By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter
Lead singer Jimi Goodwin reveals just where the Cheshire band have been for four years and how Kingdom Of Rust was their biggest challenge yet…
Doves begin a nationwide UK tour in Warrington on 12 March
Even by Doves' standards this has been some hibernation.
It has been four years since Some Cities, the third LP from Wilmslow's most meticulous.
Only now are the threesome returning from self-imposed exile.
"We've literally been bunker-like in the studio for three years," says bassist and lead singer Jimi Goodwin. "We all needed a bit of a break after 15 years in constant, closer contact. We were all kind of nest building."
"We owed it to ourselves to come home and take stock," says Goodwin of their absence.
"Maybe in hindsight jumping off the bike slowed it down a bit but it was very necessary that we took some time out."
The product of their slow-burning labour is new album Kingdom Of Rust released on 6 April.
"It was the hardest one we've ever done," explains Goodwin.
"We never fall out but it was just pressure on ourselves really - we kept missing deadlines imposed on ourselves.
"You just go up and down like a yo-yo worrying about it."
By the band's own admission there were obstacles which halted the process: "Family stuff and family tragedies and then also joy - Andy is [Williams, drums] a dad now."
As with previous Doves records, the seeds of Kingdom Of Rust were explored early on with a trip away.
"We go away to rented cottages and drag a van full of our stuff," says Goodwin. "Laptops and an old eight-track and we build it from the ground up."
After plotting some initial demos in early 2006 the trio returned to their rented studio on a working farm in the flatlands of Cheshire alongside producer Dan Austin [John Leckie also produced two tracks].
Doves' Jimi Goodwin performing live in Radio 1's Live Lounge
It is there among the fields and cattle where their long days were spent.
Goodwin: "We don't do the midnight oil or the midnight shifts no more really - just a sort of 11 till nine sort of vibe.
"You've got to put the hours in. We always have."
Three years of solitude and fresh country air did, however, eventually take its toll.
"I love nature but one can have a little bit too much," laughs Goodwin. "Next time there's got to be some city injected into it. I'd love us to get back into central town and find some space and just get a bit more urban in there."
Typically for such a close unit they spent as much time debating ideas as actually recording them.
"It's that old Doves meticulous eye for detail again," offers Goodwin as an excuse. "We'd love to be a plug in and play garage band."
Right now Doves are in a more reflective place having spent so many years in each other's company. It meant this record was a real challenge.
"You go up and down in your emotions," adds the singer. "One day you're really feeling these tracks and believe in them and the next day you've got your head in your hands."
The making of Kingdom Of Rust was a rollercoaster which saw the band exploring their own inner core.
"You know, [having to] justify why we still exist - I think between the three of us it was unsaid but we've been together for nearly 20 years.
"There's chemistry there - there still is and we still have to explore that and we've come out the other side of that still in love with each other.
"Not in a carnal way may I stress, but we're tight."
One thing is for sure, we'll be seeing much more of Doves in the coming months.
An appearance at Heavenly Records' birthday celebrations in London in late 2008 whetted their appetite for a return to the stage.
"We got a taste of what we'd been missing - contact with people, an audience," he says. "Bit of nerves and stuff in your stomach before you go on - it spurred us to be like, 'C'mon let's wrap this up now'."
The spring will incorporate a couple of UK tours, a trip to the US and a return to the summer festivals.
"I hope there's a Glasto in there again," says Goodwin. "I think we're talking with people at the moment about that."