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December 2020 / January 2021

Idles: "We’re not going to change the world, but we’re going to change our world”

Idles understand that sometimes it feels as though everything’s in the shitter, but they’re going to try their best to make a difference anyway - and you can too.
Published: 11:50 am, June 14, 2018
Idles: "We’re not going to change the world, but we’re going to change our world”
With a new album on the way, Idles are starting to make their ominous rumble heard even louder. With two tracks revealed - the brilliant 'Colossus' and equally fantastic 'Danny Nedelko' - one of the planet's most vital live forces are following up their critically-lauded, genuinely awesome debut album 'Brutalism' with a real promise of something huge.

Obviously, that's the sort of real world buzz that gets your mates at Dork over excited and more than a little bit nosy. We grabbed hold of Joe Talbot and the Idles tower of power to find out what's coming.

Hello, Joe from Idles. How was life been since you released ‘Brutalism’?
It’s been a steady incline, it hasn’t knocked us off our feet, and it’s made us feel more and more privileged as it goes on. Every week there’s something new, and we embrace that as it comes, then we leave it behind and move on. It’s been fucking stunning.

Tell us about the new album.
It’s done. It’s finished. It’s really good. It’s more succinct; it’s more powerful, it’s more honest. It’s a very concise piece of art that we fucking love and I’m really excited to play it, and enjoy it.

This is the first record you’ve written where you know people are listening and will hear it. Did that impact things?
That’s the thing. That’s where it all changed. We started writing the second record, knowing, realising and finding out what people enjoyed on the first album and what they didn’t enjoy. So we started to overthink our writing. We started to do what we did years before that, which was try and subside our own wants and needs for other people’s.
As an artist, you shouldn’t do that ever because it’s not what people want. So we scrapped it and started again. I went through some horrific life occurrences during the second album, and it made me realise I will never give a fuck what people think, as long as I’m honest and I’m kind, and I’m compassionate. It made me realise that it’s completely fine, nothing bad is going to happen if you become vulnerable to your audience. In life, people embrace that. If you share your problems, people will help you. That’s how it works, and I’m enjoying that, and that’s what the album is about.

Your band shares ideas and messages, but it’s never absolute. You never talk down to people or tell them what to do.
There are two ways you can be a preacher. You can be the Catholic kind of preacher, where you tell people what to do, and tell them what the punishment will be or you do it like. What’s the phrase, maybe a guru? Lead by example. Just live how you believe you want people to live. So, we just treat each other with respect onstage, give each other a kiss at the start, break down some of the barriers of what people think a man should do as a rock musician and just be nice, and smile and dance about like no one is watching. People go ‘ah, that seems like fun and want to get involved. Often it works. And if it doesn’t, I’m not going to tell anyone off.

"pull" text="I know people are capable of fucking magic

There’s a definite physicality to your music. How do you police that so people of smaller stature don’t get hurt?
I said that we’d never had that issue where we had to stop people being dicks in an interview just before a tour we did recently. The interviewer came to a show, and it was the first time we had to do that. It’s a really fine art and I certainly haven’t mastered it. I don’t know how to stop people being pricks. Sometimes to be a good friend, you have to tell your friend to stop being a prick. Respectfully I can say look, this is not what our music is about, can you please treat each other with some respect?

Do you think what you’re doing with this band is important?
Absolutely it’s important. It’s important for everyone in this room, in this country, in this world, to be able to enjoy expressing themselves. That’s art. That’s what art is. We just happen to be doing on a platform where we get paid but the importance of what we do is that we improve as people, and we enjoy our being, doing and existing. Lovingly expressing yourself is the most productive thing you can do in life.

What do you want to achieve with this second album?
Enough money to support my cocaine habit. I’ve actually been sober for three months now, from booze and all the naughty stuff. What do I want from the second album? I want to instil a new optimism that’s based on pragmatic thinking. I want my friends and my family and our listeners to feel like there’s a future where you can listen to your adversaries, and build a new existence together, as a collective.
When you appreciate each other’s differences, and you can move forward without sectarian solutions. It’s not about saying this is mine, get out. Instead, you should be saying, ‘Okay, you’re completely different to me, I don’t agree with you, let’s sit down and learn from each other’. That’s what I’d love for the album to do.
But it’s just an album. What we’re doing is minor, but it’s about spreading our collective ideologies as a way of just celebrating difference. And maybe a few people will start that conversation amongst themselves after the album is finished, and it will spread a bit.
We’re not going to change the world, but we’re going to change our world by doing this. This is us being better people, that’s all. From my perspective, what I’d love is for it to change the world. What I think it’ll do is change us as people and artists and friends.

How do you stay inspired?
I stay inspired because it’s not all negative. Of course it can get better. Human beings don’t want to fucking eat each other. We just need to sit down with people that are racist and say, I understand why you’re angry, you are poor, you’ve had your job taken away from you and your government aren’t allowing you to have any breathing space at your home, in a high rise, at your job that doesn’t exist anymore, with food banks, that are now being split between more and more people. I get it; you want someone to blame.
When my daughter died, I wanted to blame someone. I was angry at the universe, but there’s no one to blame. It was just random savagery. People want a quick fix, look at Brexit. They want to smash something up, but optimism is just hopeful pragmatism.
I know everyone is capable of love and understanding. It just takes time. The media and the Tory government, they want us to eat each other. They want us to panic and they want us to be scared, and to blame someone. But I am hopeful because I know people are capable of fucking magic.

Taken from the July issue of Dork. Order a copy here. Idles’ album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ is out 31st August.

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