Idles | Interview

1) You just finished recording your long awaited debut EP, how did you find the process? was it easy to commit your raucous live performance
to disc?

Andy – On the whole, the process was a thoroughly enjoyable one. We had learned a lot from the demos we had done last year, based on both our experience and our peers opinions. We knew preparation would be key and thankfully we all pulled our fingers out and everything ran smoothly. It was important to us to transfer the energy from our live shows to the studio, something that we thought was lacking in our
earlier recordings, so we did exactly that, recorded as a live set up and added guitar and vocal overdubs. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Rik and Stu at State of Art studios, we can’t
recommend them enough, and also Luke Brooks from Scarlet Rascal and the Train Wreck who was kind enough to come in and put some backing vocals down for us.

2) As a band, you’ve made a point of taking time to develop, however people haven’t ever lost interest, what do you attribute this to?

Dev – I think it’s because we take our time over everything, we wanted to progress naturally and not force something and lose quality in what we do. In a democracy, that can take it’s time. The songs that we’re writing now as a unit are more accomplished than the first things we wrote, Joe’s melodies and writing are getting better and better and he’s pushing himself, which in turn means we all have to raise our game. I guess it comes down to the fact that if the quality is there, people won’t lose interest. I’d much rather have quality over quantity, then, in time, you’ll end up with both.

Andy – I’m not entirely sure we’ve made a point of taking time, it’s just the way things have gone. As a band with absolutely 0 cash everything we do is funded through the money we get paid from our live shows, which
isn’t a lot, hence why it has taken so long for us to release our debut EP, we just haven’t been able to afford it until now. We are very fortunate to have maintained the interest we currently have, and I think it’s down to one question, “What’s going to happen next”. I think it’s something that keeps people coming to our shows, that notion that we’ve never stopped being passionate it’s just now our maturity together as a band has made us more concise in writing and playing live.

3) I think lots of people jump to conclusions when labeling you immediately as post-punk, where do you see your influences coming from?

Bowen – Asking the influences of a band with techno/ hip hop/ indie/ soul/ house dh’s, a music promoter and an enthusiastic 20 year old music student, is a bit of a difficult question to answer… We’re eclectic?
We love being associated with post-punk and we can attribute that to the driving basis of our songs but our passions for other genres mean we inject some soul into an otherwise often mechanical sound.

We may seem moody or angry, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously, the guitars are present but not too complicated or overpowering, we don’t use classic rock or blues scales, the drums are the metronome
but occasionally all over the place, The vocals are strained at times and others restrained or highly charged and yet at times a mere mumble but at the same time weigh heavy and provoke. In that
sense I think we are “post-punk”. Post punk was inspired by mechanical kraut rock which obviously doesn’t come from a black American tradition, yet Joe and I will stay up till 8am watching documentaries of our favourite blues musicians. Son Houses death letter carries more leverage with us than some ditty penned by Magazine or Gang of Four (both fantastic bands).

4) Underground music has always been intrinsically tied to politics, do you feel like your music reflects your opinions on the current political situation? (faux left etc.)

Joe – We as people are very passionate and have strong and often contrasting views, politically we may fall in the same broad spectrum of ‘The Left’ but we don’t feel the need to ram it down peoples throats. One of the problems with politics and music is that its very easy to say things and purvey conviction when really it’s mindless. ‘The Left’ is full of miss-representation, morons shouting “fuck the system!” without really knowing what the system is. We try to stay away from being faux left sofa soldiers… you need more than a Che Guevara poster to be a Communist.

Our sound may well be attributed to music assigned to ‘The Left’, we have been labelled a punk band, but in the early days that was mainly because we were pretty scrappy live but now we’ve tightened up but not lost our punk ethos. However punk has changed, I think its more punk to be polite and show that you’re grateful to audiences than to act like a prick and be all moody. Loads of bands come through Bristol acting aloof like they don’t give a shit, which pisses me off when I’ve paid money to see them. We as a band are all about making an effort and showing people we care and are grateful to be doing what we’re doing to The People. That’s punk. Hipsters are basically anemic yuppies.

It is important to us that we treat the band democratically; we work on a voting system and that almost always rings true but sometimes we let a member take the reigns, which is sometimes more democratic.

Apart from that we work hard for each other and split the money evenly, I guess that makes us budding socialists?

5) Visually you’re a very strong band, whether that’s through video, artwork, or engaging live performances, how do you feel about the current trends in bands when it comes to imagery?
(Spector etc)

Bowen – saying our image is important to us, would be very true. However we have not set out to be stylised in any way, shape or form…

We all appreciate style and art, despite having very different ideas of what that is, we do enjoy shirts and jackets and shoes, this has been contagious with the members of the band; by nature or
force. Playing live is the most natural thing in the world for us and how it comes across is never planned. Bands need artwork, we like to be in control of everything to do with the band.

Joe – Yes we want to look good, on stage and off. It’s something I feel necessary as a person to feel good about yourself and on stage it’s almost an appreciation to an audience to make the effort, however we value honesty more and feel we should dress how we want to dress. Like our music we’ve stayed on a path we would walk if not in a band, we don’t have the time or money to change our style every five minutes like some bands. Take Spector… that singer’s changed his band, style and music three fucking times! Strange. I just find it transparent. Or Toy. Jing Jang Jong from the 70’s. Strange. Don’t get me wrong I’d like to try other genres but not in fancy dress.

Bowen – As for Spector, you have to admit have a very aesthetically pleasing vision. I am sure many 14 year old girls hearts flutter and the mum’s too, However, fucking either can get you in trouble.

6) What’s the concept of the new video for Imagined Communities?

Joe – The song’s lyrics are based on my interpretation of the book ‘Imagined Communities’, which was written by Benedict Anderson; I wanted to sing about my disdain for nationalism but we didn’t want to make the video too complicated so we came up with the idea of have us talking about something that would force us to be physically expressive, so we talk about dreams, In doing so we create our own imagined landscape that can’t be misinterpreted by the viewer but can be imagined much like the notion of patriotism itself. Simple.

7) You recently played the second Bristol summit, how do you feel about the ever improving Bristol scene?

Dev – It’s the strongest I’ve known for guitar bands in Bristol since I’ve lived here. Right across the spectrum you have amazing music, from the heavier end with Turbowolf, Yes Rebels and Flights, to The Naturals, Towns, Scarlett Rascal and The Train Wreck, Coasts, Let’s Kill Janice, Spectres, The Howling Owl boys, Fear of Fiction, Crack Magazine… i could easily list-off 30 Bristol-based bands, labels and magazines doing really interesting things and it feels good to be a part of that. The fact everyone seems to be sticking together and supporting each other means that people outside of Bristol are sitting up and taking notice. It’s really nice being able to prove that you don’t have to live in London to be involved in a vibrant and creative scene.

Joe – The Beauty of all of that is that not only are those people talented but they are genuinely nice people and are ACTUALLY looking after each other… fucking exciting.

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Check out the video for “Imagined Communities” and their upcoming dates and releases at
http://www.idlesband.co.uk