Back to the future for post-Britpop stalwarts Embrace

The band Embrace
The band Embrace

It’s more than two decades since Embrace released their first – and best – album, The Good Will Out.

But as guitarist Richard McNamara tells ANDY SYKES it’s a collection of songs that has stood the test of time

It was the swaggering post-Britpop album which catapulted a bunch of mates into the mindsets of music writers desperate to uncover the ‘next Oasis’.

The Good Will Out, a collection of 14 soaring anthems and delicate string-laden laments, was Embrace’s explosive debut.

It went on to sell more than 500,000 copies and secure them magazine front covers and Glastonbury headline slots.

Remarkably, it is now 21 years since a cocksure Danny McNamara graced the album cover in a sunlit Manhattan, New York.

And it’s about to get a second coming.

Embrace are to play the classic album in its entirety during a 21st anniversary tour. A date at Manchester Albert Hall sold out in barely a day. Fans’ thirst for nostalgia is seemingly unquenchable.

It follows a successful return last year when the Yorkshire five-piece released their seventh studio album, Love Is A Basic Need, to critical and chart success, reaching number 5.

And guitarist Richard McNamara, Danny’s brother, says The Good Will Out – which spawned three top 10 singles no less – has stood the test of time.

“During rehearsals it reminded us how great some of the songs are,” says Richard, who has been busy working on his side project Eevah.

“It made us question ourselves as to why we don’t play certain songs more often. You tend to focus on a hits package when you play live.

“They still sound fresh, compared to maybe other bands who were around when The Good Will Out was released. Others were definitely albums of that era, that sound. It feels more timeless.”

The Good Will Out spewed out Top 10 singles All You Good Good People, Come Back To What You Know and My Weakness Is None of Your Business. But it was the sum of its parts that secured its legendary status in the eyes of fans, with the likes of Fireworks, Retread and That’s All Changed Forever adding invaluable subtlety to all the bluster.

They played two triumphant nights at Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom – supported by a then little-known band called Coldplay.

And as Richard says, they are desperate to enjoy this tour, which kicks off in Aberdeen on March 5. A live album of The Good Will Out is set to be recorded during the London Roundhouse show on Friday May 15.

1998 is still a bit of a blur, it seems.

“It was all a bit surreal. We had worked so hard to get that far, working on it every day from 10am to 2am. We were trying to be cool, Danny was shouting his mouth about everyone,” Richard laughs.“I don’t think we enjoyed it for what it was. I think we missed out because we were so busy working. We didn’t appreciate it. We went overseas but then we were classic moaning Yorkshire, wanting to go home. We were never ones for caning it, we were workaholics not alcoholics.”

The follow up album, Drawn From Memory, didn’t follow the success of their debut and they were dropped after a lukewarm response to third album If You’ve Never Been.

But they burst back on to the scene in 2004 with Out of Nothing (Gravity/Ashes) which went on to outsell their debut.

Now, fresh from their last tour in support of Love Is A Basic Need, they have learnt to live in the moment and not worry about the critics.

“I just enjoyed it a lot more,” recalls Richard, who is recording album number eight in the studio at his Halifax home. “We got together and enjoyed being together, having a laugh. It was like Carry On Embrace!”

n Embrace play Manchester Albert Hall on Friday March 8. They also play the Neighbourhood Weekender in Warrington on May 25/26, headlined by George Ezra and Richard Ashcroft.

For tickets go to http.nbhdweekender.com

They also headline a mini-festival at Halifax’s Piece Hall on Friday June 28 supported by Reverend and the Makers and Sleeper. Go to www.seetickets.com.