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Friday, 13 July 2012

IDLESCENCE: Ant Standring interviews IDLES lead vocalist Joseph Talbot.


 Photo: Andrew Hiles

Joe Talbot (facing front) along with counterparts Adam Devonshire, Mark Bowen, Andy S, and Jon Beavis form IDLES, a Bristol-based band that have thankfully quirked my curiosity with their impassioned Interpol resounding act that deserves every last bit of the snowballing attention it’s attracting.  Be sure to check out the video for ‘26-27’, the lead track from their forthcoming ‘Welcome’ EP, which is released August 6 2012; you’ll find it below, at the close of my interview with Joe Talbot.

AS:  When you take aim with your peashooter/pellet gun/sniper rifle, you’re aiming at whom?
JT:  Jeremy Kyle and George Osborne, both with a sniper rifle.

AS:  Where do you go when it all gets too much?
JT:  I'd say it never gets too much, but depending on the severity I’d retreat to my girlfriend, Father or the pub.

AS:  Is bedtime more half nine with a half read paper or more half four with fully red eyes?
JT:  It used to be 11 in the morning but now it's more midnight-ish.

AS:  What do you do with any ‘you’ time?
JT:  Write songs, watch films or I go to the pub; I like to paint but I rarely do.

AS:  Who would be your dream collaborator?
JT:  Shiiiiiiiit! Thom Yorke, Otis Redding or Biggie Smalls... Only so I could meet them!  Thom Yorke would be top because he's not only alive but I think Idles could do something magical with him.

AS:  What’s the last gig/concert you went to?
JT:  It was supposed to be Radiohead but that was obviously cancelled, but we went to Berlin anyway and saw Kavinsky at Weekend Club; his mixing was mega shit!  We went to a bar called White Trash and saw a three-piece techno jazz band called Dirty Honky; there were two saxophonists and the lead singer/rapper controlled the beats with a Wii controller!  It was the worst thing I’d ever seen, but they seemed happy!

AS:  What’s the best / your favourite music video?
JT:  UNKLE’S 'Rabbit in the Headlights' was the first video that shocked me I think. Or Radiohead’s 'Just' as it's just a genius idea. Or Fatboy Slim’s 'Weapon of Choice': the magic of Christopher Walken as a cleaner is unbeaten. Or for effort alone, OK Go’s 'This too shall pass'. Or 'The Scientist' by Coldplay as it's a cross between The Pharcyde's drop and the film 'Irreversible' except he actually learnt the song backwards! SICK.  BUT… my favourite of all is Chemical Brothers’ 'Star Guitar' as it means the most to me; I spend a lot of time on trains and it illustrates the beauty of the imagination.

AS:  If you were a musical instrument what would you be?
JT:  A snare drum.

AS:  What’s ‘love at first sight’ all about then?
JT:  I think you either know or you don't, depending... It's love without the bullshit I guess. There's nothing better.

AS:  Where do you draw your inspiration from?
JT:  Horrible shit from the past.

AS:  Care to share any regrets, missed opportunities or things that might’ve been?
JT:  I’d wished I’d started the band ten years ago. University was great, but now my life shits on it from a great height!

AS:  Were /are you aware of your escalating popularity?
JT:  It's not escalating at a rate worth being aware of yet.  I will always be realistic about popularity and we have a long way to go before we start lifting our heads up. I think the key is to just keep working hard.

AS:  Will your past come back to haunt you or will karma prove to be kind?
JT:  There is a chance my past might fuck me, but there's no need to worry about these things.

AS:  Where do you most enjoy playing live?
JT:  In new venues… always. The best was The Louisiana, Bristol a few years back. We felt like a band for the first time.

AS:  What influences your sound above all else?
JT:  Our contrasting tastes in music influence our sound. Our diversity in sound and our democratic approach is paramount; I think in the future our sound will be more succinct but at the moment we're constantly looking for that balance... which is lots of fun. As for my own influences, 60's Soul, Blues, Hip Hop and Punk… and not just sonically, these are the movements that inspire and influence me.

AS:  Where do you sit in the grand scheme of things?
JT:  At the same level as everyone else. I think as a band we'll do some important things even if it's just for ourselves.

AS:  Why the name (not your christened name of course)?
JT:  We came up with loads of names and it took us about a year to find it, but when it was suggested we all just agreed immediately. We came up with some horseshit and some gooduns like: Bad Milk, Got Need Shiny, Ghosties, Garçon means Boy, Drug money, Scunthorpe Titty Fuck… that last one was Bowen's! We'd spend hours in the pub after practice just saying stuff that came into our heads. The last one before Idles was Titles, which is where Idles sparked from.

AS:  Who’s the most likely to go solo or crazy?
JT:  Bowen is the most likely to go solo as he has the most ability musically and he loves the sound of his own voice… his solo stuff would be self-indulgent tosh! I'm the most likely to go crazy for loads of reasons, although I'm not one of those people that say "I'm mad me!” I just do worrying stuff a lot!

AS:  Any choice epitaphs or famous last words for which you’d like to be quoted?
JT:  I've always liked the idea of being remembered. Obviously as a good friend and son etc... But I’d love to make a positive change in the world through music and as a good socialist, but I’m constantly learning that one.

AS:  What makes you better than everyone else?
JT:  I think we have quite a brutal friendship that doesn't allow bullshit, which has helped us progress quickly.

AS:  When do you plan to take over the world?
JT:  Next year!

AS:  Are you all agreed/in control of the formats for your releases?
JT:  Everything we do is processed through a democratic voting system.

AS:  Wish you were doing anything else with your time other than music?
JT:  No. If I didn't have music I’d write, paint, make films or take photos.

AS:  Who were your heroes as a teenager?
JT:  Michael Jordan and Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio AKA 'The (original) Karate Kid').

AS:  What do you think of the paparazzi?
JT:  Nothing.

AS:  What music are you listening to of late?
JT:  The best song I’ve heard in ages is 'Hands on the Wheel' by Schoolboy Q. I've been listening to loads of dancehall at the moment like 'Warning shot' by Chan Dizzy and 'Till It Buck' by Busy Signal.  Also, The Walkmen, IceAge, My Bloody Valentine, The Antlers, The National, Archie Bronson Outfit, Kendrick Lamarr, Cloud Nothings, Battles and Pulled Apart By Horses.

AS:  Any message for underachieving or odds-facing musicians out there?
JT:  Work hard. Write as much as possible.

AS:  Any career highs or lows you care to share?
JT:  Highs: performing and writing. The lows are all drink-related.

AS:  Do you enjoy playing live or are you more at home in a studio?
JT:  It's all about playing live for me, but recording is fun.

AS:  Your career defining dream moment would/will be what?
JT:  Touring the world, playing Glastonbury and Jools Holland, and being on Desert Island Discs!

AS:  Know of any upcoming bands that are destined for greatness? 
JT:  The Naturals, Scarlett Rascal and The Train Wreck, Yes Rebels, Coasts, Towns, Mayans, Spectres, Gumm, Let's Kill Janice, The Hit Ups, Knife man, Call The Doctor, St Pierre, Snake Invasion, Turbowolf, etc there's a lot of good bands in Bristol.

AS:  How important do you feel visuals are in relation to music?
JT:  As a Film student I feel they are as important as each other, your performance on stage, your appearance, your posters and your artwork and of course your videos are important, but to me they are all part of being a musician.

AS:  What’s been the highlight of your year?
JT:  My friends having a baby and us getting both a manager and a booking agent who we know and trust.

AS:  I’m sure you’ve done a few but which gig has been your best?
JT:  The best was our first Dot to Dot festival where we played to an unexpected packed out crowd at the Louisiana… we'd only been playing a short while and we killed it! Either that or the next Dot to Dot where we played at The Anson Rooms in the day and then played a cancellation at The Thekla, late at night to a bewildered crowd expecting a house DJ.

AS:  Any forthcoming plans for you / the band?
JT:  Our E.P. 'Welcome' comes out August 6th so we're pushing that and then we're going to write an album, get signed, play on Jools Holland and then Glastonbury!

AS:  Is there more pressure playing live with a band than there is playing solo?
JT:  No there's less, any fuck up's you can pass as another's plus whenever I’m terrified I need my friends around me.

AS:  Are you unlucky in love and if so, why?
JT:  I was an asshole for years and my current girlfriend is awesome!  We've been together for four years, so I’d say I’m lucky that she puts up with my shit.

AS:  Best song, movie OR album ever?
JT:  'The Rat' by The Walkmen, 'Astral Weeks' by Van Morrison and Dirty Dancing or The Karate Kid.

AS:  Where did you sleep last night?
JT:  In a loft in Kreuzberg, Berlin! It sounds like I’m making it up to sound cool but I'm not. I'm sleeping in my mum's house in Newport, Wales tonight, so that balances it out!

AS:  What’s your secret vice... what are you a sucker for? 
JT:  Romantic Comedies. The romance was sucked out of my life a long time ago, so I like to escape now and again. That and WKD blue!

AS:  What makes the world go round?
JT:  Money. I hate the stuff. If you take away the bullshit though, it has to be compassion and The Arts. Everyone loves to dance and fuck!

AS:  Where’s the place to be?
JT:  Bristol. Paris. LA.

AS:  What’s your weak point?
JT:  My feet. I have club feet so they are rubbish. I walk like John Wayne, drunken and wearing high heels!

AS:  Which instrument does it for you most?
JT:  Bass.

AS:  What inspired the EP title?
JT:  We wanted to showcase our sound on the E.P. and thought it should be welcoming… thus 'Welcome' was born.

AS:  Are you a good dancer and can you prove it?
JT:  I am a good dancer! I used to breakdance when I was younger. I can't prove this although I do own a pair of Mecca shorts I won in a competition once. BOOM!

AS:  What kinds of music (if any) do you dislike the most? 
JT:  Happy Hardcore IS the Jeremy Kyle of music.

AS:  Where will you retire to when you're tired of comeback concerts? 
JT:  Bristol. Paris. LA. 

AS:  When will the world end? 
JT:  In a bit. 

AS:  Who’s the main driving force or do you work as a team?
JT:  We are completely democratic, from poster design to money to drum beats.

AS:  How important are the single / album charts?
JT:  We've never discussed them as a band.

AS:  What revival would you most like to witness?
JT:  The revival of the protest. Britain used to be good at telling the Government that we're pissed off. That and pogo!

AS:  Which era would you have been born in ideally?
JT:  The 50's. To be a teenager in the 60's must have been exciting, plus everyone looked sick. I'd have been a beatnik who twilighted as a mod/rocker. I'd have gotten my head kicked in!

AS:  Are exercise and diet important to you?
JT:  Yes but I’m rubbish at both. I try not to eat carbs.

AS:  If you could protect and save one thing in the world, what would it be?
JT:  The whales.

AS:  Who’s the most gifted person alive today?
JT:  Multi-instrumentalists who do interesting shit like Perry Ellis, Patrick Wolf, Johnny Greenwood, Thom Yorke, Micachu. Also, Stephen fry and Tony Benn.

AS:  Have you got any famous relatives and if so, who are they?
JT:  My dad Nigel Talbot is an amazing artist, but he's not famous yet.

AS:  Does complaining accomplish anything?
JT:  Yes. You just need to do it well. Act like a martyr and you'll get spit in your soup.

AS:  Whose autograph do you have and why?
JT:  I got Geoff Capes autograph at a Haven Holiday camp when I was a kid, that’s probably why I like beards so much now!

AS:  Which fictional character would you most like to be and why?
JT:  Batman. He's a fucking G. I dressed up as him on the same holiday as when I met Geoff Capes and even me with my cursed hooves looked like a bad man!

AS:  Which rules... the digital age or the vinyl/cassette age?
JT:  The Cassette age. I watched a VHS the other day and I felt warmed watching the auto-tracking commence. I think you appreciate shit more when there's a lack of immediacy.

AS:  Which musical style should become extinct first?
JT:  I think everything deserves a chance. I can't stand snobbery but I wouldn't miss gabba, happy hardcore or Die Antwoord.

AS:  Do you have any tragically unused band names you’d like to use?
JT:  I really like Ghosties and Garçon Means Boy.

AS:  Was it easy becoming who you are today?
JT:  Yes. The band was a piece of piss. We're best friends.

AS:  What’s the biggest myth about stardom?
JT:  I wouldn't know anything about stardom.

AS:  Have you ever been conned into or out of something?
JT:  I'm quite gullible. I once bought a picture "drawn" by this guy in Paris. I asked him loads of questions about "his work" and then bought a piece for 15 Euros; I then saw it a few blocks away being sold in a shop for 3 Euros. I immediately pissed myself at what a knob I’d been!

AS:  Do politics have a place in music?
JT:  Yes. But they shouldn't have to. For some of us in the band it is vital and others not. I'm trying to be a socialist but I'm no preacher, my beliefs do come through though… I try to pose questions rather than answers. I think of our music as 'Recession Soul'. 

AS:  John, thanks again for doing this and for sharing your insight into the world’s first recession soul outfit!

Learn more about IDLES on their MySpace or Facebook pages.  Now then, here’s that 26-27 video I promised y’all, enjoy!