Lightning Seeds are on the verge of releasing their first album in thirteen years, with “See You In The Stars” providing the follow-up to 2009 record, “Four Winds”, on October 14th. The record has so far spawned popular singles, “Sunshine”, “Walk Another Mile”, and “Emily Smiles”, and fans will be able to see the Liverpool band perform tracks, both new and old, live on their forthcoming UK tour.
We spoke to singer and songwriter, Ian Broudie, all about what to expect from the new album. We discuss the tour, the band’s beginnings, and the impact of Three Lions in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup. Ian also tells us about the Liverpool music scene, working with the likes of The Zutons, The Coral, Red Rum Club, and Jamie Webster, and there’s plenty more!
NC: It’s been 13 years since the last Lightning Seeds album, why was 2022 the right time to return?
IB: “The last album didn’t feel like a Lightning Seeds record, to be honest. I allowed myself to be talked into making what would have been a solo album a band album. Some people really like that record and I agree there are a few really good songs on it, but we didn’t really promote it or tour it. So this feels like the first Lightning Seeds album since 1999. I was going through a difficult time and it felt to me like the band had been relegated from the Premier League to the bottom of the Championship.
“To a degree, I lost focus. I started working with other bands in Liverpool, spending three or four years with the likes of The Coral, The Zutons and The Subways. But then when Riley (Ian’s son) started playing in the band I felt myself getting more into it again. I wanted him to feel what it was like to be in a really good band and it allowed me to focus. We were enjoying playing live and I wasn’t too bothered about recording. Then James Skelly offered to return the favour after I’d worked on some of The Coral’s new stuff, so I came up to Liverpool and spent two days finishing “Great To Be Alive”. I knew straight away it was a Lightning Seeds song.”
NC: What makes it a ‘Lightning Seeds song’ as opposed to the previous album?
IB: “I want the Lightning Seeds to always have positivity. Even if the lyrics are dark, the feel of the song is positive. Sometimes sad songs can elate you because there are many different ways to be positive. At first, I thought the verse lyrics sounded like such a ‘first world problem’ compared to everything that was going on. As the song progressed it started to resound with me and I just had this sense that it was great to be alive. From there, I started finishing the other songs and I knew I wanted to make an album.”
NC: How does the new album compare to the previous records, what can fans expect?
IB: “From a technical point of view, the other albums all differ from one another, and this is the same again. I wanted a lot of it to sound homemade, with just a couple of backing singers and leg tapping rather than drums in parts. But then I suppose on the other hand, ‘Emily Smiles’ could be on ‘Jollification’. So it’s the same but different, with the bittersweet Lightning Seeds theme. It’s quite a lyrical album and a personal album. There’s a song called ‘Green Eyes’ which I feel is a shadow of ‘Pure’, with a similar motif. I think it’s the end of that story lyrically. I also think this album is a gateway and I’ll want to make another one soon.”
NC: It’s common for bands to churn out new music on a regular basis nowadays. Have you learnt to be patient in that regard?
IB: “It’s a really bad idea on every front to have long gaps between releases and I think it’s just emotional reasons as to why I have done it. In the modern world with Spotify and algorithms, it’s much harder to come back and make an impact after a while away. It’s far better to have a continuous flow of music and with social media you’re constantly in touch with an audience. If you haven’t been there for ages it’s hard to see where you fit, and in the modern world it’s all about fitting.”
NC: What’s your favourite track from ‘See You In The Stars’?
IB: “I like ‘Emily Smiles’. I wrote it with Terry Hall and whenever we work together something great happens. We worked on a video and I like it even more now, which is strange because I’m not usually a fan of the videos. Also ‘Great To Be Alive’ is another personal favourite.”
NC: You’ll be back out on tour this year, what are your feelings ahead of the October / November run of dates?
IB: “We haven’t been able to play new songs for ages so that’ll be nice. We’ll obviously play all of the songs everyone wants to hear too and some we’ve not played in a while. We’ll be joined by Badly Drawn Boy. I love some of his stuff, he’s an eccentric like myself I suppose. I think we’ll compliment one another very well.”
NC: Is the hometown show the one you’ve got your eye on or are there other dates on the tour you’re particularly looking forward to?
IB: “We did a 25th anniversary ‘Jollification’ tour but it was booked in a funny way due to to the pandemic. We ended the tour three years after the hometown show and it was only a run of seven gigs, so it feels like ages since we played in Liverpool. I always love playing Manchester and London too, but you never know where will be your favourite on a tour. We’ve thrown in some smaller venues which I’m looking forward to. I used to watch bands at a small venue called Eric’s in Liverpool, such as The Ramones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Elvis Costello. I’ve always preferred these smaller shows and they can often surprise you.”
NC: The Liverpool music scene is thriving at the minute, with the likes of Jamie Webster and Red Rum Club enjoying breakthroughs to name just a couple. How close to the city’s music scene are you these days?
IB: “Funnily enough I actually know both of the artists you just mentioned. I’m actually talking about writing with Jamie. I couldn’t do anything on his last record because I was working on mine. I think he’s great, he’s a nice lad. We played together a couple of times but never worked on anything. With Red Rum Club, a couple of them came to record bits for my latest album. So if you hear a bit of trumpet it’s probably them.”
NC: It seems a supportive scene now, was it like that when the Lightning Seeds were emerging?
IB: “It was quite different in those days, it was very competitive when I was coming through. Nowadays, there seems to be lots of musicians who aren’t actually from Liverpool, whereas it used to be a place isolated from the rest of the country. That seems to have changed over the years. I think the influx of people from different areas has actually improved things and it’s a good time to be a musician there. Projects used to self-implode all the time but now they’re coming to fruition with enough of what makes Liverpool so great still shining through. It’s an evolving scene and music is important in the city. I didn’t notice until I moved away that talking about music all the time and having a big blend of people who loved music was not the norm everywhere!”
NC: How do you find the faceless element of music, in terms of the production compared to fronting the Lightning Seeds?
IB: “I never intended to be a singer. Even in a band, I saw myself as the Keith (Richards) not the Mick (Jagger). In the end, I couldn’t find anyone else to do it and because it was all homemade, it was easy for me to sing the lyrics. Even after ‘Pure’, I was still looking for a singer. By the time it was ‘Jollification’, it was just assumed I was the singer. We didn’t play live until the third album so that’s when the decision was made. But I was always a reluctant producer. I was just commenting on the Bunnymen music one day and saying what things they could change, and the manager called asking if I’d produce a few tracks and put the ideas into action. I thought at the time it was stepping over the line of a songwriter, and I thought being a producer was more like being a businessman.
“I said no, and he phoned an hour later saying ‘what if you didn’t produce it, but you had an alter ego from another dimension, and he produced it’. At 18 I thought this could be good and wouldn’t affect me, so we came up with the name ‘Kingbird’. That was a portal I stepped through which eventually led to the realisation that I was a songwriter and I wanted to start my own thing. I didn’t have a band or a label, but I had the song ‘Pure’ and it was like a miracle that saved my life. My wife was pregnant at the time and I wanted to make a better life for a young family. I played the track to a friend and he said that’s great, let’s press 200 and give it to Rough Trade to see if we can get it on the radio. 200 sold out, then another 200 sold out, and it spread across the country. It never charted high but still feels like one of our biggest hits.”
NC: The World Cup is just around the corner so I have to ask you about ‘Three Lions’. What is your relationship with that song like now, how do you feel about its success?
IB: “Grateful. I’ve had two miracles, ‘Pure’ and ‘Three Lions’. I’ve had a great relationship with ‘Pure’ and I’ve always been glad I wrote it. With ‘Three Lions’, I’ve been in and out of love with it. It doesn’t really affect Lightning Seeds, both sit separately which is a nice thing. The song feels like it has become everyone’s song, but somehow we wrote it. Now, it’s a pleasure to play. If we play that song in a set, we know we can’t play anything afterwards, even between competitions. A couple of years ago, when it had all the memes, a new generation discovered the song again. Maybe that’s had a slight knock-on effect with younger people finding us through Spotify, and with a mix of ages in the band it’s created quite a good vibe around it. I love it when people sing it, I’m hoping the team play well this Christmas and people are singing it again.”
NC: I read recently that football and music has always gone hand in hand for you, when did this begin?
IB: “I went to my first Anfield game with my dad and my uncle, and hearing the crowd sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and The Beatles ‘She Loves You’ amazed me. Everyone was singing and it was full of emotion, so the two fused together quite beautifully.”
NC: And finally, what does 2023 and beyond have in store for the band?
IB: “I’d definitely like to do another album quickly. My hope is that the Lightning Seeds return to the Premier League!”
You can pre-order “See You In The Stars” and get your hands on tickets to the Lightning Seeds October/November tour here https://lightningseeds.co.uk/.
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