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Nothing But Thieves On ‘Broken Machine’, Touring Aus & Coming Into Their Own As Songwriters

Written by Sarah Bellamy on September 4, 2017

It’s been a busy year for Essex’s Nothing But Thieves. Fresh off the back of their UK and Europe tour supporting MUSE, the band are set to release their second full-length Broken Machine on September 8th. Aussie fans are also in luck, as the 5-piece have just announced a down under tour alongside support dates with MUSE this December. We caught up with frontman Conor Mason to talk about his favourite songs from the album, working with Mike Crossey, and what fans can expect from the Australia tour.

Music Feeds: You’re about to release your second album Broken Machine. Who were your main influences when creating the songs on the album?

Conor Mason: That’s a good question, actually. The last album it was a bunch of bands, but I’d say this album is literally just us. We got ourselves into a position as artists where we can create off our sole intention. I think last time we definitely were under the influence of other bands because we were learning – we were so young we didn’t really know what we were doing. This time around it’s definitely more us.

MF: That’s fantastic. So, I’m guessing you must have approached the creation of this record differently to your debut?

CM: Yeah, we did. We wrote the first album over three or four years, a lot of it in Dom’s garage. Over that time, we changed so much that the songs sounded very different from when we’d first started writing. Whereas this album was nine months to a year on the road. We wrote a lot of it on the tour bus so it’s definitely like, that time in our lives. It’s just cool, it’s like a memory now rather than a daydream like the first album was.

MF: You worked with Mike Crossey [1975, Arctic Monkeys] on this new album. What was that like?

CM: It was really great! We met him in LA when we were doing Conan O’Brien and he just came in to hang out. It was great how friendly he was. He was the right guy – he just got us, he just believed in the songs. It didn’t seem like he was doing it for himself, it was like he was doing it for the songs, for us. He just saw the potential; it was really cool. He’s really just a friendly Irish guy, he’s cool.

MF: So it was a pretty natural process then?

CM: Yeah, it was like – we knew we wanted to record an album, and we looked at lists of producers that we’ve known for ages and liked for ages. It’s like you kind of apply for it in a weird way [laughs]. Then we met Crossey and he just stood out as the one we wanted to work with the most, you know? It just worked, it just clicked instantly. It was amazing, really fun, and he made us feel at home.

MF: What’s your favourite song on Broken Machine?

CM: Hm, that’s tough, that’s really tough.

MF: Okay, how about a top 3?

CM: Top three, okay! I really like ‘I’m Not Made By Design’, I’ve always liked that. I love a song called ‘Particles’, and another song called ‘I Was Just A Kid’, which is the opener. But then again I love all of them for different reasons. I guess those three I’d say I’d listen to if I was just a fan of us.

MF: Yeah, I imagine it would be quite tricky to choose – they’re almost all like your children.

CM: Yeah, it is actually. You sort of catch that, as if they become children. You love them but you also, you get annoyed by them. Like, you’ve got to release them out there [laughs].

MF: There’s a photo that was posted to Instagram of you guys sitting with your instruments in a room, and it’s causing some speculation about a new music video. Is there any validity to that rumour?

CM: I haven’t seen that one yet, could you describe it?

MF: It’s a black and white one and you guys are all sitting around on your amps with your instruments.

CM: Oh, okay cool, yeah! It’s not a new music video, we’re just doing some more live videos for people to enjoy. I’m not sure if I’m really supposed to say that, but I’ve said it anyway, it’s not a big deal. We’re just trying to do some live videos for people to enjoy off the new album.

MF: You’ve released three singles so far from the upcoming album, do you have any plans to release another one? And if so, which song will it be?

CM: We’ll definitely release another one, and it’ll be just after the album comes out. We’re picking between two singles, so I can’t say which one it is yet [laughs]. But I think I have a good idea in mind. It’s probably going to be a rocker.

MF: Earlier this year you toured the UK and Europe with MUSE which must have been amazing! Was there a moment on that tour that particularly stands out to you?

CM: For sure it was when we played the O2 in London, just because I’d been there so many times as a kid, and recently. Just to be able to play that stage is incredible. It was a really big opportunity for us, to play to a home crowd of that many people, it makes us feel proud.

MF: This December will be your first time back in Australia since Splendour In The Grass last year. What can fans expect from your upcoming Aus tour with MUSE this year?

CM: Golly, I don’t even know what I’m expecting! We’ve only done a few arenas and we’ve done a lot of the round ones where you’re dumped in the middle of a circle-thing. These will be our first proper arena looking out to the audience shows, and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’ll be a new experience for me. It’ll be the same stuff, but we’ll be playing some new songs. The same high-energy shows.

MF: Is there anything down under that you’re particularly keen to see while you’re here? Any of the tourist attractions you’re looking to check out?

CM: Yeah, actually I always try to get out and have a walk around wherever I am. I think it’s really good for me. So I check each city and do some research. I try and do as much research as I can. Little things like, if there’s a cool vintage shop, nothing major because we don’t really have much time ever. But I definitely do some research to see what’s about and then spread my wings and walk about each place.

‘Broken Machine’ is out September 8th and Nothing But Thieves tour Australia this December. See details here.

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