As you mentioned earlier you've worked with Flood in the past, who's obviously been attached to some iconic rock albums such as Achtung Baby. What did you learn from him?
"Our record with Flood was a very electronic one - but it wasn't electronic in a hi-tech or up to date kind of way; he helped us use synthesisers, but try to play them like a band. Even though we were making these very synthetic sounds and making this cold, claustrophobic album, we did still want to play it in a room together - in many ways like we did the new album, just with vastly different-sounding instruments.
"And Flood obviously has a lot of experience making records: he's a master of dark rock music: whether it's electronic or more traditional. We also share a kind of cynical take on life [laughs]. When we first met Flood , he walked into the studio wearing a t-shirt that said 'The Beatles Are Shit', and I liked him straight away. Not so much that I think the Beatles are shit or otherwise, but I liked his take on life."
What kind of guitar did you use on the LP, and did that go some way to shaping the record at all?
"On this new record I played predominantly acoustic guitars. Another great thing about this studio we were in, is that there were four or five beautiful Gibson six-string acoustic guitars - one of them was 1915, another had Neil Young's name scratched into it… I don't know why old guitars sound better than new ones, they just do.
"The eccentric dude who owns the studio was talking to us one day about why he thinks a guitar that was made in the 1960s sounds better than a new one. And he believed that, when you cut down a tree - this is pretty hippy, by the way - when you cut down a tree to make a guitar, the wood takes twenty years to realise that it's dead and is no longer a tree, and only after that substantial amount of time does the wood know it has a new job and adjusts to being a guitar!"
That's an interesting theory!
"He'd drunk a lot of Doctor Pepper, that guy."
A lot of rock guitarists are into warping their sound with pedals - is that something you go for?
"That's more Justin’s area – when I'm writing I generally just play the acoustic guitar. That said, a pedal I always dig out is the Boss Digital Reverb pedal [RV-5], which has a modulated reverb setting which sounds like glass breaking, an icy, cold texture. That's been a recent addition to my live setting, as something that can be pulled out for dramatic effect."