We talk to Steve Firth from Embrace about the band's latest album and what it is like supporting Leeds United.
By Joe Williams
Last Updated: 27/03/14 6:43pm
After an eight-year break, Steve views Embrace's new album as their best sounding ever.
Despite his love for Leeds, the bass player from Halifax explains to us why he thinks football and music should remain separate.
If you're a fan of Embrace's anthemic tracks and huge choruses, the self-titled new album 'Embrace' certainly won't disappoint.
We caught up with Steve after the announcement of their new single and 10-date UK tour.
You're set to release your album and new single 'Follow You Home' at the end of April. What can fans expect from the new album?
We've spent a long time making it and over the last five years we've progressed. We didn't want to stand still and become known for an Embrace sound - it's a bit more current.
Our guitarist has been producing a lot of up-and-coming bands and I think that has rubbed off on him. We all like such a variation of music; it seeps in there (the album). It's been a progression for us, a good direction and it's certainly not sounding like dad rock or something from the past.
It's your first release in around eight years. Why did you guys take so much time out?
Because we'd done the England World Cup song, we'd been touring constantly and been promoting constantly. We felt like we needed some time off so we said we'd have six months off but everyone got busy doing other things.
It ended up being about two years before we could get us all back in a room together. Then we sat down and said if we are going to release another album we want it to be our best and we don't want to leave any stone unturned. We wanted it to be something we were proud of and unfortunately it just took us a long time.
Without a deadline or a record company breathing down your neck you go as far as you can and we feel we've created an album we are really proud of. Hopefully in a year's time we'll still think it's our best.
You've announced a 10-date UK tour in May. Is there anywhere you're particularly looking forward to performing?
I'm looking forward to them all, really. We've played at the Shepherd's Bush Empire a lot in the past and that's always a fantastic gig.
It's been seven years since you were on tour...
Yeah, we've done a few local gigs and some secret gigs for the hard-core fans and they've gone down really well and that's what excites you about getting back on the road.
My favourite gigs are between about 500-2000 capacity crowds and they are the gigs we're doing. It doesn't feel the same to me when you play a festival, it's not quite the same vibe. I love playing live and I can't wait to get on tour!
We know you're a big Leeds fan. Are there any ways you represent the club on stage or musically?
(Laughs) We wear Leeds shirts sometimes. But if you start wearing football shirts or become affiliated with a football club it used to wind everybody up that supported other teams and you'd end up with a nasty atmosphere in the crowd. It's best to keep football and music apart, I think.
How did you become a Leeds United fan?
Well, I'm from Halifax and you either support Leeds or Manchester United. It's a bit like that everywhere, your local team or Man United.
I grew up in the seventies and it was the end of the great team, like Billy Bremner, Allan Clarke, Joe Jordan, Peter Lorimer and I remember them vaguely. The time I used to go a lot was in the nineties and the glory days under Howard Wilkinson and David O'Leary.
Are there any particular games or seasons that live long in the memory?
I remember my favourite time ever was when Tony Yeboah came. I was a massive Yeboah fan. He was only there two seasons but he had one absolutely amazing season where we scored all those wonderful goals. That was exciting! All the Champions League games were fantastic, and then it all went wrong and turned into a depressing soap opera.
Who would you say your favourite ever Leeds player is?
It would probably be David Batty. I just like the workhorse type players, who've got skill but wear their heart on their sleeve. He's a Leeds lad and he was a really good player. I didn't get to see enough of the real greats from the seventies, so I'd say Batty.
Is there anyone in the footballing world you can't stand?
I don't like El Hadji Diouf for spitting. I don't like a lot of players: anyone who goes down too easy and anyone who cheats - I hate that side of football.
How do you think Brian McDermott's doing at Leeds and do you think the club should stick by him?
I've think you have to. All my friends that are Leeds fans got excited about Massimo Cellino coming in because I think they just want a change. I think everyone wants a big, rich, billionaire Sheikh to come in and buy hundreds of players.
Things aren't going well at the moment, but I don't like changing managers and I think clubs do it far too often. You've got to give people time.
Every time we get a decent player we sell them, so what can you do? We are a selling club now. We're in debt, we're losing a million a month, and it's tough. I don't see how changing a manager is going to change things, there's no money.
Massimo Cellino's takeover has hit the rocks. Do you think that's a good thing or would you like to see him at the club?
I don't think he is going to be the answer to the problem but my mates who go down on a regular basis say the general vibe is that he would be welcome. I think he is probably a cool bloke who they identify with, but I don't think he has the sort of spending power we need.
Do you think the current squad is strong enough for promotion?
No, I don't. I think if we went up we'd come straight back down. I think Leicester's is good enough to survive but I can't imagine Burnley surviving.
Leeds have got a long way to go. The team I saw three or four years ago with Beckford, Becchio and Snodgrass was almost good enough, but it still wouldn't have done well in the Premier League - there's a gulf in class.
I think we should try to survive this season and then we can start afresh next season when all the soap opera stuff has died down. Hopefully there are a few good young players coming through.
You can hear more from Steve in his interview with Sky Sports News Radio via the Soundcloud player below.
Embrace release new album 'Embrace' on April 28, 2014. Tickets for the band's first tour in seven years are on sale now at www.embrace.co.uk