Your 'Best Of' collection is finally out this week. Why were there so many delays?
"It got delayed because there was a problem with the German press. It's the first album we've done on a major label so we thought it would go swimmingly, but that hasn't been the case. I think some people pre-ordered their copy in October so they've been waiting a while for it, but we've added a third disc with videos to ease the pain. We're also planning to reissue our albums and release some unreleased material at some point in the near future."
You've described the album as a soundtrack to London. What do you particularly love about the city?
"We've spent most of our time over the years in the capital and despite our name people have often said that we're quintessentially English. We've realised that the city is our spiritual home. As kids we saw it as a kind of magnet that drew us in - we all lived in the suburbs and were eager to make our way into the pulsating heart."
Do you still see it in the same way today?
"I live in Brighton now and although I'm slightly removed I enjoy coming into London even more. It's nice not to be in the commuter drudge and whenever I travel over the bridges into the city I still think it's awe-inspiring looking over the skyline."
Do you think London's music scene will suffer because of the economic downturn?
"Music often seems to do alright when times are bad and I think there are a lot of great people out there making a lot of great music. The difficult thing is the venues and where people can play. It seems there are fewer and fewer medium-sized venues - they're either very small or really large."
You've moved away from just making music in the last few years. Why is that?
"There were different reasons really. You know, because we've been going for so long and we're getting older there's the need to diversify a bit. Getting involved in films and making scores is something I've always been interested in doing. Bob [Stanley, band member] is a journalist when he's not in the group, so he has a lot of connections in the film world which makes it easier to pursue."
How much time do you spend as Saint Etienne these days?
"Quite a lot more recently because we're doing the soundtrack to a children's cartoon series and that normally takes up three days a week. It's good fun because you can use sounds you wouldn't normally put on a record like slapstick noises. Maybe we'll bring that into our next album! We're also preparing to tour and do some festivals."
Which ones have you got lined up?
"I'm not sure yet, but we're definitely doing a new one at Devil's Dyke near Brighton and we're also going to be touring in May. I think there's a threat that the music festival bubble is going to burst this year as there are so many of them and people have less cash. People might just buy tickets to one festival rather than three."
With such a large back catalogue is it difficult to decide on a setlist?
"I think we've kind of realised that it's a bit unfair just to play your new album and ignore your old stuff. This year particularly we'll be doing lots of the old stuff. It's a lot less stressful as people already know it, so that really takes the pressure off!"
Looking back, how do you feel about launching Shampoo into the world in the 90s?
"Hahaha! Very good actually because my brother is now married to one of them! 'Trouble' still gets played a lot and it still sounds good. It was a mad experience for them and it was crazy how much it took off - we never expected them to do that well. The whole thing was very tongue-in-cheek. They had a song called 'Girl Power' and then the Spice Girls came along and nicked it."
Saint Etienne's single, 'Method of Modern Love/This Is Tomorrow', and album, London Conversations: The Best Of Saint Etienne, are both out now.