Interview by Steve Kilmister

Interview with Architects' Ali Dean for Gig Junkies

Architects must surely be one of the hardest working British bands out there right now. We managed to grab a few minutes with bass player Ali Dean before their show at the Birmingham Institute recently to talk about AirMiles, stealing Kerrang! Award trophies and the whirlwind tour cycle for their amazing album Lost Forever // Lost Together.

GJ: I think it was almost exactly a year ago to the day that we last met, just after the launch of Lost Forever // Lost Together. You guys have had a bit of a year!

A: It’s been a great year. It’s been a lot of work and we’ve been pretty hectic the whole time but myself personally, there’s not been a day that’s gone by where I haven’t absolutely loved it, it’s just been so much fun.

GJ: You guys must have racked up some serious AirMiles this year?

A: [laughs] Yeah, but stupidly enough after being a band for over 10 years we’ve only just set up an AirMiles thing so we’ve wasted probably 9 years worth!

GJ: I think you guys have had around 25 dates on just this UK and Europe leg of the tour, how are the energy levels doing?

A: Just starting to fade a little bit I guess, it has been really hard work this tour because we’ve been doing everything ourselves, we don’t take techs out on tour. So you load in, you set up, you play the show, you get 5 minutes to have a beer after the show then it’s back down to load it all out again. It’s just been quite physically demanding. With it being a headline set as well it’s quite long, but the way the shows have been going it just pulls you through it easily. As soon as we get on stage every night we’ve been getting great reactions from everyone that comes out so you just put it to the back of your mind and you just get on with it.

GJ: I hear the last few shows have been among the best?

A: Yeah we did the Ritz in Manchester the other night which for me was probably the best show of the tour so far, that was absolutely crazy. We did Bristol the other day as well that was great and Glasgow was incredible last night, so we’re expecting tonight to be another good one.

GJ: So are you guys going to get any downtime before festival season kicks in?

A: We have about 3 weeks off after this, then we go to Ireland for a couple of shows then we go to Australia to do a headliner there and then in between that and the festivals there’s a little bit of time off. It’s not a particularly hectic festival schedule for us.

GJ: I think the latest announcement I saw was Slam Dunk?

A: Yeah can’t wait for that, we’re headlining our stage, which is amazing. I think we last did it in 2012 and I can’t believe how big it’s got now and having a band like You Me At Six headlining is just a statement of where that thing is going.

Interview with Architects' Ali Dean for Gig Junkies

Live Architects photo by Steve Kilmister from their Birmingham gig 12/3/2015

GJ: I also saw a few weeks back the official announcement that you guys have officially become a five-piece, with Adam [Christianson] joining the band. Does it feel any different at all?

A: Not at all, it’s dumb because we toured with him ages ago, he came out and did the Almost World Tour with us and so we knew him very well from that, then we tried a few guys out from the UK who didn’t really work out and we thought we have to get Adam back because he was just a perfect fit with the group, and he’s an incredible guitar player. He’s phenomenal, he never makes mistakes; he’s like a robot on stage, it’s crazy. We’ve known that we’ve wanted him in the band since as soon as we got him back so it’s never been a doubt in our mind that he was going to eventually, we were talking about when we were going to tell him but it sort of fell to the back of our minds, I know that sounds disrespectful to Adam, but as far as we’re concerned he’s always been in the group, it’s just nice that we’ve now actually got round to telling him [laughs].

GJ: Seeing as though he’s been with you for so long, I take it there were no hazing rituals or anything when you gave him the news?

A: I usually get quite a lot of grief from the guys but he is now taking on quite a bit of that as the new guy, so I was kind of happy about that! He fits in so well with the group and it’s just funny that we had to outsource to Canada to find someone that would fit the bill perfectly.

GJ: I guess it’s more about the right man for the job though.

A: Absolutely.

GJ: During the Almost World Tour you filmed the One Hundred Days documentary, can we expect anything like that this time?

A: Not from this cycle no, a lot of bands take out photographers on the whole tour with them and this time we’ve been with Josh Halling and he’s been making short videos and giving us a lot of stuff to post online which is almost like a way of documenting the whole tour. That’s an important part of touring crews now, you see it usually from bands a lot bigger than ourselves, but it’s a great way of showing people that are going to come out to shows what they can expect and maybe get a bit more of a buzz going for the tour.

GJ: Josh’s work has looked great so far.

A: Yeah he’s talented and I think he’ll go far in this business.

GJ: You guys have been locked in a bus for basically a year now, has any of that time been used to work on anything new?

A: Usually Tom writes everything at home; he did do a little bit on tour in the bus but not so much at the moment. We’ve got a few songs that are pretty well structured, they’re not done, obviously it takes quite a long time to formulate the finished product but he’s certainly been cracking on with it and just me, Tom and Dan have had a few practices together where it’s just been working on new stuff. It’s coming along nicely. We have quite a long period off after the summer and that’s all going to be based on writing and eventually recording.

GJ: I guess you guys couldn’t have asked for a better reception for Lost Forever // Lost Together, was the Kerrang! Award the icing on the cake?

A: Yeah it was really cool, it was something that none of us expected to actually happen. We got the nomination and we all thought this is cool to even get a nod from Kerrang! and then it shocked me so much when we were at the awards and it happened, I was like “This is mental!” The reaction that we’ve had from fans who come out to the shows has just been incredible, we knew as we went into the making of that album that it had to be our  best if we were going to be able to keep going as a band, and I think the fact that people were so into it has saved the band.

GJ: Did it feel that way while you were making it, did it feel like it was the next level for Architects?

A: I think when we were making it we knew that we had to do something really strong and that it had to be our best; we put a lot of time and a lot of work into it, Tom in particular. Without sounding arrogant, I think it’s our best record; sonically it’s just a step up from anything we’ve done before. Not to dis any of the other studios that we’ve worked at before but we needed something different, we needed a slightly different approach to recording and I think that paid off in the long run for us.

GJ: So how do you share one great big silver ‘K’ award trophy between the five of you, is it some sort of time-share deal?

A: [laughs] No, we have one each, Dan got to take the actual one from the night home and then we all got our another one each plus one for the manager and for the studios. Actually, I think my roommate Murray [Mcleod] from the Xcerts hijacked it and has written the Xcerts on it [laughs]

GJ: Well I guess that’s one way of winning album of the year! As you said, you guys have been doing this stuff for over 10 years now. Does it feel that you’ve arrived where you want to be with Architects, or does it still feel like there is another evolution?

A: The step up in the size of the band from putting this album out and touring it gave us all a change of perspective about what we can achieve as a band. I think now that we know there is the scope for our music to be quite popular we’re now looking past what we are doing right now and to the future with a bit more confidence which is something that the band has never really had. As we just said we’ve been going for 10 years and at times we thought, “what do we really have to do”? I feel like we’ve now made our place in the scene and I think we can go on and do even better with the next record. I don’t want to put a downer on where we are right now though because the amount of people coming out to the shows, for us, is just so insane, it’s crazy.

GJ: Seeing some of those shows on One Hundred Days where you had literally a handful of people there, it must feel a little different sometimes?

A: Yeah! It’s a massive change from that and we’re all so grateful for it.

GJ: We touched on new material and it’s clear that you guys don’t shy away from tackling big topics in your lyrical content. Is that something that we can expect to continue; is that something that is part of Architects?

A: Yeah it is now, I think it’s important for bands to have a message and I think if we put out new material that wasn’t talking about something important that we’d be selling ourselves short, so much work goes into creating the music for the band that it would be dumb not to bring some real meaning to the lyrics as well. I can’t say whether it’ll be as political as Daybreaker or whether it’ll be more personal stuff like on Lost Forever, it’s Tom that’s writing the lyrics and so it’s stuff that’s personal to him but there’s definitely not going to be a drastic change.

GJ: I’ve always really liked the artwork that you guys choose, especially the identity for Lost Forever // Lost Together, is there someone in the band that drives your use of artwork?

A: It’s interesting actually; I was just talking to Dan about it earlier. He’s got a real thing for picking out artists that he finds, either those that approach us or someone else puts in his direction. The album artwork was actually originally submitted as a t-shirt design and we liked it so much that we asked whether we could make some album artwork out of it. We’ve never really had such a strong idea for artwork before, so that’ll be something cool to carry forward to the next one.

GJ: Just quickly, I can’t image you have much time, but are there any side-projects that you guys are working on?

A: No, any time that we get at home at the moment has been just time to relax, take a step away from the band and see family and friends. In the longer period that we’re going to have off I think everyone is going to be very much focused on the next album, there’s never really any talk of side projects or anything like that. I think that this time we’re actually going to spend a lot more time playing the songs together. In the past we didn’t really have time to do that so it’s more Tom would make the music on his laptop, send it out to everyone, then we’d feed back different ideas. We only ended up playing the tracks together just once before we went to record them.

GJ: Really!?

A: Yeah it was just a big monster practice. We’re going to approach it in a very different way this time I think. It’ll be nice to get home and focus on seeing friends and family, me and Sam like to play a lot of football so we’re going to do some of that hopefully, and just take care of ourselves, it’s been a hectic couple of months recently.

GJ: Thank you very much for giving us some time, have a good show tonight.

A: Thank you man, I hope it’s a banger!

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