Starsailor frontman James Walsh reckons the secret of their new album’s success was simple – they hit the pub when things got too stressful.

The indie band reunited back in 2015, but after a couple of years of playing old favourites the foursome felt it was time to try some new songs, resulting in fifth album All This Life.

“We were working with Richard McNamara and he’s got a residential studio,” explains James.

“That gave us the opportunity to focus 100% on the album rather than going home and refocusing when we came back the next day, so it was a 24 hour thing, apart from trips to the pub.

“I think that defused the intensity of writing these heavy lyrics and reflecting on difficult times in my life. Instead I could go to the pub to unwind and forget about it all for a while.”

The result offers a mix of familiar Starsailor trademarks, with big, emotive tunes and James’s distinctive, melancholy voice, and some new ideas, like the funkier Take A Little Time and Caught In The Middle or the electronics and explicit vocals of FIA.

It’s a new direction for a band best known for a morose, downbeat outlook.

“I don’t want to try and consciously try and write a fun song just to try and disprove an idea of myself or the band,” says James.

“Thankfully enough of the band’s catalogue over the years has been different, even if the lyrics are serious. Stuff like Silence Is Easy or Four To The Floor or Good Souls have a more uplifting message. I think a lot of it is to do with Alcoholic (an early single), that song was a blessing and a curse.

“It brought us a lot of success and is one of our most popular songs but it maybe characterised us as an extremely serious bunch of miserablists singing about alcoholic dads. It’s good to remind people there’s more to us than that.”

The band’s first album, Love Is Here was a huge hit, and suddenly the four friends from college were working with Phil Spector on their second record, getting into arguments in the music press with Oasis and touring the world.

By 2009, however, it was time for a break, and the group went on a six year long hiatus. Their return to live stages in 2015 was greeted warmly, but a new album was always going to prove the acid test for the revival.

“It’s always been more intense than touring,” says James.

“We don’t argue a lot, we get on very well as a band but you’re still trying to get four slightly different opinions on the same page. So there’s lots of little issues about what direction a song should go in. When you can survive that it’s the mark of a good band and we showed we have that.”

It isn’t just Starsailor that James writes for. He pens tunes for other acts, including recently writing a couple of songs for Louise Redknapp as she looks to re-start her pop career.

“I’ve been working with films a bit as well, and that’s good,” he says.

“It’s nice to step outside your own head for a while. I’m always writing about my experiences and emotions, so working with people like Louise or on a film, that’s drawing from someone else’s story or emotions. That means I can concentrate purely on the melody or the chords or the lyrics.”

Now the band can focus on the O2 ABC this weekend – and James expects a few young faces in the crowd.

“It’s weird that we see so many young people in the audience now,” he adds.

“I think a lot of our fans are fortysomethings who came to gigs years and years ago and now have teenagers they’re passing on the music to. It feels like it’s going full circle.”

Starsailor, O2 ABC, Sunday, £19.50, 7pm