First Issue Revisited: Doves on “Lost Souls” | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, September 30th, 2022  

Doves in Los Angeles, 2002.

First Issue Revisited: Doves on “Lost Souls”

Out of the Ashes

Aug 12, 2022 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern (for Under the Radar) Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue
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As part of our 20th anniversary coverage we thought it would be interesting to conduct brand new interviews with some of the artists interviewed in our very first issue way back in December 2001. We weren’t able to talk to everyone for a variety of reasons but luckily many of the first issue artists were game for a catch up to discuss their albums from the early 2000s and what they’ve been up to since. With each new interview we’ve included a small image of the layout of the first page of each artist’s original article from our first issue. These articles originally ran in our 20th Anniversary Issue, but are now being posted online. Here’s a First Issue Revisited interview with Doves.

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At the height of the Haçienda’s popularity, it was a real mission to get into the legendary Manchester nightclub, which was open from 1982 to 1997. A spot on the Haçienda’s guest list was the motivation for twin brothers Andy and Jez Williams and their school chum Jimi Goodwin to form the dance act Sub Sub in the early ’90s. As Sub Sub, the trio would be counted as part of the music industry, therefore ensuring a smooth and gratis entry into the venue’s hallowed halls.

“That was really as far as we were thinking,” remembers Andy Williams from his home in Lymm, UK, on the far outskirts of Manchester. “And it just took off.”

That is an understatement. Sub Sub sold half a million copies of their UK Top 5 hit single, “Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use).” The trio’s lives were funded for the next few years, as was a state-of-the-art studio. The studio burning down on the twins’ birthday is the stuff of indie lore, as it marked the end of Sub Sub and the start of Doves.

“There is this theory that we became a rock band overnight,” says Williams. “That’s not the case. We’d started morphing back into that because we stopped going to clubs. Before it shut down, the Haçienda became quite a violent, unpleasant place we didn’t want to go anymore. It became more interesting to pick up our old instruments. The studio fire was the last nail in the coffin. But there’s no way Doves would have existed without ‘Ain’t No Love’ doing as well as it did.”

While they were writing songs—now set up in New Order’s abandoned studio, thanks to the New Order’s manager Rob Gretton—the Williams and Goodwin kept waiting for a “Morrissey or a Jarvis Cocker” to walk in and “sprinkle the magic dust” over their musical creations, but they ended up accepting what Gretton was telling them all along: put Goodwin on vocals.

Doves feature from Issue #1.
Doves feature from Issue #1.

“We realized we had the chops to do it within the band,” says Williams. “We were in the studio every day, six days a week. We were running it like a military boot camp. We were absolutely determined. We were going to do a record that we were going to stand by. We were on a mission.”

The three worked on their own, engineering, producing, and recording themselves, with Jez Williams at the helm, to create their 2000-released debut album, Lost Souls. They only went to Steve Osborne (U2, Elbow, Lush) at the very end for “Catch the Sun,” which they couldn’t quite nail, and the producer ended up recording them live.

“All our time spent in electronic dance music we brought to Doves,” says Andy Williams. “We didn’t want to be part of Britpop. There were bands we liked at the time, which took a more interesting, psychedelic, hypnotic approach to rock music. We weren’t doing anything radically different, but we were relieved that people got Lost Souls, because the money was starting to run out. When people really liked Lost Souls, I remember thinking, ‘Maybe we’ve got a crack of this being our career.’ We were trying to create something honest. I think that’s what people connected with.”

Doves brought everything they had experienced, both as musicians and music fans, to Lost Souls. The album had the build-ups and drops of club music plus the atmospherics of psychedelic sounds and the raw emotion of their formative years. The pull of “Break Me Gently” and breakdown of “The Cedar Room” carve out pain as much as they provide the salve for it.

Lost Souls arrived not just at a tipping point for music, which the start of every decade is, but at the turn of the century, at the peak of CD sales and the era of peer-to-peer file sharing via Napster (and with iTunes on the horizon), as music blogs and websites started to compete with print music magazines, among the ashes of whatever Britpop bands Oasis and The Verve had accomplished Stateside and facing the surge of American garage rock bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes.

On an early tour of North America for Lost Souls, Doves were the support band for The Strokes. From there they headlined their own 1000+ capacity shows in major markets, although this has never been reflected in the trio’s non-existent presence in the U.S. charts.

“We’ve never made money out of touring the U.S.,” says Williams matter-of-factly. “In the old days, the label would have to pump money into making up the shortfall. I’m glad they did because we built up a very loyal audience in the States. Outside of the UK, States is our biggest fanbase. But how many British bands in the last 20 years have broken through in America? To do well in America you need to pretty much live there and just gig it and gig it and gig it.

“When we [next] come back, there’s no such thing as tour support from the label. We will make it work, but we wouldn’t be able to afford to do what we used to, which was five, six weeks of playing everywhere. It’s a shame.”

Still, Doves released four albums after Lost Souls, including 2020’s The Universal Want, which came out after an unintentional 11-year hiatus, during a time that was desperate for new music, particularly from a band that reminded people of a less complicated world.

Williams thinks of the start of Doves as “simpler times,” pointing to actual album sales as the main reason for the band’s traction. “To be a new artist, the odds are stacked up against you,” he says. “So much white noise out there. The internet is meant to democratize things, and it’s amazing to be able to access the entire recorded history in the last 50 years, but it is just really tough to make an impression now.

“But that’s not to say you shouldn’t do it. If that’s what’s in you, you’ve got to keep on cracking on and keep creating. You can’t let fear stop you doing something.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 69 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, our 20th Anniversary Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.dovesofficial.com

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