For British rockers Editors, platinum status in their home country came at a creeping pace.
Debut album The Back Room dropped in July of last year in the U.K. but took six months to peak at No. 2. To get it there, the band inked a licensing deal with Sony BMG, toured perpetually and pounded British radio with single after single.
Though The Back Room came out stateside in March of this year and generated plenty of buzz, it might need even more muscle to crack the Top 10 here. Guitarist Chris Urbanowicz doesn't know whether he and his other three band mates have it in them.
"We've been working so hard for 18 months already, and we're just starting to get a little bit worn out - a little bit itching to get the creative juices flowing again," he said in a recent phone interview.
After jaunting through Europe, they're coming to America for a brief two-week tour. They play the 9:30 Club tonight. Then it's back overseas for another month or so, and back into the studio to start work on album No. 2. America might have to wait a while longer for an all-out Editors onslaught.
"The U.S. is something we're really keen on touring a lot more and focusing more on the next album," Urbanowicz said. "If we made any mistakes [with The Back Room], it's probably trying to get everywhere - tour as many places as we can instead of focusing on specific areas. It's done well for us - we've done pretty well everywhere, but at the time we feel pretty tired."
That's no surprise - the four musicians graduated from Stafford University in 2003, worked on their music careers by night and took up menial day jobs to make ends meet. Urbanowicz and drummer Ed Lay worked in a shoe store, and singer/guitarist Tom Smith and bassist Russell Leech worked in a call center. Major U.K. labels would send scouts (also known as A&R, short for Artists and Repertoire), but drug their feet on signing the band.
"It was very glamorous," Urbanowicz dead-panned. "I think that the one thing that most annoyed me was the fact that ... you'd do an important show in London the night before and there would be A&R kissing your [behind], and the next day there would be this 60-year-old woman berating you for bringing her the wrong shoe."
Needless to say, the boys built up plenty of angst, which they channeled into their songs. Some of the tracks are frantic, others more paced, but nearly all have Urbanowicz's distinct, soaring guitar work. One day, Urbanowicz turned on all his effects pedals at once as a joke and accidentally happened upon the processed sound he uses now. Occasionally, people mistake it for a synthesizer, he said.
"I kind of liked that - it wasn't that organic guitar sound," he said. "It was something a little different. ... It's more exciting than playing normal chords, normal guitar sounds and stuff."
In 2004, Editors signed with indie label Kitchenware, and released "Bullets," the first single off The Back Room in January of last year. The single's limited run sold out its first day - a promising sign. Editors took six months and toured nonstop, and when the album came out in July 2005, it promptly went gold. Around this time, they released three more singles: "Blood," "Munich" and "All Sparks."
While members of Editors were happy with The Back Room's success, they felt it could do better, and signed with Sony. Under the major label, they re-released "Blood," "Bullets" and "Munich," which pushed the band to platinum status.
"Radio wasn't getting it the first time," Urbanowicz said. "The next time we put [the album] to radio, people got on top of it a bit more. ... It kind of worked."
Though Editors members never had much of a problem releasing and re-releasing so many singles, Urbanowicz said his perception of the songs changes once they've hit mainstream radio.
"You send your singles out and they come back different," he said. "It's like sending little soldiers out to war. They're never the same when they come back."
Urbanowicz said he feels the difference when he plays the singles live. They could have cut more singles but decided against it, he said. "Fingers in the Factory," the song Editors usually closes shows with, was one likely prospect, but Urbanowicz wanted to keep it a delight for more hardcore fans, he said.
The band's first lengthy U.S. tour started at this spring's South by Southwest festival, lasted about seven weeks and ended with the Coachella festival. Writing on the road has never been one of the band's strong points, but they've put together two whole tunes they now play live and a few snatches of songs to come.
Urbanowicz acknowledges that it may be tough for Editors to recapture the same angst that fueled The Back Room. With a platinum album under their belts and a recent Mercury Prize nomination, they're no longer slaving away in the 9 to 5 sector. Still, he said he feels no pressure with the coming rehearsals and recording sessions.
"There's a lot of the new stuff floating around that's really, really good," he said. "We're going to have a lot more time to record it. A lot of people have asked me this. Maybe I should be feeling pressured, but I'm more excited than anything else."
Editors play the 9:30 Club, 815 V. St. N.W., tonight. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 202-393-0930 or visit 930.com. For more information about the band, go to editorsofficial.com.