Eliza Day chats with the dudes from Bloc Party about their new album, Four, chasing their art and coming to South Africa to headline Rocking the Daisies.
“We are older, wiser and have some of the old swagger back… we consider ourselves very privileged to be able to tour [again].”
What’s got 10 000 fans, 100 000 daisies in a chain and is predisposed to partying?
Octopus – the first single off Bloc Party’s new album when the lads headline at Rocking the Daisies 2012.
This is it people. It starts right here, right now. Yes, the festival season is fast approaching for South Africans everywhere. The smell of the future best-times-of-your- life is taking the edge of your reality because those friendly candy-striped tent tops are just about in sight.
Rocking The Daisies last year left only the sweetest taste of how a festival should be in my mouth. The thought of making the journey back to Darling this year couldn’t make me more excited, and once again the festival has done it properly and gifted us with another outstanding international act, Bloc Party. I caught up with frontman Kele Okereke and the rest of the band about their new album, Four, chasing their art and coming to South Africa.
When Rocking The Daisies dropped the Bloc Party bomb, social media platforms lit up like alien crop circles in the cane fields. I asked whether they were surprised they had so many fans this side of the world and Kele replied, “There’s something about us and the Southern Hemisphere, I guess, because we appear to be inordinately popular in Australia. The internet has obviously made us all a little closer – I would mainly attribute it to that.”
Yeah, we’re on top of shit even if this is the third world, that’s for sure. Speaking of which, when their second new single, Octopus appeared online, we were comparing the sound to their last three albums and having on and offline discussions about the new direction. Frontman, Kele explains the uncertainty of their flavour with new album, Four.
“We’re not sure. We make music like someone who always has something on the tip of his tongue. We’re always chasing something before the thought is fully realised because we get bored otherwise. At this point we’re highly aware of how important it is to continue learning from what we do and we concede that the price of this is sometimes unsettling for the listener.”
Lyrically, Octopus hints at a darker side, very much a theme in the aesthetic of subcultures and their music across the board this year,
“It hid and it hid in his bedroom Psycho killer teen dream action film.”
What hid? The octopus? Dope! Well probably not, but your guess is as good as theirs when asked, “I’m not entirely sure about this. It is perhaps vaguely something to do with facing one’s fears. Could I be any less arcane than that? No. Sorry!”
“In the past, we’ve perhaps been sometimes overly-reliant on the tension that comes from us pulling in separate directions…”
I like their ballsy approach in this regard and believe fans appreciate the route of evolution with their sound because while it is an eclectic audience, we all feel like we’re moving forward together.
One thing for certain though, is that the many die-hard Bloc Party fans have missed the music since the band took a time-out in 2009 to pursue solo projects, “It was very pleasant for the most part. To be able to carve out the space to reflect on what brought us together in the first place and come back stronger than ever; we all felt like it was time well spent.” Seems they are back in the groove after some outside stimulus as Kele explains, “It feels rather spiffing actually.”
“Everyone seems to be getting on well and there is a kindness and an openness between us that hasn’t been felt within the band since the night we played Stockton-On-Tees and were too scared to walk across the town square to get to the gig. We are older, wiser and have some of the old swagger back, and we consider ourselves very privileged to be able to tour after spending so long on the sidelines.”
This comes as a reassuring conclusion to the rumours that circulated around the band splitting up in the last few years. A previous statement from drummer, Matt Tong, explains the sabbatical, “We definitely need to have a break and gain a bit of perspective on life outside of the band. Hopefully if we do reconvene at some point in the future we’ll be refreshed and have so many ideas to bring to what it is we do.”
Another reason, Four is gonna be so damn good is because awesomely talented record producer, Alex Newport, added his edgy flavour to the outfit this time ‘round. Those of you who are At The Drive-In and Mars Volta fans are going to have fun adding Bloc Party to your lists of bands to love thanks to Newport’s production. I asked what it was like working with Newport on Four and apparently he’s as cool as he is creative, “Alex was fantastic from start to finish. We all feel like we’ve made a new friend. In his own subtle way he was so encouraging and really helped us to understand the value in listening to and understanding the parts of the songs we had written for Four. He helped us find a collective focus that had sometimes been lacking during our first act and I think it shows on the record we have made. In the past, we’ve perhaps been sometimes overly-reliant on the tension that comes from us pulling in separate directions and Alex showed us that there are other ways with which to achieve a similar dramatic effect.”
The music video for Octopus is as clean and current as their sound. A pleasingly simple composition of fun, flash editing, bright colour and epileptic rhythmic gymnasts dancing around the band in a dingy basement complete with a sif couch, was the brainchild of Dando Nova. The chaps in the band seem chuffed with the outcome, “It was great. This was Nova’s first directorial effort and she was full of energy and ideas and there was no sign of any nerves. I think she is going to prove to be a dab hand at this kind of project.”
Guys, it’s gonna be good. For those of you who already have your Rocking the Daisies tickets, I look forward to seeing you lose your minds to Bloc Party as well as the rest of the severely cool line up.
To all the other fans still rustling up the funds and the leave to get your asses there – just do it. On a closing note, Kele speaks for the band about coming to SA and why they are excited, “The opportunity to play our music in front of a new audience, the opportunity to experience a different culture and have different conversations with different ideas about things. We can’t wait!”
Neither can we. Later darlings.