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Everything Everything on how they've turned a 'nightmare' into pop music

Everything Everything on how they've turned a 'nightmare' into pop music
From BBC - October 21, 2017

"There's a tide and it's coming in now," sings Jonathan Higgs on Night Of The Long Knives, the latest single from Everything Everything.

The title refers to Hitler's bloody purge of the Nazi party in 1934, drawing a parallel to the rise of the right-wing politics in the last two years.

Only Higgs is not convinced that fascism will sweep everything in its path.

"They are saying it's a wave but it feels like a dribbling mouth," he sneers in the single, questioning whether the alt-right are a powerful force, or just a bunch of idiots.

"And the answer is both," he says.

"It depends how we react to it. If everyone [panics and] says, 'Oh God!' the next thing you know, they are the prime minister.

"But if you go, 'Ha, ha, ha, you are idiots,' well... they will probably still become prime minister. But you have to keep your head about it."

It's surprising to hear Higgs make a plea for perspective. After all, this is a man whose last album, Get To Heaven, was a "wretched and anxious" response to Islamic State militants, beheadings, mass shootings and political corruption.

"I was in a dark place," he told the BBC on its release. "I was essentially trying to inhabit the minds of the [extremists] and that's a really horrible thing to face."

Everything Everything's new album dials back on the paranoia and dread - partly because Higgs thinks the world has caught up with him.

"I am not less in that headspace, but I think everyone else is in it more," he says.

"But the album's a bit more abstract, a bit more personal. Away from politics and all that stuff, it's about the human relationships we all have."

The album is called A Fever Dream, a reference to the "surreal, nightmarish things happening, day after day" - especially the absurdity of modern politics.

It's there in Big Game, a pomposity-pricking parable about Donald Trump ("Even little children see through you"), and it's there in Run the Numbers, a song that explores Michael Gove's comment that "people in this country have had enough of experts".

"Is it the first song to be inspired by Michael Gove? Yes, and it should be the only one. Let's leave it at that."

Higgs is smart enough to be aware that he comes from a position of privilege, and his liberal views are out of step with the prevailing political climate.

There's a song on the album called Ivory Tower, where people threaten to "come and crush me in the Waitrose aisle". On the title track, he sings: "I hate the neighbours, they hate me too / The fear and the fury make me feel good."

"It's admitting that I sort of enjoy arguing," he explains. "I think we all do on some level. It's certainly popular."

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