DJ Ron Slomowicz: After a greatest hits album and a covers album, what was the inspiration to start working on Nightbird?
Vince Clarke: We hadn't written an album together for four years and we did the cover songs album as a bit of a side project. It was just something for a bit of a laugh and we didn't really take it that seriously. We felt it was the right time to get together again and start writing, because there's no more joy and satisfaction to be had than to be writing your own record.
RS: What were the songwriting sessions like? How do you and Andy collaborate?
Vince Clarke: We've kind of always worked the same way. I was living in New York at the time and Andy came over for six weeks. We sit down in a room with a guitar and a tape recorder and I'll maybe work out some kind of chord formation and Andy will sing some kind of melody . We work small song sections like eight-bar or four-bar sections. Once we've got all these bits together and recorded on to a micro cassette recorder, I'll try and piece the bits together. This section here could work as a chorus or this bit could work as a bridge and we'd put the bits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Once that's done and we have the melody established, Andy will go away and work more on detailed lyrics and I'll go away and start doing the melodic instrumental arrangements.
RS: Was there a song on the album that stood-out as a challenge?
Vince Clarke: All of them are a challenge I guess, because there's no style that's set down when we make the demos. They're done with an acoustic guitar, so it's quite open. This time round we were working also with a programmer who was based in London called Jon Collyer. We, Andy, Jon and myself all had the same studio setup and we were exchanging ideas over the internet. I'd come up with a bass line or a rhythm section, Jon would come back with something else to add to the track and Andy might come forward with an mp3 of a harmony idea. We kind of built the songs up in cyberspace. Once we had the arrangements established we got together in London to mix the record.
RS: "Don't Say You Love Me" keeps hitting me every time I listen to the album. Is there a special story behind this song?
Vince Clarke: That was one of the song that we wrote very early in the writing process. That's one of the songs that actually changed time signatures, because it was quite a straightforward 4/4 time base and then John had the idea of waltzing-up it up a little bit, so that changed it quite drastically. That song really did change over the process of the writing and the process of programming and everything, so that was quite interesting.
RS: Speaking about programming, are you working in ProTools or Logic?
Vince Clarke: We're all using Logic actually. I've just recently started using Logic because I moved to America and I couldn't bring my studio over. So this time round I had to sit down and actually work and learn how to use Logic. It forced me to read manuals, which I hate. <laughing>
RS: We just went through that ourselves. So you're Mac-based, I'm assuming?
Vince Clarke: Yes, I am.
RS: Why did you move over to New York?
Vince Clarke: I got married to an American girl.