On November 1 in the U.S. (October 31 in the U.K., which is a decidedly more fitting date, we must add) Florence and the Machine will return with Ceremonials, the bewitching, ethereal follow-up to their breakout Lungs album . And like that debut disc, the new one finds frontwoman/mastermind Florence Welch drawing from a grab bag of influences, both musical and lyrical, only pushed to the nth degree.
To wit, the first two songs released from the album — “What the Water Gave Me” and “Shake It Off” — take their inspiration from the paintings of Frida Kahlo, the death of writer Virginia Woolf and a rather blistering hangover, to name just a few. In fact, this time around, it’s gotten so all-over-the-place that even Welch is having a difficult time keeping track, as she told MTV News.
“Literally, a song can be about seven different things,” she sighed. “I do think of songs almost as collages of different images, and so the references will just come from all over the place, and I don’t really know how they’ll all fit together until the song is finished.”
The same holds true for the album’s title, which was inspired by a 1970s art installation Welch had seen, and the eclectic, electric rave-ups of her live performances. But robes, pasta and balloons, too.
“It was an art installation done in the ’70s, this video piece all done on Super 8, this big procession of kind of coquette-style hippies and all these different colored robes and masks, and it was all to do with color, really saturated, brightly colored pastas and balloons,” Welch explained. “I saw it a couple years ago, and it was called ’Ceremonials’ and then, like, Roman numerals after it. And the word sort of stuck with me, and I think the whole idea of performance, and kind of putting on this outfit and going out almost to find some sort of exorcism or absolution, to kind of get outside yourself, there’s a sense of ceremony to it.”
That same pastiche of influences holds true for the next single off the album, which, in a bit of an exclusive, Welch revealed during our interview (even though she probably wasn’t supposed to).
“I do [know what it’s going to be] but I don’t think [I’m supposed to say],” she said. “I think it’s going to be ’No Light, No Light.’ … It was the first song we wrote for this next record, actually. And the intro was written on my tour bus at four in the morning going to Amsterdam. We had gone out for [Machine member] Rob [Ackroyd]’s birthday to an all-night restaurant in Brussels called Midnights. We went to this funny restaurant and then got on the tour bus and everyone was a bit drunk and it was like, ’Yeah, let’s write a song.’
“And we recorded the sound of the bus moving, a real drone-y bass sound, and that’s the intro, and then the tour bus arrived in Amsterdam [and we were saying], ’Let’s go toast this song! We will find a bar that will serve us drinks at 7 in the morning! Come!’ ” she laughed. “So we trotted off into Amsterdam and managed to find a sports bar that would only serve us Midori. It was bright-green drinks and me and [Machine member] Isa [Summers] kind of looking like crazy old ladies.”