Why four producers for one album?
It had been three years since Begin To Hope. I never expected that album to become so big and for it to take so long to get to a follow-up. I always thought I’d make an album every year. I figured if I was only going to get to do this once every few years, I wanted to get the most out of it and learn as much as possible.
So this was like a master class on how to make a pop record?
Yeah, pretty much!
You can just do it yourself now.
I’ll steal their secrets and go straight after their jobs!
How did you meet with Jeff Lynne?
Funnily enough I had no idea who he was. My label asked me to start thinking about what producers I’d want to work with. I’m not the kind of person who pays attention to who produces what. But a friend was playing the new Tom Petty album and I thought: hey, I like this. So I flipped it over and wrote down his name.
So you had never even heard ELO?
No! I just thought Tom Petty sounded nice. When I met with my label they asked me who I as a producer. So I pulled out my note and said ‘Jeff Lynne’. They all just silently looked at each other and I was like: what?
Is this just because Xanadu never made it across the Iron Curtain?
Wow, how to explain? It’s a movie about, um, roller-skating angels? ELO did the music.
That sounds pretty late ’70s! But no – I know people who grew up in foreign countries and know all sorts of pop culture stuff. It’s like how I’m a terrible speller.
But you can’t spell in Russian either, is what you’re saying?
No, not at all.
Is that why your new album title is so short?
I was originally calling it Far, Far Away, and I kept chopping it down.
Sounds a little sci-fi. What’s the thought behind the name?
One day it hit me that I was standing on a planet, rotating in space. I could feel the Earth spinning beneath my feet; I could feel that we are just shooting through space, and everything else is so far away. And,
if you travel far, you leave something far behind. It was one of those deep moments, like when you realise you’re going to die.
Yeah, that’s a big one.
But lately I’ve been calling it Fart.
Hey, it’s not set in stone!
I’m going to call up my label and yell, ‘Stop the presses!’ I’d love to see their faces then.
Far is available in stores.