The first song on Hello Exile is called America (You’re Freaking Me Out). What made you decide to get political?
“I think we’ve always been a political band – sometimes that gets overlooked because a lot of our singles are love songs and things like that, but when we started the band, we wanted to be The Clash! We wanted to be a political band, and I think to not talk about politics in 2019 is kind of crazy. It’s everywhere in life, and to not sing about it would be like not referencing the elephant in the room.”
How close to the truth are some of those lyrics for you? A line like, ‘What kind of monsters did our parents vote for?’ will probably resonate with a lot of people…
“Sure, and I think that that’s such a common thing both in the UK and in America. There’s such a disconnect between the youth and their parents, and we’re constantly having to have these difficult conversations, with the people that you love, of, ‘How could you vote against the interests of your own children about the environment, and about everything?’ It’s really difficult when you love somebody so much, but they don’t really see that your future is being jeopardised. I really love that line, and it means a lot to me – and I hope that it resonates with a lot of other people, too.”
Are there any other political nods or references on the album?
“Yeah, there’s a song called Strawberry Mansion that Tom sings towards the end of the album, which is about climate change and global warming. It’s kind of crazy how much of an issue this actually is, and how little people seem to actually care about it. Tom has been really diving into it, and he’s telling me more stuff every single day. We always have loads of late-night conversations about it, and we’re kind of at a major crisis now. It’s scary. But Tom is a really good person to talk about that, and he wanted to write a song about, well… impending doom (laughs).”
Personally, what song did you find the hardest to write?
“Emotionally, there were a couple that were really, really difficult to write, lyrically. There’s a song called High School Friend, which was a difficult one. We had been working on it for a long time, and nothing was really clicking, and then I really wanted to go back to the drawing board. I had some really emotional connections with some friends back home, and I just drew on those stories. I think there’s something really powerful about what you share with friends that you grew up with, that no-one else can ever really relate to. You have these bonds with these people, and they know you, your families, and they know everything about you. As you go on, it’s really important to keep those people in your life, and that song in particular is about that, and about coming through difficult chapters in both of our lives.
“The closing song, too, was a really difficult one – Farewell Youth. I wanted to write a song about a friend passing away. That’s always a very difficult thing, but it’s also hard when you grow up and people come in and out of your life, and they go from best friend to acquaintance. It makes you question everything. That was a difficult song to look back on and write.”
Did writing it help you with the healing process, though?
“Yeah, absolutely. And that’s kind of what I was getting at earlier when I was saying it was a difficult album to write. It wasn’t so much that there were roadblocks or anything; it was just that the subject matter was tough to revisit. But at the end, it was very cathartic to go through it all.”