British post-rock group Public Service Broadcasting have always used their music to weave together remarkable tales from all across the world, but their third studio album, Every Valley, released last month, tells a story much closer to home.
The record is inspired by the fall of the mining industry in Wales during the mid-20th century, and gives a voice to the working-class people who were affected during these turbulent times. Like all of the band’s previous albums, Every Valley uses snippets of old recordings, which are then combined with music to tell a story.
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter J. Willgoose, Esq. tells Young Post about the creative process behind the album, and how combining lots of different voices helped set the scene.
“If there’s one moment that sticks out I’d say it was having the Welsh choir. It was really nice to get those authentic Welsh voices on the album,” he says.
Willgoose hopes the album strikes a chord with the Welsh public.
“Lots of people from the valleys, or with mining in their family history, seem to be very affected by it,” he reveals. “It’s quite an emotional album for a lot of people — me included.”
Though the album documents the decline of an industry, Willgoose says the real theme was people.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to think it’s some vague history lesson,” he says. “It’s about a community that grew up around this coal industry, and then had it forcibly removed from them, and what came after... we’re still dealing with the aftermath. So, it’s a record about community, and what defines it when something integral is taken away from it.”
Willgoose’s approach to songwriting involves more than just jamming in a rehearsal space. For each album, he spends months researching and going through archives, like a journalist or historian.
Previous Public Service Broadcasting albums have explored the themes of the second world war and the space race, but Every Valley felt far more adventurous for the trio, which also includes Wrigglesworth on drums and JF Abraham on bass.
“We really branched out and used different materials,” Willgoose explains.
“This is the first time we’ve met people while we’ve been working, and worked with them on an album. I think in that sense, with Every Valley, we’re a lot closer to the subject matter, and a lot closer to the people and communities involved. And that makes it feel like a more personal record.”
Willgoose reveals he has already started researching ideas for a new album, but for now the band will focus on spending the rest of this year touring in Europe and the US.
Although no dates are currently scheduled for Hong Kong, Willgoose says they haven’t ruled out visiting the city.
“We’re looking at some dates early next year, but nothing’s confirmed yet. It feels like unfinished business after we had to cancel the last tour we’d planned there in early 2016, which was a real shame,” he admits.
“I hope we do get to see Hong Kong.”
Every Valley is out now.