Post-punk apostles de jour, Bloc Party, reveal they're not the hardest when it comes to festivals, but say they'll definitely be roughing it to play at this year's Glastonbury!
Hot on the success of their debut album ‘Silent Alarm’, bassist Gordon Moakes and drummer Matt Tong take time out from tearing up the charts and touring out of their skins to speak to Virtual Festivals.
VF: Congratulations on the success of Silent Alarm. How does it feel?
Matt: It feels pretty good. We’re all a little surprised actually, how well it’s gone, so I guess we’re kind of shocked, but delighted at the same. The last thing you think about when you’re plugging away in North London toilet venues is having gold albums. So it’s a big surprise. The attention’s been quite overwhelming, but we’ll get used to that in time, I think.
VF: Has the band dynamic changed at all as your recognition has grown?
Gordon: Not radically. You find these kind of relationships do change anyway over time. There’s always a slight family dynamic, here’s big brother today, or someone else gets a bit sulky, or somebody’s not feeling so well, you adapt constantly to that. So I think we’re just growing and learning more about each other, when to look out for each other and when to give each other a bit of space.
VF: Any fighting yet?
Gordon: No fighting as yet. We’ve had the odd sharp comment, but that’s nothing new. It seems ok, given the kind of stress that potentially we could be under. I think it would be different if things weren’t going as well as you were hoping rather than the other way around. That’s when you would start getting a bit tense about stuff.
VF: Having recently completed the NME Tour with Kaiser Chiefs, The Futureheads and The Killers, how do you feel you guys compare to other bands in terms of behaviour?
Gordon: Well, I think we’re kind of rather boringly well behaved as a band, apart from the odd kinda drunken escapade. Most of the bands on that tour were pretty likeminded in that sense. There was nothing ridiculous at all about our antics, we were all quite sensible. There’s new wave of sensible bands.
It’s always been a bit of a myth that all bands do is go completely haywire at any given opportunity. When you actually do come across a band like that, and I’ve met maybe one or two, it’s so unbelievable that you just can’t take them seriously.
VF: Do you want to name names?
Gordon: Although I must admit we haven’t really spent that much time in the company of The Bravery, from what I can tell they make quite an effort to show how much they drink. They come stumbling into rooms, carrying bottles of stuff as if to say ‘look at us’. If you have any real knowledge about what it’s like to be in a band you know that like you can’t behave like that, you have to work so hard.
VF: What’s been your most bizarre experience to date?
Matt: Probably getting a request from my landlord to get a signed album for his daughter. I have absolutely no idea how he knew we were in a band. He sent me a note in the mail. I don’t know if I can exploit this to my advantage yet, I’m investigating the possibilities.
Gordon: Russell got kidnapped at a gig in Liverpool. Russell had access to some whiskey which is not a good thing for him. He was later seen wandering the streets in a daze, and we all went to get a bit of food after the gig. He was accosted by some girls who were quite taken with him. Russ was leaning in this car window, talking to them, and Matt thought it would be quite funny to up him into the window of the car… and they drove off with his legs in the air! Russ managed to convince them to drop him off and he scrambled away. With Russell and Matt, you don’t put anything past them to be honest. They’re just like big kids with access to alcohol.
VF: If Russell and Matt are the kids of the group, how would you describe yours and Kele’s roles?
Gordon: We’re sort of mum and dad really. I think I don’t know who’s who, though I think sometimes I’m mum ‘cos I’m the most sensible, but then again Kele is the one who’s like the most protective and nurturing of his art form you know, I’m a bit more dismissive of it, so we kinda swap roles in that sense.
VF: What festivals would be on your wish-list to play?
Matt: I don’t have a preference, really. Obviously there’s some I’d rather play more than others, I always look forward to playing in Japan, so doing any of the Japanese festivals. I don’t think we’re doing it this year, but I’d quite like to play Fuji Rock, because that’s based around Mount Fuji, which would be quite a nice experience. We’re doing Glastonbury this year, so it’ll be good to tick that particular box. We’re doing Coachella as well, which is also a festival that I really wanted to play.
VF: Which have been your favourite festivals to visit as ordinary members of the paying public?
Matt: Probably Glastonbury. Actually, All Tomorrow’s Parties, it happens at a holiday camp at Camber Sands in Kent. I went to the first two of those and that was good fun. It was nice staying in a chalet instead of camping. I remember that being a really good time, going down to the beach playing football and using the slot machines. I haven’t been to many outdoor festivals, I’ve always been a complete wuss and preferred my home comforts.
Gordon: The one I always went to was Reading. I lived in Reading at one point, and that was MY one. With Reading I found the time to catch up with a load of bands that you’d heard about – The Foo Fighters at Reading back in ’95 in a tent that was just filled to triple capacity or something. I had to stand outside. It was this real sense of something happening, masses of anticipation.
VF: There were announcements a while ago that you were already beginning work on the second album. Where are you with it?
Matt: We want about 30 songs ready for the record by the time we come to record, which should be around this time next year, we’re almost halfway there now. We’ve still got plenty more to come, there’s lots of stuff brewing inside Kele. We’ve demoed about 12.
VF: Will it be more of the same, or do you think you’ll take your music in a different direction?
Matt: We’re hoping to make a warmer-sounding record this time around, and have a go at investigating the way we record live using the instruments as well as the whole post-production process. We’re always looking to move along from what we’ve already done, so it will still sound like us, but hopefully it will be a lot different as well. But in a good way, not because it has to be different, just because we’ve actually progressed as songwriters and musicians.
Gordon: Obviously some of the songs [that we’ve written] are fillers, they’re not that good. A couple of them, I think it’s the best stuff we’ve written yet, but I would say that!
Bloc Party are confirmed to play at T In The Park and Coachella, have confirmed themselves for Glastonbury, and are hotly rumoured to perform at Reading/Leeds too. ‘Silent Alarm’ is out now.