For a long time, it seemed as if Doves were on a permanent hiatus. After releasing four albums that were met with much critical acclaim and commercial success, the beloved English alternative rock trio announced in 2010 that they were taking a break. In the decade since then, the members have been active with other projects, leaving fans to speculate that Doves would never reunite. Now, however, Doves announced that a new album, The Universal Want, will be released on September 11.
Actually, drummer/co-vocalist Andy Williams says, this reunion wasn’t such a sudden move, after all – it was more of a happy secret he and his bandmates have kept since they began working together again in 2017. “It was a really exciting time because nobody else knew,” he says of those early reunion days, calling from his home near Manchester, England. “Everyone was trying to keep it under wraps because we could have worked on three or four songs and had it not work out.”
Initially, Williams admits, they never even intended to reform Doves. He and his brother, guitarist Jez Williams, were working on a second album for their post-Doves band Black Rivers when they heard that bassist/guitarist/vocalist Jimi Goodwin (who was working on a second solo album) was staying nearby. “We said, ‘Do you want to pop over?’ We played him some stuff and he really liked it.”
Their old creative spark was soon reignited. “I guess we missed working together,” Williams says, “It happened very organically. Enough time had passed, and we felt we still had a good record in us. We missed each other, as well.” He adds that he also thinks that during the hiatus, he and the other members “came to really appreciate each other and what we brought to the table.”
In 2019, Doves fans got their first hint about what was happening when the band participated in a charity concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust, an event spearheaded by The Who singer Roger Daltrey. But even then, Doves members still didn’t officially confirm that they actually were back together in the studio. “We kept it to ourselves that we were making a new record, so there was no pressure,” Williams says. “It was quite a nice way of doing things, really.
“What was quite satisfying on this record is, we have a lot of stuff in the vault that we never managed to finish from years ago – songs where something’s just not quite right and we’ll put it down and forget about it,” Williams continues. “So we were listening back to a lot of stuff on old hard drives and going, ‘Wow, that was really good.’ So that was quite satisfying to put to bed, finally, a couple of songs that were bugging us over these years.”
As for the songs that they wrote from scratch since reforming, Williams says that their songwriting process has “no real rules. Somebody might have a riff or a title for a song or a snippet of music, or somebody might come with something fully finished. It changes from song to song with us.”
Fortunately, even though all three members are songwriters, Williams says this doesn’t lead to jealousy or other competitive conflict within the band. “There’s never any kind of egos involved, like, ‘This is my song,’” he says. “It’s all about how good the song is. It doesn’t matter who wrote it. It’s about making great music and working as a collective for the greater good of all of us.”
Williams says he has tried to incorporate this selfless songwriting approach since he first started writing music with his brother when they were growing up. They met Goodwin when they were all in school together, and it soon seemed obvious that they were destined to form a band together (though Williams jokes that his professional music career is a result of “Not being able to do anything else, really – unemployable!”).
Doves released their debut album, Lost Souls, in 2000, and immediately became one of the most successful bands on the British indie rock scene. Their next two albums – The Last Broadcast (2002) and Some Cities (2005) – went to #1 on the U.K. Albums Chart. With Kingdom of Rust (2009) they just barely missed achieving that same mark, peaking at #2 in the U.K. The band undertook successful tours across Europe and the U.S. – but behind the scenes, the members were burned out, leading them to announce their hiatus in 2010.
As for why Doves music has connected so strongly with listeners that they’ve stuck by the band even through a decade-long break, Williams speculates this is because “We try and keep an integrity in the music, and an emotion to it. I think people respond to that – people recognize that there’s an honesty. If one of us isn’t sure about a song, it doesn’t go in the album.”
Now, with The Universal Want finally on the way, Williams is grateful for fans’ loyalty: “We’re very lucky that people seem to want to hear new music by us.”
Pre-order the The Universal Want at this smartlink.