Collapsing Cities album 'perfect'

It's been four years since Collapsing Cities released the debut album that took them all the way to the top of the pops in the UK.

Since then, rumours of a follow up have become the stuff of urban legends, but the Auckland four-piece officially have their second album firmly in hand ahead of its release next week.

"I'm beginning to think one of the main reasons to produce a physical CD of your work, rather than just downloads, is just so that I can hold it," says guitarist James Brennan.

"It's not just a series of emails any more, it's not just some files on the computer, it's a real thing."

Strangers Again is the result of four years' work from the outfit, slowed down by a struggle to get back to a normal life after a ride overseas and a sense of perfectionism. But singer Steve Mathieson says the wait served the album well, with more time to write the perfect set of songs. 

"You have to keep going until you've got 10 songs that you are all really proud of.  And we are all pretty meticulous and pretty impossible to please; sometimes it can be a bit of a warzone.

"And England probably did burn us out a little bit, we probably didn't realise it."

After the release of album number one, Elixir Always, the band took their brand of "Prozac pop" to the UK, where they were heralded by the likes of NME and The Guardian.

But Mathieson says it was a lesson that proved the rock & roll lifestyle isn't all glamour and excitement.

"It was like the best time of your life and the worst time of your life...a nine out of ten and two out of ten.

"A classic example is we played Club NME on the Friday, Leeds and Redding [Festivals] Thursday, Friday, Saturday and we thought 'woah this is exciting, this is what you dram about when you are 14'.  Then on the Wednesday we went to the Midlands, and we played to just a girlfriend of the band [we were playing with].  

"But that's just the music industry.  You can't rest on your laurels, and you can't get too excited about stuff."

The band tried to ignore the pressure to work off a blueprint of the first album on this one. 

"I think at first, for me, I was trying to pander a little bit and write that '[BBC] Radio One hit', but then I think you get that out of your head.  The moment you start doing that, you just start writing crap," says Mathieson.

Now though, with a new album in hand, Collapsing Cities are tackling a new challenge - re-learning what it takes to play live after almost disappearing from the touring circuit.

"It's been strange - we played one show last year, and the year previously it was maybe a handful.  It kind of feels like that was some other guy doing that  and I've been doing so many other things with my life that it feels strange to think 'I've got to go up on stage in a couple of weeks, and perform playing what? The guitar?'," laughs Brennan.

"[But] through sheer terror of playing to people, I'm sure the energy won't be lacking."

Auckland Now