A warm Embrace...after eight years

EMBRACE guitarist Richard McNamara has happily helmed the band's comeback album, but he's not sure he'll ever produce the group again - as his brother Danny drove him mad making this one.

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Embrace will play material from their first album in eight years at the O2 Academy next Friday
Embrace will play material from their first album in eight years at the O2 Academy next Friday

The brothers have been at the heart of Embrace since the band formed in the early 90s, and have overseen their comeback with a new self-titled album, their first record in eight years.

Richard produced it at his home studio in Halifax, and admits it was an interesting experience…

"I don't think I'll do the next Embrace record because of how hard this one was," he says, wryly.

"The hardest part of it was working with Danny. I don't know if it's because we're brothers or if it's just the way he is, because he's insecure about things - we'd have to double check everything and get everything right for him to give the right performance.

"I don't want to go through that again - although after we've toured I'll probably change my mind."

That tour, which includes a date at the O2 Academy a week on Friday sees the band back after years away, during which time Richard focused on producing new bands.

Those production jobs had a big influence on the guitarist, who thought the fivesome needed a break after 2006's This New Day, a record that was possibly the band's most commercial offering ever.

This time they've blended the euphoric choruses of old with more electronic influences.

"We were doing things for the wrong reasons, and it wasn't exciting anymore," he says.

"What was rejuvenating was being with these young bands, just being in a room with these young guys and gals who've got a really singular vision of what they want to do, and it'd be love it or hate it stuff.

"We fed that back into Embrace - normally we'd talk our way round songs and philosophise about them, and this time it was 'If I don't like it, it's not going on'.

"If you compromise all the time, then you get to the end of the album and go 'that's rubbish'."

That meant the band was piling up loads of ideas, but going for quality rather than quantity.

"We had four moments where we thought the album was finished, then decided to have another go at writing a song," adds the guitarist.

"Then we'd go, 'Oh, that one needs to go on the album too, it's too good to leave off'.

"Then we'd go back in again and work more. It was like we'd set a deadline but we'd been away so long that it didn't matter."

That means they'll be rolling out several new songs on their upcoming tour, alongside plenty of old favorites, from early Britpop smashes like All You Good Good People to the more recent radio-friendly likes of Nature's Law.

There's one tune Richard's always had mixed views on, though.

"I've never been a fan of Come Back To What You Know," he admits. "There's always a point on the tour when we suggest not doing it, but Danny loves it.

"There was a gig, I think in Glasgow, where we had to relearn it for the encore.

"I was trying to remember the chords as we went along, and during the quiet bit I was practicing the guitar solo.

"But it went down so well I thought 'Get over yourself mate, just play it'."

That's another reason for Richard to have a fondness for Glasgow, not that he needs any encouragement regarding the city.

"We always like to start the tours in Scotland because the shows are epic," he says.

"When you're going onstage in Glasgow you always have to take a little breath because you want to experience it all, you don't want to miss any of it."

l Embrace, O2 Academy, Friday May 16, 7pm, £19.50

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