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November 2018
Latitude 2017|Latitude 2017

Idles: "After everything we’d done, we didn’t have a fucking clue"

One of the most exciting live bands on the planet, Latitude doesn't know what's hit it.
Published: 4:23 pm, July 15, 2017
Idles: "After everything we’d done, we didn’t have a fucking clue"
Loads of bands get a reputation for being great live, but where Idles are concerned it's richly deserved. Not the kind of safe 'good live band' you'll find ten a penny - Idles split opinion. That's what makes them great - no focus grouped mass market sure shot here. That friction is where the sparks take flight. They could set a festival field on fire.

That's why we grabbed them for a chat as they rolled into nice, unsuspecting Latitude. Someone should warn the masses. This is going to go off.

How’re you doing? Ready for Latitude?
Joe: Kind of yeah, I’ve been flagging a bit. Got up at five and couldn’t sleep on the bus, so I’m just three hours short of a nice kip. Coffee sounds good.

How’s festival season going for you guys?
Joe: Banging.
Mark: Amazing.
Joe: It’s been mental, it’s the first time we’ve ever done a proper tour.
Mark: Especially in Europe.
Joe: Especially in Europe year, and all the festivals. It’s a lot different, getting on a plane, flying. Lee never really flew before being in the band, so for a lot of us, it’s just a beautiful mess. I’m not complaining, apart from the fact I’m scared of flying.

Highlights so far?
Mark: Roskilde, for me.
Joe: That was the first European date we had, it was fucking great.
Mark: The food was incredible.
Joe: The food’s been insane most of the time actually. I think just the general reaction we’ve had from the crowds, even if they’re small, has been really nice. We’re used to playing to 20 people up North, and now we’re playing to 500 people. It’s a beautiful thing.

Your music’s very British, how does that translate abroad?
Joe: I think that the nature of it, it’s quite bombastic, rhythmic drum and bass, so I think even if they don’t know what’s going on, they still get involved. I think also a lot of Europeans have a fascination with Joy Division and The Fall, and that kind of British dark humour slash attack on the rhythm section. I think they like it, and they’re already au fait with that sort of music so, they can get it. If Sleaford Mods can fucking be translated well abroad then I think anyone’s fine, you know? It’s very Northern. Europeans are a lot more open-minded about what they’re into. I can’t imagine the British public getting behind Slovakian’s euro-sound.

At European festivals, it’s hard to imagine the acts breaking over here.
Joe: It’s because we’re lazy with languages, and also the government and other authorities and radio stations and venues and stuff, aren’t subsidised, and they don’t put money into things. If you’re a Spanish band and you want to come over here, you’re going to lose a lot of money. Whereas if we go over to Europe and we can come back even at least, because they pay more, because they can pay more, because they support musicians and artists in Europe, whereas they don’t in the UK, they’re shit. You’re not going to get foreign bands touring unless they’re fucking minted, or famous.

[caption id="attachment_20455" align="alignright" width="1500
Photo: Poppy Marriott / Dork[/caption]
"pull" text="Making the album gave us a boost, the reception’s just like a Brucie Bonus.


So what other UK festivals have you played at?
Joe: We’re not really supported by UK festivals that much, we’re doing Reading & Leeds.
Mark: Download.
Joe: We didn’t know what to expect from Download, only Lee, our rhythm guitarist, had ever been, and it was fucking great. The people at Download are amazing.
Mark: Sea of black t-shirts.
Joe: Yeah it was a sea of black. But walking about, it’s just really lovely people. It was an eye-opener, because we’ve been going to Glastonbury for the last decade, and I’ve been going to Reading for 20 years - I don’t anymore, I’m way too old for that shit - but Download was amazing. I think Download’s a hidden gem. I think a lot of people wouldn’t go because of the kind of music that’s there, if you’re not into that sort of thing you wouldn’t go, but for us, it was a really nice surprise.

It must reinforce how well you translate across a myriad of genres and people?
Joe: Being interviewed by Metal Hammer and then… what was it?
Mark: Radio 2, wasn’t it?
Joe: I dunno, yeah. It’s a real mix. We’ve like Sun readers and Guardian readers fans. It’s a weird one. I don’t want to look into it too much, if you like it, you like it.

A bit like going down well in Europe, too.
Mark: There are some amazing bands in the EU. We saw a Spanish band called Vulk.
Joe: Vulk were amazing. They’re from Bilbao. Kind of dark no-wave post-punk. Real cool. They look fucking cool as well.

How’s it been going since you released your debut?
Mark: Incredible.
Joe: It’s the best thing in the world, man. We weren’t expecting that. We only got 500 vinyl pressed because we thought that would be enough forever, and we’ve had to do two more pressings. Before the release of our album, we’d only ever done one or two dates in a row; we’d never toured before, we’d never sold out a venue before. This is after seven years.
Mark: We were playing to 60-70 people, and now it’s like, a bit more.
Joe: A hundred people! It’s been the best year of my life, and the worst. But that’s another story. It’s been magic. You don’t know do you, it’s like pissing in the wind before you release anything. You put it out there, naked to the world. We didn’t know what to expect. After everything we’d done, and been through, we didn’t have a fucking clue. You know, with most of the lyrics being a bit obnoxious and Dadaist and shit and stupid at times, you don’t know if people are going to get it or not, or whether they accept that they don’t need to get it. Musically, it is what it is. It’s gone really well.

Has it given you a boost?
Joe: Making the album gave us a boost, the reception’s just like a Brucie Bonus. Making the album gave us that boost we needed.
Mark: And that belief.
Joe: Yeah. We loved the album, so that’s what we wanted. Because of that, we were fucking buzzing.

Are you looking to the future at all? Album two?
Mark: Album two’s on its way!

Have you started stuff for it?
Mark: Yeah, yeah, we’ve been working. We’ll record in January probably. We’re going to get it right, we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on.

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