Where are you and what have you been up to today? I’m at home for the first time in a while. It’s a bit strange, but good. It’s lovely weather so I’ve been out in the garden.

What do you have in your pockets? Oh bloody hell. Er, a score, which is slang for a 20 pound note, and… that’s it.

Do you have any tattoos? Thankfully I’ve only got a small dot on my left forearm. I was about 12-years-old and it’s a homemade tattoo, done with a matchstick head and some pins. But my brother stopped me getting a Crass tattoo – some dodgy punk band. My brother clipped me round the ear and said, “what are you doing, you crazy bastard!”

What’s your favourite place in the world? Ooh. Off the top of my… I love Greece, I love the islands of Greece. I also love Ireland, I’ve got family connections there.

Okay, on to your music… Oh no, let’s keep going with that stuff.

Haha. Okay, er, cats or dogs? Dogs, haha.

With new album Kingdom of Rust you missed out on the number one spot in the UK to Lady GaGa by just four sales. You must have been well pissed off? It was pretty bizarre, but yeah. I want to widen the picture and not sound too bitter here. The week our record was out was National Independent Record Store Week in England. Now, we were selling loads of records in independent shops but these guys can’t afford the machines that tell the fucking BPI or whatever they’re called or whoever runs things – does anyone run anything anymore? The irony that all these great stores are struggling, but yet are still selling records, they can’t afford the machine that tells people. A load of fucking crap really. But after being in Sub Sub and Doves for this long, you know, we’re not surprised at anything and we don’t really take things that seriously.

Kingdom of Rust came out four years after Some Cities. Why so long? It just took a while to reveal itself, to pull new shapes out of people who have been together for 20 years. We wrote tonnes of material and some of it wasn’t meeting our standards. But it was a chemistry thing: Why are we still doing this? Ultimately we still feel we can bring things out of each other and make something that means something to us.

Your music is both melancholy and euphoric. How do you manage that? Melancholy’s a word that pops up a lot. But hopefully it’s shot through with a lot of hope and beauty.

What did you do for those years between Sub Sub finishing in 1996 and the formation of Doves in 1998? We were lucky. We had the hit with “Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)” and that bought us some time. It was really basic, paying ourselves 70 quid a week and we were in the studio trying to work out where the hell we were trying to go. We just had to keep going really. Sub Sub to Doves was a natural ongoing process of two or three years where we just kind of morphed into a guitar band, if you like. But you read this stuff about how the studio burnt down and overnight we changed to a guitar band, but life isn’t like that is it.

You’ve been together longer than around 90 per cent of bands. You’re a democratic bunch, is that why you’ve lasted? In our case it must be, it’s just the way we operate, we always have done. We always end up arriving at the same place still, but it might take lots of pushing and pulling and discussion to get there – without compromising on anyone’s part. We always end up feeling it, as a unit.

Joy Division, The Smiths, Doves. Why has Manchester produced Britain’s best music? Has it? I don’t know. There’s a fierce independent streak in people from the north of England… It all sounds so fucking trite, man. All those bands certainly empowered me growing up, gave me hope… Maybe we shouldn’t know why? I love it and hate it, but I’m fiercely proud of where I’m from. But I don’t like to bang a drum. I don’t know, man. I’ve not thought about that one for a while…

Doves play Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass, 25-26 July (info and tix, www.splendourinthegrass.com), Melbourne’s Billboard on July 28 (sold out), Sydney’s Metro on July 29 (tix, www.metrotheatre.com.au) and 30 (sold out) and Perth’s Capitol (tix, www.moshtix.com.au) on August 1