a band member, it seems.

Justin: Yeah, he is. He comes on stage. He can do everything he wants. He’s a lovely man.

Elliott: He’s family, really. He’s like our sixth member. We just trust him implicitly, I guess. We feel safe in his hands in terms of what he does artistically. There’s a lot of trust and you don’t often get that relationship with people you work with, making videos or doing your artwork. We’re very fortunate.

Justin: It’s usually a fucking pain in the ass. But with Rahi it’s quite simple.


Justin Lockey on stage.

Indiespect: You’re currently touring your best of record «Black Gold». In what way is a best of tour different to other tours?

Justin: It’s a different name on the poster, my friend. (laughs)

Elliott: Normally, you’re doing a tour to support a record.

Justin: You play a lot of things from that record. So, this one is little bits from all records.

Elliott: We’re deep diving into things that we haven’t done before. There’s quite a bit of the older stuff from the An End Has A Start period. And tonight we’re playing few more things from The Back Room. You get to do things that are a bit rarer. We’re playing a track called Distance which the band hadn’t played since the first record.

Justin: Since the first record, so that’s nearly fifteen years ago.

Indiespect: On «With Distance: The Acoustic Recordings» you reworked some of the older songs that were written when you weren’t part of the band. How did that feel?

Justin: It was great. It was just me, Tom and Elliott that worked on that – and a cellist called Riley. It was good fun. It’s good to hear the songs that went back to when they started. You could put those songs in any kind of style and they’ll all work. It’s just classic great songwriting.

Indiespect: Did you get another connection to those songs after working on them?

Justin: Not really. It’s just a different way of looking at it. It’s just a variation.

Elliott: I guess, those older Editors songs are like adopted children in a way now. Of course we weren’t there when Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors was written but we played it so much that it does feel like a part of us.

Justin: There’s gonna be songs on the third record that we’d played more times than they did back then.

Elliott: You do adopt them as like they were kids. The songs that we were part of were our kids and now we’ve adopted the older ones as well. (laughs)


«Black Gold» is a best-of compilation which contains three new tracks. It was released in October 2019 and the artwork is again from artist Rahi Rezvani.

Indiespect: The two of you have quite different stories on how you joined the band. Justin, you once told that you didn’t have any personal connection to the band before.

Justin: Kind of, but not direct. I worked with a producer who made the third record.

Indiespect: You mean Flood?

Justin: Yeah. So I did a record with Flood, probably a year or two before Editors were there. He’s a good friend. I think, my name got thrown around in the dark times as a possible guy to come in and help out.

Indiespect: But you had a completely different background, didn’t you?

Justin: I came from math rock. For me it was quite different. My music before I joined Editors was quite arty and quite noisy, well a lot noisy. But yeah, that’s fine.

When I turned up on day one, they realized I’m not that good on guitar.
But they were stuck with me, so they had to fucking deal with it.

Justin Lockey, Editors

Indiespect: Did you find your way in, even if it was such a different style you used to play?

Justin: Well, yeah. They must have thought: this guy seems to be able to play guitar. And then when I turned up on day one, they realized I’m not that good on guitar. But they were stuck with me, so they had to fucking deal with it. I’ve got production background, I produced a lot of records. That’s half of what I do. I didn’t just come in to turn up and play guitar.

Indiespect: So, you’re open to different styles as well.

Justin: Well, yes. If you gonna change it off a bit, you don’t wanna go and hire someone who plays exactly like the guy you’re not with anymore. That’s like splitting up with a girl, going out the next day with a girl that looks exactly the same and is wearing the same dress. It just wouldn’t work. I’m just the girl in a different dress.


Editors during their first show at the Fri-Son in Fribourg since 2007.

Indiespect: Elliott, you were a fan before you joined the band?

Elliott: I saw Editors when they were on The Back Room tour. But I was in a band…

Justin: You’ve toured with them.

Elliott: I toured with them with my old band and we had the same management staff. So, I knew them a little bit when they asked me if I want to come in.

Indiespect: I'm not quite sure. Did you play live shows with them, before you joined the band?

Elliott: Yeah.

Justin: You did the Euro tour, didn’t you?

Elliott: Quite a few tours, yes.

Me and Elliott are both from the recording background. Those guys don’t record their own records, you know.

Justin Lockey, Editors

Indiespect: What do you think is the main influence that the two of you had on the band since you joined?

Justin: Oh, we just made them better, essentially.

Elliott laughs.

Elliott: I don’t know. I guess, you would have to ask the others.

Justin: I think, we bring different skills and different outlooks. A band like that one had done records and they had a way of how they do things. When we came in they had to accommodate the evolution of what we do as well as how they’ve done things in the past, which is two very different things. Me and Elliott are both from the recording background. Those guys don’t record their own records, you know. Whereas me and Elliott are both producers.


Editors developed a lot since Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams joined the band.

Elliott: I mean, initially when we joined, it wasn’t a long term thing. We’re weren’t really sure how long it was going on for. But there was a chemistry between the five of us, it clicked. We all understood each other musically, even though we had different backgrounds. There was a harmony between the five of us that kept going until now. It still feels like we all understand and respect each other. Maybe before the band wasn’t so much of a democracy whereas now it is like a five-headed beast that’s all working together towards a common goal.

Indiespect: That means also the way the band members interact with each other?

Justin: Oh yeah. It’s like a family. I don’t think it was like that before. You got to think about the amount of pressure that band went through with their first three records. They went from this size (shows low) to this size (shows high) in a very steep curve. That can fray relationships and you can’t take a step back because you’re in this closed environment for so long. When me and El came in, it just opened things up a bit. We got more communication.

Maybe before the band wasn’t so much of a democracy whereas now
it is like a five-headed beast that’s all working together towards a common goal.

Elliott Williams, Editors

Indiespect: Your drummer Ed told me that he used to be Russells little pet in the early days because he didn’t join the band at the very beginning. Is it the same with you? You’re not still the new ones?

Justin: We’ve done as many records as the initial ones, even one more if you count the greatest hits.

Elliott: It’s always gonna bit a bit like that. With the fan base as well. You are always gonna be seen as the new ones.

Indiespect: Even if you’re eight years in.

Justin: I’m still the new guitarist.

Elliott: If you let that stuff bother you, then you go insane. We’re just not bothered. We’re happy between the five of us, doing what we do.

Justin: We have fun, man.

Tom Smith

Tom Smith and his band mates have a democracy now. In the early days it was harder to handle the pressure.

Indiespect: There are three new songs on «Black Gold». I was wondering if they were initially thought as the start of a new record.

Justin: No, no. They were just for this record. We went to LA for two weeks to throw them around at Jacknife Lee’s studio who made the second record. It was a good time.

Elliott: When we had the best of conversation, we knew that we wanted to put new tracks on it and not just having it as this terrible thing of looking back. We wanted to have a step in the present. So, it felt important to put some new songs on it. Not that it’s a sign where we want to go next, we were just trying some things and have some fun doing those songs at the same time as doing this retrospective thing.

Come on teetar, why don't we stop? Just wasting time
Wherever we go the lights stay low, I'm Frankenstein
I know what you'll say, you need the creation, not the creator
The nights where we play, old man Hemingway, mojito and chaser

Frankenstein, Editors

Indiespect: «Frankenstein», one of the new tracks, has a funny line which clears up that you are aware of a common mistake in the way people use this name: «I know what you'll say: you mean the creation, not the creator». Are you familiar with Mary Shelley’s legendary story?

Justin: Yeah. It happened in Zurich. And do you know, who else was in the room when that happened? It was three people. It was Lord Byron, Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley. It was a storm and they couldn’t leave Zurich. So, they all sat in the room, right? Fucking Byron, who essentially invented vampires, Mary Shelley who invented fucking Frankenstein and Percy Shelley her husband, also a writer. All these three stories happened after being stranded in Zurich. This is the birthplace of horror.

Indiespect: Frankenstein is a really good book. Often, people think it’s only about horror and a monster, but it’s a very dramatic story.

Justin: Yes, it’s totally different. And all happened here. How crazy is that? Zurich knowledge, my friend.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Justins information about Mary Shelley's creation is quite impressive even though he got something wrong with the city where the mentioned events happened. 

The party arrived at Geneva on 14 May 1816. Byron joined them on 25 May, with his young physician, John William Polidori and rented the Villa Diodati, close to Lake Geneva at the village of Cologny; Percy Shelley rented a smaller building called Maison Chapuis on the waterfront nearby. They spent their time writing, boating on the lake, and talking late into the night.
"It proved a wet, ungenial summer", Mary Shelley remembered in 1831, "and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house". Sitting around a log fire at Byron's villa, the company amused themselves with German ghost stories, which prompted Byron to propose that they "each write a ghost story"


Indiespect: Justin, the first show you joined the band was their headliner gig at Rock Werchter back in 2012.

Justin: We did a warm-up but this was the big one. It was the bands biggest show they ever played.

Indiespect: Up until now?

Justin: It’s still up there, probably in the top three, it was like 60’000 people.

Elliott: We’ve done the same show a few time.

Justin: We’ve done it three times now. (laughs)

Indiespect: But how did it feel to start with a massive show like that?

Justin: It was great and just surreal.

Elliott: That’s what we were working towards. We didn’t sit back and thought everything should stay the way it was.

Justin: It was a big moment for the band, I think. If that would haven’t gone well, probably we wouldn’t be here now.


Editors are a proper five-piece since the making of The Weight of Your Love back in 2013.

Indiespect: Is that still the highlight of your time with Editors or is there something different that comes into your minds?

Justin: I don’t know, man. We’re lucky that we get to do a lot of really cool shit. Like last year when we went to LA to do the songs for this record that was just amazing. Going to Nashville to make The Weight of Your Love was fucking crazy, ridiculous.

Elliott: Playing shows in Mexico and just hanging out there.

Justin: Headlining Rock Werchter, headlining any festival. We’ve done quite a few now and it’s mind-blowing.

Elliott: When The Cure had their 50th birthday we got invited. When this all stops and you’re an old man, you can look back. Maybe then you can pick favorites.

We’re lucky that we get to do a lot of really cool shit.

Justin Lockey, Editors

Indiespect: Do you keep any souvenirs of special shows?

Justin: I’ve got all my passes. They’re on my staircase at home.

Indiespect: But no poster of a special line-up where you were involved? Like the gig you played with The Cure?

Elliott: Oh yeah, stuff like that. I didn’t get one. I might have to try to find one. But we got posters from some stuff. I got a whole box of stuff. I have to go through it properly one day.

Indiespect: Will the songs on that tour always remain the same in the set?

Justin: It changes every night. The core of it is still the same but we are rotating songs in and out of the set.

Elliott: There’s a few more from the Back Room time.

Indiespect: Thank you very much for your time.

Justin: Awesome, thank you.