And was your coming out as gay in the band your decision? Or was the press trying to confirm it or anything like that?
I never came out, really...
You have to be in to be out...
Yeah, you have to be in to be out, and I was never in. I was never presented with such closet. I was just always allowed to be who I was when I was a kid. My mom is gay. My dad's a hippy. You know, pretty easy-going parents. There was no pressure to be straight, so other than dealing with a few of my own issues with it, I was pretty much out fully when I was a teenager.
So, being told in my late 20s that there's some coming out story in the papers, I found it a bit silly really. Personally, it made the newspaper look a bit stupid, I thought. It made them seem a bit kind of thick. Because there were lots of people... I had mentioned it in articles six months earlier. I've always thought it's relevant to my songwriting. It's relevant to what I do as an artist. It's relevant to my life. It's not only what I do in bed. It's also part of my culture, being gay, so I always thought it was relevant.
I've never hid it from anyone. So, it was a surprise to me when it comes into the paper and it's a big thing. I suppose they were looking for a story that week. They had a quiet week. They had a bit of a gap in the paper and they thought they'd fill it. In many ways, I'm glad people know. I've always wanted people to know, but I never wanted to make a fuss of it. I never thought it was the most exciting thing about us as a band. It's just one thing about us.
And was there ever any sense from the label, like 'Don't say this'?
No. Certainly, in the UK, it's not really an issue. I don't know about over here. You hear stories about radio stations that won't play you if you're gay.
So, what is your process like, as far as your songwriting?
The whole thing started from songwriting, from songs I had written in my own time. And essentially, Rich heard the songs and it was Rich's idea to get the guys we'd been working with anyway to record these songs. Literally, the whole band formed around the songs. And ever since then, we've worked in lots of different ways. There's been new songs that were kind of added to the album at a later stage that were worked on by all of us. And there were songs that were started off by me and then got worked into the band a bit more, and there were songs that started off with the band and then I took away and finished off almost, I finished off the lyric or whatever. So, we're quite flexible in the way that we work.
And you're working on a second album now?
Yeah. It's... I don't know. We're not going to rush it, because we still got a long way to go here with the album. The album's only been out a month here, so we want to give it a chance here in the states.
And what single are they pushing first?
Sewn, which is the same as the UK. I was surprised. I thought they might go for a more immediate single, something like 'Never Be Lonely.' Something a bit more poppy, because we are a pop band. We're great lovers of great pop music, and a lot of what we do is as akin to ABBA as it is more indie stuff. We're totally proud of that. But I think it's a good choice because it's a song which kind of stays with you.
It seems there was a huge lag between when the album came out in the UK and here, though. It's almost like 10 months or so?
Yeah, because if you have a lot of success, like we did in the UK... if you want to do America properly you have to be here. You have to work it. You have to be here a lot. And we wanted to do it properly, give it a proper chance, as opposed to getting our foot in both camps all the time. We went to Europe, we went to Japan, we went to Australia, we had the whole world to visit, rather than flying in and out and doing it that way. We really wanted to tour. I think what we do live really shows a different side of us, which is sometimes overlooked by the press.
And how many times have you been through America now?
This is our second proper tour, I suppose. First time we came was this time last year, and did an L.A. show and a New York show. And then we came back and toured with The Fray, and did a pretty full-on support tour with them. So, this is our third time over here, but every time we've been here longer. You know what I mean? We seem to be covering more ground. This is definitely the biggest tour. Seven weeks over here is a long time for us.
And what's it like going from having such success in the UK, to now being the 'Who are they again that's opening up for...?' Is that humbling for you?
It's humbling, and it's quite hard, actually. But, to tell the truth, it's not that long ago that we were playing these sized, crusty venues in the UK. So, it's not that long ago. We've only just started playing 5,000-6000 capacity places in the UK. That's new to us now, so it's not that long ago that we were being beaten down, so if we're getting beaten down again we don't mind (laughs).
And is there a lot of camaraderie between the UK bands that are all popping over here, what with Arctic Monkeys and the rest?
There's lots. We don't really get to see them very much, but we do hang out with other bands. The boys from The Kooks are really nice guys, you just don't get to see them very much, because everyone's working. Everyone's trying to do interviews and you don't bump into each other that much. The one time when you do is maybe when you go to a festival, like South by Southwest of play festivals in the summer, you get to hang out with bands a bit more, which is really nice, actually. I like that.