It’s finally time Elevens, Area 11 are back and they’ve got a brand new, full length, studio album coming out later this year. I sat down this week with Sparkles* from the band to discuss the focus of this new album, what we should expect from their 2015 tour, crowd funding and what the band have learnt since recording All The Lights in the Sky.

So, earlier today you announced that you’re launching preorders for Area 11‘s next full length album. Going into working on this album, what did you want the core of the new record to be? What was the focus of the new album?

Towards the end of recording our first album, All The Lights In The Sky, particularly when finishing tracks such as Dream & Reality and Homunculus, we began to feel that that we had given all we could give in in terms of writing about anime. As much as we loved exploring that universe both lyrically and sonically, there was so much more ground we wanted to cover. We tested the water with our EP Underline, which people responded to very positively, signalling to us that it was time to move on conceptually. So I guess the main goal of this record was to continue that trend, and write a more personal album. I felt that although one of the strengths of ATLITS was it’s variety, I wanted to try and create more of a feeling of consistency on the second album. There are a lot of different elements to this record, but I wanted it to be one single piece of art rather than a selection of eclectic singles. It’s a concept album, all the tracks flow into each other. Which isn’t to say there won’t be singles, just that everything has it’s place in a whole. Stylistically, it’ll be heavier and darker, but still uplifting.

You’ve talked about liking the idea of crowd funding development of this next album. What state is the album currently in? Would you be happy to release the album in it’s current state if crowd funding wasn’t successful and why did you feel having an album in this state was important before starting crowdfunding?

Crowd funding has it’s strengths and weaknesses. One of the big weaknesses is the element of uncertainty. We wanted to remove that from this project. This album will be made, regardless of how successful this campaign is. We’ve written all the songs, and even started tracking some of it. If the crowd funding goes well, it means we can dedicate a lot more time (and money) into the promotion, on things like music videos, art etc. Essentially, this record isn’t just a concept and a promise, it already exists. Our fans are going to take a great album and make it incredible, that’s what we hope (and past experience gives us confidence!). We have the best fans, so passionate and connected to what we’re doing.

You’re doing another UK tour starting in July this year. How large is the tour planned to be compared to your last tour and are fans likely to hear tracks from the new record there early?

It’s longer than the Ichi Tour, but shorter than the Ni Tour; 7 UK cities at the start of the month. We’ll be testing out a lot of new material on this run, it’s highly likely you’ll hear new music if you come down to a gig!

Considering your new album isn’t due out until November, what can Area 11 fans expect to fill the coming months running up to its release?

Although we’ve not finalised our plans 100%, we will be releasing singles and promotional material throughout the next few months. Again, the extent of this is down to the potential success of the crowd funding. I’m sure there’ll be lots of new stuff to keep everyone excited!

Are there currently any tracks on the new record that you think are going to surprise long time fans?

I think our fans have a good idea of what we’re doing on this record because of how our style evolved on Underline. This takes what we began there and develops it further. This is certainly the same band, but we’ve grown up a bit, learnt a lot, and we’re getting closer to our ideal sound. All artists are aware that you always fall short of what you actually want to achieve, but you should always be striving to create something as close to your vision as you can. I can’t talk specifics at the moment because the tracks aren’t 100% locked and don’t have final names, but I imagine some people will be pleasantly surprised.

How has the atmosphere been in the band working on this new album? Was there a specific moment you and the rest of the band got particularly excited about what you were creating?

When we wrote ATLITS, it was very fragmented. It was written over a couple of years, in different places and different mindsets. This record was all written from February to May of this year in one big, concentrated writing session. The four of us have been isolated in Italy for the first half of this year, away from the usual daily distractions. It’s been a really different experience, and certainly it has been difficult at times, but in overall, it’s been incredibly fun and satisfying. Living and working together in such tight confines has allowed us to give 200% to this album, and I think that’ll be evident on the record. But to address your question, because it’s been so intense for so long, I don’t think we’ve had any big ‘woah, that’s awesome!!’ moments, because we’re constantly in the eye of the storm. You can’t get too excited because it’s all the time. The atmosphere has been incredible though, we’ve connected as musicians and friends in a way I’m not sure we ever have before.

Lastly, do you think you learnt anything working on All The Lights in the Sky that has particularly influenced how you’re looking at the new album? Anything you’d like to make sure you don’t repeat going forward?

Other than progressing from the anime-centric world, I think we just want to make music that’s true to our vision, not to what we think is expected. This is the record we want to make, not the one we feel we “need to”. I believe that will make better art, but I guess we won’t know until November!