UNKLE return with their third album, WAR STORIES, a collection of desert songs due out in North America July 24 on James Lavelle’s new Surrender All label, marketed and sold by Red Ink, a division of RED Distribution. Co-produced by UNKLE and Queens Of The Stone Age producer Chris Goss, War Stories marries UNKLE’s trademark sound with traditional rock influences to stunning effect.
Like its critically acclaimed predecessors Psyence Fiction and Never, Never, Land, there are a host of guest vocalists that appear on this album including Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), The Duke Spirit, 3D (Massive Attack), Autolux, Gavin Clark (Clayhill) and long time cohort Richard File. James Lavelle makes his vocal debut on this album, singing on “Hold My Hand” as well as dueting with Richard File on “Morning Rage.” Rock icon Ian Astbury of The Cult lends his world-weary drawl to “Burn My Shadow,” the first single to be taken from War Stories. Built on the pulsating, insistent beats for which UNKLE are known, it ebbs and flows between foreboding and abrasiveness.
In a marked departure from the previous two albums, most of the instrumentation on War Stories is played live. UNKLE enlisted a variety of players to contribute: Jeordie White aka Twiggy Ramirez lends his bass playing skills to “Burn My Shadow”; Psychonauts’ Pablo Clements plays synth on “Twilight,” “Morning Rage” and “Restless”; Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws contributes guitar riffs to “Broken”; Eagles of Death Metal’s David Catching also plays guitar on songs “Hold My Hand,” “Morning Rage” and “Tired Of Sleeping”; and producer Chris Goss adds his various musical talents (guitar, synth, bass, organ) to many songs throughout album. There are also full band collaborations from Autolux and The Duke Spirit.
War Stories was recorded in the Joshua Tree desert outside Los Angeles, CA at the Rancho de la Luna studio (home to The Desert Sessions recordings from the likes of PJ Harvey, Nick Oliveri, Josh Freese and many others) and in London at James Lavelle’s new Surrender Sounds studio. The album comprises of fourteen tracks of epic proportions.
The War Stories packaging and artwork features a stunning set of specially commissioned paintings by 3D (Massive Attack). This is the first time he has embarked on such a venture. The two-CD limited edition will contain an instrumental version of the album and a gorgeous 50-page booklet. Meanwhile the main album will have a 32-page booklet, both of which will contain photographs taken in Joshua Tree by Will Bankhead while the main portrait photography is by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones. The booklets were designed by Ben Drury. Will and Ben were the visual creative team behind Mo’ Wax and have also collaborated on major campaigns for Nike, Answer and All Tomorrow’s Parties.
The label is part of the Surrender All stable that connects James Lavelle’s famously broad range of interests in music, fashion and art through one independently run axis. Surrender All is the record label, which will be a home for exciting new talent, whatever its musical persuasion, with the aim to push boundaries in the same way that Mo Wax did. James has also set up the Surrender clothing line and the Surrender Sound studio in London.
UNKLE will spend this summer touring major festivals throughout the U.K., Europe and Japan including the Montreux Jazz Festival, Reading and Leeds. This fall they will tour America for the first time ever as a full band; it promises to be an audiovisual experience not to be forgotten. North American dates will be announced at a later time.