IT was quite challenging pinning down the guys from…
IDLES – caught in a touring whirl and busy on the road. Joe Talbot, Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan; Adam Devonshire and Jon Beavis make up the five-piece. The chaps set some time aside to chat about their latest single, Well Done. I ask them about the support they have received – ‘6 Music especially instrumental – and the inspiration behind their current track. The Punk maestros have been inflaming and thrilling crowds (across the world) for a long time and are gearing up to record their debut album, Brutalism – it will be out next year. With that in mind: the chaps discuss the recording process and what we can expect; how they have progressed since their early days and what it is like being compared with giants like Fat White Family. It is great to hear the guys in self-deprecating, spirited and acerbic mood.
Hey lads. How are you? How has your week been?
We’re good thanks. Just on the road to Cambridge to play a gig thing. Our week has been sh*t-hot. We’ve been playing shows and sleeping in the van which has brought us closer as friends and lovers.
For those new to the band: can you introduce yourself, please?
We are IDLES.
Bobo on shitar and pleb dance, Joe on singing; Jon on drummings, Dev on pasties and Lee hasn’t got a fuc*ing clue.
What was it that brought you guys together? Have you known each other for years or did the band sort of fall together?
We’ve known each other for many years and the want to make music brought us together and has subsequently killed our friendships.
You have been championed by Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson on BBC Radio 6 Music. Is that a station you listen to a lot and what was it like hearing praise from those D.J.s?
BBC Radio 6’ is collectively our favourite station – so to be played by those bays was a fuc*ing dream.
God bless the good Lord Lammo.
There are elements of Fat White Family and Sleaford Mods to your work but your individual personalities and words stand out. There aren’t a lot of Punk bands that mix sly humour and poetry. Do you think music would be richer if there were?
I think music is rich enough to enjoy the sh*t that’s out at the moment but could definitely do with more diversity in terms of new music being played to the masses. There is no need or want for more of any particular music in our camp – just new ideas and violent sounds from any voice or genre is welcome.
Welcome was your debut E.P.; followed by Meat in 2015. What is, would you say, the biggest difference between the E.P.s in terms of sound and lyrical themes?
Bowen: Sound-wise there was a clear progression. Welcome contains a lot of influences we had at the time and we were still trying to find our feet.
Meat has Lee on it and sounds more like us. I wouldn’t listen to Welcome – it’s a bit beige for my tastes.
Joe: Content-wise; I’ve always focused on similar themes of grief and anger/fear – but I reckon my writing has more confidence in Meat which has materialised in the conciseness of my writing.
Well Done is your latest single. What inspired the song and do you remember who came up with the idea?
I was listening to Fire in the Booth in the kitchen – I was working in at the time – and I was thinking about how Grime uses repetition of a word or phrase – as, not only the hook but also a way of adding gravity to the theme written about. The rest was us doing the do.
The song name-checks Mary Berry. You guys don’t strike me as fans or watchers of The Great British Bake-Off. Is it a guilty pleasure of yours?
The Great British Bake-Off is not a guilty pleasure of mine, no. The song is laced with spite.
I think Jon watches it, though – he loves cake.
I can imagine you have been performing live a lot the past year. Can we expect to see Idles in the studio – making an album or E.P. – anytime soon?
We have recorded our first album called Brutalism. It’s out next year.
I have mentioned bands like Fat White Family. Which artists, either mainstream or underground, are impressing you right now?
One imagines you guys grew up listening to a lot of Punk and Rock as children. What albums and artists were common in your households?
Punk-Rock was not common in my house: my old dear loved Simply Red and Otis Redding. Bowen’s dad was in a punk band called The Shops – by all accounts The Shops were sh*t.
You have a lot of tour dates (the rest of) through November and December. Which dates are you looking forward to especially?
I’m sorry, we’re late responding to this – we prepared for Iceland with lots of layers but if you’re thinking of going save up some serious cash money as it ain’t cheap; no sir! Our set was the same as it always is: different every time and fuck*ng radicalz.
Many people have images and ideals of what life on the road is like for a young Punk-Rock band – lots of beer, trouble and late-night turbulence. What is the reality like and is touring something you all enjoy?
Touring is like going on holiday only you’re traveling with people you hate.
Your hotel is a van; the beer is warm; the reps. are similar and you really look forward to work.
Looking at your promotional photos and there is some awesome hair/facial hair going on. Is there any ‘hair envy’ in the band and who would you say boasts the best hair?
Dev has hair envy as he’s bald and often dreams of his now-ghosted locks. Bowen has the best hair because it’s thick and grows quickly. Lee’s is thinning but it hanging on for dear life. I’ve been balding since I was 10 and balance this out by cry-wanking.
What of the next year or so? Any plans or ambitions you have as a band for 2017?
2017 is the year we release an album, record a second and tour lots.
For the new bands that want to follow in your footsteps: what advice would you offer to them?
My advice to new bands is practice, practice, practice – write and practice.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song of your choice (not one of your own as I’ll include that) and I’ll play it here.
Taos Humm – RC
Traams – Swimming Pool
Of Montreal – Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
Negative – A Frames
Danny Brown – When it Rain