The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - CAMERON ADAMS

Af­ter last year’s Met Ball Gala in New York, Florence Welch wound up at a pizza party. Oh, the party was held at Tay­lor Swift’s $20 mil­lion New York apart­ment. And Reese Wither­spoon, Lena Dun­ham and Spike Jonze were also there.

Along with a slice of pizza, Welch was nurs­ing a freshly bro­ken heart.

“I’d been talk­ing to Spike Jonze about re­la­tion­ships,” Welch re­calls. “Tay­lor said, ‘Come over here, tell me all about it’. I ended up telling her about my re­la­tion­ship un­til five in the morn­ing. And she gave me some re­ally good ad­vice.

“She’s re­ally good at re­la­tion­ship ad­vice, as you can imag­ine she would be. She’s very clever. She made some re­ally good points.”

Swift and Welch bonded in what was the English­woman’s be­lated gap year. Af­ter two Florence + The Ma­chine al­bums Lungs (2009) and Cer­e­mo­ni­als ( 2011) prompted big sales (five mil­lion-plus com­bined) and heavy tour­ing, Welch knew it was time to de­com­press.

The mu­si­cian de­camped to Los An­ge­les for a lost week­end with band­mate and co-writer Is­abella Sum­mers. That week­end ended up last­ing most of 2014, in­volv­ing hard par­ty­ing, heavy drink­ing and LA ex­plo­rations sound­tracked by Neil Young records.

Welch, 28, says the year also in­volved a break­down, but knows that word in­stantly cre­ates head­lines.

“I don’t know what I’d clas­sify it as; I know ‘break­down’ gets thrown around a lot. It was a con­fus­ing time. There were real highs and with that came the low.”

2014 was the first time in years Welch wasn’t liv­ing life ac­cord­ing to a sched­ule.

“I’d come off ba­si­cally a five-year tour that started when I was 21,” she says. “I was strug­gling to fig­ure out who I wanted to be out­side of that. When you’ve per­formed and given so much and it’s been up, up, up con­stantly, you never re­ally have to face your­self.

“You don’t re­ally get a chance to grow up, ei­ther. I had to face my­self and some of the things I was deal­ing with ... is that a break­down?”

Welch’s orig­i­nal plan for her year off was to write a third al­bum with­out the pres­sures of tour­ing to con­tend with.

“I thought, I’m go­ing to have this nice life, maybe have a re­la­tion­ship, maybe I’ll party be­cause I don’t have any work ...

“For some rea­son I couldn’t make it work. I re­alised I’d lit­er­ally been swept up at the age of 21. S---, maybe I need to fig­ure out how to be a hu­man!”

She did get some songs writ­ten, so went to meet a po­ten­tial pro­ducer, Markus Dravs, who pro­duced the first two Mum­ford & Sons records.

“We’d never re­ally hung out,” Welch says of Dravs. “I was a f---ing mess when we met to talk about him mak­ing the record. I was all over the place.

“The songs – some were like Cer­e­mo­ni­als, some were to­tally bats---, some were very in­ti­mate.

“Markus said, ‘This is a big mess, come in and do a trial run’.

“So I went into the stu­dio, he shut the door and said, ‘OK, we’re go­ing to make the record now!’ If you want to know what a pro­ducer does, that’s what they do – he tricked me into mak­ing the record.”

The re­sul­tant third Florence + The Ma­chine al­bum, How Big, How Blue, How Beau­ti­ful, lacks a

re­cur­ring Cer­e­mo­ni­als theme: Dravs banned Welch from writ­ing wa­ter ref­er­ences. Florence + The Ma­chine, Splen­dour in the Grass, North By­ron Park­lands, July 25

Florence + The Ma­chine is back with a new at­ti­tude and a new al­bum.

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