After spending half his lifetime in the music industry, you could almost forgive The Magic Numbers’ Romeo Stodart of being a little exhausted, bitter… grumpy, even.
Yet, chatting to Clash about the band’s forthcoming studio album, Romeo remains at his genial best. An ever-joyous source of musical wisdom, the singer has just helped seal off sessions on the group’s new LP ‘ALIAS’ with preview cut ‘Roy Orbison’ causing no end of excitement amongst fans.
“We’ve got our own studio and it’s really liberating to have your own space because you can work in whichever way you want,” he explains. “Sometimes when you feel inspired you can just go in and start work on it – come back to things leisurely and do things when you want. I really enjoyed making it.”
Treating songwriting as a craft, Stodart tries to work each day, stockpiling material that he edits or jettisons as he sees fit. When it comes to recording, though, The Magic Numbers work very much as a band.
“I did kind of say that I didn’t want it to be this open-ended thing, where you would waltz in every now and again… because then you’ve got no enthusiasm levels and the drive gets a bit crazy,” he insists. “So there were set things like going in and tracking all together as a band, and getting the bones of it down. Then just trying to think of directions.”
‘ALIAS’ seems to find the band battling two identities. ‘Roy Orbison’ is a languid, classically styled ballad with Gita Harcourt (Ed’s wife) stepping in to work on the string arrangement. New cut ‘Shot In The Dark’, though, is a visceral (by their standards) rocker – something far more in keeping with The Magic Numbers live experience.
“There are two aspects of the record in that it’s the closest to what we are like live in terms of catching that energy and I guess rock out more,” Romeo says. “It’s got that sort of guitar-based kind of thing. The other side to the record is more like the track ‘Roy Orbison’, which is more orchestral and, I guess, classic sounding.”
Premiering today (May 6th) on Clash, ‘Shot In The Dark’ is a raucous return, in thrall to the electricity of Neil Young & Crazy Horse. “It was more of a band thing in the studio,” Stodart continues. “I write a lot, just on acoustic guitar or piano. I rarely ever write on electric guitar. But then when I get in the room with everybody, I know that this one’s going to feel like it needs energy.”
“I remember playing it to everyone in the studio more than actually writing it,” the songwriter muses. “I guess, lyrically, it’s battling with your inner demons, as it were. I guess the lyric is, there’s an uncertainty within yourself about how your life’s going to pan out, so I guess we’re all taking a shot in the dark. That’s the outlook. It’s kind of like an internal monologue, sung to me. I’m really pleased how it turned out.”
A centerpiece of ‘ALIAS’, ‘Shot In The Dark’ and ‘Roy Orbison’ represent twin poles in the band’s psyche, twin influences on their music. “There are other elements to this album as well, there’s a real rhythmic thing, lots of interesting sounds,” he says. “I would hope that people would just listen through to the whole thing in this day and age, when no one listens to the whole thing anymore! It’s a journey, definitely, I think, this one.”
The Magic Numbers are set to release new album ‘ALIAS’ on August 18th. New single ‘Shot In The Dark’ will be released on June 23rd – stream it first on Clash below...
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The Magic Numbers have confirmed the following shows:
10 Glasgow Garage
11 Liverpool East Village Arts Club
12 Manchester Academy 2
13 Leeds Met Uni
15 Sheffield Leadmill
16 Birmingham Library Institute
17 Bristol Bierkeller
20 Cambridge Junction
21 Oxford O2 Academy 2
23 Brighton St Georges Church
24 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
25 London Forum
Photo Credit: Steve Gullick