The world can feel like a dark place. We're in the middle of what seems to be a constant global crisis. It's as if fear and suspicion could be found around every corner if we let it, and the more we dwell on it, the darker all it can seem. There are no easy answers, but for Idles, the response is deceptively straightforward: practising as they preach, the band are striving to better and brighten who they are and how they act - improving the world around them as a result. It's a feat they've long worked at achieving, one storming punk song at a time.
"We intended to be as honest and hardworking and normal as possible," frontman Joe Talbot portrays. True to form, Idles have never made any bones about who they are. A storm of culture, politics, attitude, humour, and resounding sentiment you can practically feel take root in your gut, this is a band who bare their heart on their sleeve, and ask only that you do the same.
Their motivation is as honest as the music they make. "If you're using your privilege as a band and writing music and making something and expressing yourself and having an audience, we feel that the dialogue that you create with your audience should have purpose and it should mean something," Joe expresses. "Whether that's something as intricate as talking about a flower, or as grand as emotion, it all deserves a real empathy and a human approach which is powerful."
"That's why a lot of our music and our shows are so violent," he continues. "That vehicle of violence and that tone of passion comes through, because we really fucking love what we do. We feel that if you do something, you don't go gently into it. You do it full pelt, wholeheartedly."
With their second album, Idles have done exactly that. 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' does exactly what it says on the tin: lashing out at the world through vulnerability and openness, the record is a venture towards love and acceptance – both within and without. "We're just portraying normality and making it beautiful and interesting," Joe summarises.
Cynical and empowered, angered and tenacious, desolate and electrified, and more besides, Idles' second album is a portrait of normality in all of its unfaltering technicolour glory. "This album was about vulnerability and becoming vulnerable as a tool of evoking vulnerability from the audience," Joe explains. "I wanted to use vulnerability as a tool to change that perception of the singer and what it truly is to be honest."
To offer a sense of vulnerability, Idles first had to be vulnerable. "I realised that I wasn't really as open and honest as I thought that I was," Joe describes. Struggling after the loss of his daughter, the frontman turned to his music, and to the album-in-progress' eponymous mantra, "as a way of succeeding and getting through the trauma."
"It was a point where I had to learn how to grieve in a different way, and to improve myself," Joe portrays. "With this second album, there's a change in behaviours and an approach to self-improvement and loving yourself." Raging against the toxic nature of masculinity, the pressure of living up to cultural ideals, and so much more, 'Joy Is An Act Of Resistance' is a call to openness, honesty, and acceptance through rallying acceptance.
"The album became about self-improvement," Joe distils. "It's using vulnerability as an inclusive tool to make people feel welcome into a community, so that they then themselves can become vulnerable and open their minds to new ideas and new people. It's about learning to love yourself as a way of becoming a better person within a community, and building communities through self-awareness and self-love."
A reverence towards community has always been present in Idles' music, but it's never resounded as strongly as on their new record. The riffs are bigger, the choruses are catchier, and the album is practically crying out to be sung along to arm in arm. Listening to the record offers a real sense of sharing in struggles, sentiment, and worth, and having a blasted good time in the process – and this is exactly what Idles are all about. It comes as no surprise to see that this sense of community the band prize so highly, their pride in what they're creating and the messages they're conveying, continues to inspire a unique adoration in their audiences on an ever-increasing scale.
"The more we've grown and the more our audiences have grown, the more people are feeling like they want to be part of that," Joe enthuses. "They want to feel like it's okay to be broken and sad, and not normal to the populous but actually feeling safe and comfortable in a community that celebrates differences and celebrates imperfections."
Such a community can be found in the one that the band continue to cultivate through their AF Gang, an ever-growing group of fans and friends drawn together by a passion for the band and a wholehearted belief in the mantra "all is love". "It's beautiful," Joe expresses. "It's a wonderful thing to feel like being part of something greater than us."
"We wanted to show that we are shit and vulnerable and crap at a lot of things, but we are passionate about what we do," he conveys. This shared and unwavering passion for their music, for their shows, and for anyone and everyone who engages in that with them has made one thing resolutely clear: Idles are truly a band worth believing in.
"It's become a real strength of mine, understanding that the more I open up to people, the more I learn about myself," Joe reflects. "I just wanted to be as open and honest as possible." A record that strives to offer anyone who hears it "a sense of confidence in loving themselves," 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' portrays a sense of spirit at its most empowered.
For anyone who has ever felt (in the immortal words of F. Scott Fitzgerald) "within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life," this one is for you. With the promise that they'll "keep going until someone cuts my head off," this is only the beginning of what Idles are capable of. So, as they themselves invite on 'Great'. "Won't you take my hand, sister, and sing with me in time?"
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Idles' album 'Joy as an Act of Resistance' is out 31st August.
Featuring Spring King, Idles, Slaves, Friendly Fires, Our Girl and more.