Manchester trio Doves wrap their American tour this week, before heading off to play a string of summer festivals in the U.K. and Japan. The 2005 U.S. stint behind their epic, atmospheric Some Cities has solidified their status as a must-see live band.
“We’ve definitely gotten stronger since the last tour,” frontman and southpaw bassist Jimi Goodwin says of the entirely sold-out outing. “But it must all be word of mouth, to be honest. I think a lot of people are starting to find out that we’re really a different experience live than on a record.”
Not bad for a tour that nearly didn’t happen. Set to perform at Coachella in late April, Goodwin was diagnosed with laryngitis and prohibited from performing for three weeks. The band — Goodwin and twin brothers Jez (guitar) and Andy Williams (drums) — were forced to drop out and postpone its first headlining dates as well.
“Coachella was the worst,” says Goodwin, “because we couldn’t reschedule a whole festival — we’re not Coldplay. But they want us to play next year. And now I’ve got to watch myself — drink lots of water, be healthy. There’s temptation around every corner! But I can’t make a habit of going out and drinking with my friends anymore, because the gig is everything. I’m here for a reason, you know.”
If losing your voice has an up side, it’s the downtime the band’s been forced to give themselves between dates. “We’ve always been dead busy, but this time we had a day off in New York,” says Goodwin. “And it was spring, just nice and warm. I was wandering around the streets, hunkering about, and I passed the Empire State Building. ‘Oh, it’s there — shit!’ It was winking at me, so I had to go on up. It was quite beautiful. I should get laryngitis more often.”
Though they have more of a cult following in America, Doves are huge in the U.K. Like their 2002 breakthrough, The Last Broadcast, Some Cities went straight to Number One on the British album chart, on the strength of lush songs such as “Snowden” and “Almost Forgot Myself,” and the majestic power pop of “Black and White Town” and the title track. “We’ve got massive heads!” Jez Williams jokes of their success. “Can’t get out of the room.”
Firmly rooted in Manchester — birthplace of Joy Division, the Stone Roses and the Smiths — Goodwin has collaborated with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr. Doves even gained their first major exposure through Rob Gretton, formerly Joy Division’s manager. (Gretton, like Ian Curtis, died prematurely: in 1999, of a heart attack when only forty-six.) But even with such a longstanding local scene behind them, don’t expect the band to confess to a Mancunian sound. “We could have made that album without coming from Manchester,” says Goodwin. “It’s not a defining thing for us. It’s a fucking big world out there.”
As for superstars Coldplay, who Doves have been compared to in the press, Goodwin shrugs, “They’re nice kids. But I don’t think you can compare us musically.”
Doves’ North American tour wraps tomorrow night at Los Angeles’ Wiltern LG. They will return for another string of dates in September.