Bloc Party: Reading and waiting

Having been away for 18 months, Bloc Party coincided the launch of their new album with a few timely festival appearances.

Virtual Festivals caught up with Russell Lissack, the band's lead guitarist, at Reading Festival to find out why…

Virtual Festivals: Was the album always intended to come out now?
Russel Lissack: "No, it's just ended up that way, we've been working on it for ages. It was always going to be ready when it was ready. We were intending to play new songs at these festivals, but the album just happened to get done in time too."

VF: You're headlining Hydro Connect but you're also back at Reading and Leeds. You always seem to play there, how come?
RL: "They just keep asking us to come back. Plus Reading is a bit of a homecoming for us, so we love doing it."

VF: You're not quite bill-toppers at the biggest festivals yet, but are on the brink. Does it annoy you being in slots below the likes of The Killers?
RL: "We always end up playing with the same bands at festivals so you get to know them a bit, you get used to being below the Killers or whoever, it doesn't bother us. We've played a lot of festivals and the line-ups are often quite similar."

VF: What are festivals all about for you personally?
RL: "I don't do the camping thing, but the whole atmosphere of festivals is great. For me, festivals are a chance to watch bands I wouldn't get chance to elsewhere. We have support bands on tour, but that's usually the same every night. At festivals you get a bit of time to see who you want."

VF: So who are you looking forward to seeing here at Reading?
RL: "I just saw Santogold and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to Mystery Jets and Foals too. I really want to see Justice but they're on at the same time as us, so that isn't very likely."

VF: Speaking of electro acts, is it fair to say the new album has taken that direction?
RL: "People can make their own opinions about the album, it's out, judge for yourself. We wrote more in the studio than we ever have before, that was the main difference, but I think it's got lots of different elements – it's essentially a Bloc Party album."

VF: How will you feel if the album is a huge commercial hit and you became a lot more high-profile, personally?
RL: "I'll be chuffed if we got even bigger. But the type of band we are, we're never going to be pop stars."

VF: Standing here now though, you aren't being bothered by anybody and you're quite anonymous despite the fact in a few hours thousands of these same people will be watching you. How would you feel if that changed?
RL: "It would be a bit lame if everyone recognised me and was crowding round, but fortunately I don't think that's ever going to happen. I can still stand around and watch bands. I'm not the singer though, Kele maybe has to deal with that more, it's just frontman syndrome."

VF: How different is it playing festivals now compared to when you started? Are you tired of it?
RL: "It's not getting tired of playing the festival circuit, I still love doing it. I probably wouldn't go any more if we weren't playing, but we are and I'm enjoying being here."

VF: So are you intending to have a full-on assault on next summer's festivals as well as the few you're doing this year?
RL: "It's always exciting playing at festivals, you get such great reactions, I don't think I can't imagine not doing them."

VF: Can we expect new sets and a new show for next summer then?
RL: "There will be a mix, you know, the old songs still excite me too, as most of them get great receptions, but of course it's fun doing the new ones and seeing how they go."

VF: Will you be around before then, touring the UK?
RL: "We're touring the US and Canada pretty soon, but we won't be playing in England until the end of the year or next year probably, except the odd thing."

The odd thing turns out to be a gig at Kentish Town Forum on September 30th, while expect the band back for a full tour in the new year.