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New Turin Brakes album, Wide-Eyed Nowhere, out today

Today (Friday, September 16) sees Turin Brakes – Olly Knights, Gale Paridjanian, Rob Allum and Eddie Myer – release their ninth studio album, Wide-Eyed Nowhere, their first long-playing effort since 2018’s Invisible Storm.

Turin Brakes
Turin Brakes

Following a handful of festivals over the summer, the band, who formed in 1999, are to also undertake an extensive UK concert tour, starting in Shrewsbury on September 15, which is set to stop off at the Cambridge Junction early next year.

Wide-Eyed Nowhere was recorded in Olly’s garden studio in South West London in the summer of 2021, and it was from there that Olly spoke to the Cambridge Independent. “I spend probably an unhealthy amount of time in a very small, very dead-sounding room in the back of my garden,” he laughs.

Olly notes that the album was written “almost entirely before lockdown”. “We just got finished writing just before that all happened. So I feel like, in some ways, we kind of dodged a bullet because everyone put out a lockdown record after that, it seemed,” says Olly.

“And the songs don’t really know about the pandemic – although weirdly, in that strange way that sometimes happens, they sound like they’re about it, or they sound like they’re predicting it, but they really knew nothing about it. It was written before that time.”

Turin Brakes
Turin Brakes

That said, Olly observes: “I guess one of our subject matters that we often return to is that feeling of universal anxiety about the future of the planet, or the future of humanity, as a narrative spark for a lot of our songs, and so inevitably they end up often coming true – which is awful but also kind of makes you feel like at least the music you’re making is still in context even 20-plus years after starting.”

Some might think that the title Wide-Eyed Nowhere may be pandemic-related... “Yeah, I guess I can see how that might be, for sure,” says Olly. “I think in our case it’s more like there’s a poetic kind of language that we set up for ourselves with our first album [The Optimist LP], in a way, and even down to the artwork in our first album which my sister did a lot of... And inside the artwork for The Optimist LP, there’s an image called Welcome to Nowhere and there’s an illustration of a boy scout on an advertising hoarding on the side of a road – and it’s actually me posing as a boy scout. My sister drew me.

“So it’s a bit of an Easter egg in a way, and this is slightly in relation to that. I guess it’s an in-joke in some ways; it’s like we’re going back into this dream space, a kind of nothing space, but it’s being awake in an in-between moment – that’s what it’s referencing. It’s almost like there’s a huge space in that idea for dreams and for imaginings.”

Turin Brakes’ new album Wide-Eyed Nowhere
Turin Brakes’ new album Wide-Eyed Nowhere

Olly, who says he did more singing than talking as a child, notes that the relationship and the brotherhood between the band’s four members is now stronger than ever: “We realise now – it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time but we got very, very lucky with the chemistry of the band.

“Me and Gale have obviously known each other since we were tiny, but Rob and Ed, who came in just after we signed a record deal, they were completely random people at first glance for us because we didn’t know them.

“They just happened to be the musicians who were attainable at the beginning, and it could have easily been that we all went our separate ways after one album cycle. But amazingly it’s just got stronger and stronger. It’s been 22-odd years that we’ve been playing together, I think, and there’s something special that happens between us and it really shows live.”

Turin Brakes released the Mercury Prize-shortlisted album The Optimist LP in March 2001. It achieved gold status in the UK and was followed up by 2003’s Ether Song which featured the top five single Pain Killer (Summer Rain). The band have since racked up seven top 40 singles, seven top 40 albums and have sold more than a million records worldwide.

[Read more: Scott Matthews interview: ‘This record wouldn’t have been released but for Covid’, US ‘outsider’ Annie Dressner to play adopted hometown of Cambridge]

Olly, who says he and the others would love to perform in Japan as the band have yet to gig there, describes those wild early years, following the release of The Door EP in 1999, as like “taking off in a rocket – it was absolutely mental”, adding: “We definitely seemed to become one of the bigger bands in the UK for about five minutes, which was very exciting and very nerve-racking.

“I’m glad we experienced it but I think we’re a happier band now, with a bit less pressure and a bit more space to just be ourselves. I don’t think we were ever quite designed for that... We didn’t really have that desperate drive to be the next big thing.

“It’s a very specific kind of mindset that you need to survive that, I think, and we were always a bit happier being in our own niche, in our own world that we’d designed, and if people were into it that was great, but we weren’t desperately driven to become huge.

“So it was a relatively uncomfortable beginning, I’d say, when it seemed like we were going to be a big deal and it felt a bit like we were maybe not quite the right shape for that. So I think things have worked

out for the best.”

Turin Brakes
Turin Brakes

Wide-Eyed Nowhere is released today on CD and vinyl. The band will be appearing at the Junction’s J1 on Friday, March 10, 2023. For tickets, visit junction.co.uk. For more on Turin Brakes, go to turinbrakes.com.

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