These Bristolian post-punks’ lyrics cut bone-deep
‘The Best way
to scare a Tory is to read and get rich’ – pulling no punches as to their political affiliations and as unapologetic as any band (punk, rock or metal) before them, Idles’ arrival on the UK music scene is strong empirical evidence that extreme political landscapes produce great art. But where other bands merely paddle in the muddy waters of social thought,
Idles submerge themselves entirely.
“The dish of the day is politics,” says frontman Joe Talbot. “But you can’t just say, ‘We’re a political band’ – what do you believe in? Spell referendum!”
Possessed of a sardonic wit that evokes the punk spirit of ’77 while welding it to a more modern, visceral tone, Idles take the venom of hardcore, the social injustice inspiration and post-punk intonation of Sleaford Mods, and add a crunching metallic twist to create something truly left-field.
But then, what else would you expect from a band that formed from the dying embers of the Bristol indie scene? Not because Idles felt a part of it, of course – quite the opposite. This is a group of people who never felt at home, er, at home, and they are now ably blazing their own trail. “The bands we were surrounded by didn’t really represent us – they were a bunch of rich kids with nice guitars who weren’t writing about anything to our interests,” Joe notes. In what would become a staple approach, the band tackled the issue head-on. Their sound wasn’t crafted overnight, however. “For a while we were writing what we thought we should write, rather than what we wanted to,” he explains. “It evolved into something heavier later on and felt more cathartic, more us.”
“When I discovered metal, I found my first real connection with music,” adds rhythm guitarist Lee Kiernan. “People don’t realise how much melody there is within metal. It’s not all thrash. Personally, I’m a huge 80s fan. I love bands like Def Leppard… I even love
Bon Jovi. The guy’s a genius: a pop, rock, metal genius!”
Love for Jon-Bon
or no, Idles’ music is a world away from the 80s stadium-fillers. Yet, it still possesses enough fire to ignite audiences to such an extent that the band have enjoyed not only a mostly sold-out UK tour, but a string of appearances at most of the UK’s biggest festivals. “It was an honour to play Download,” Lee adds.
“It’s Glastonbury, but catered to a very different audience...”
With a visceral, appropriately angular debut album in Brutalism and a reputation for frenetic live performances (“I’d rather someone come away from our shows thinking ‘That was fucking horrible’ than say ‘That was OK’,” Joe says), Idles are the full, righteous package. But, furious though the band may be, they don’t exclude anyone from enjoying their gigs.
“It’s not OK to attack anyone, no matter what they believe in. Everyone should be able to express themselves freely. If Theresa May came to one of our shows, it would still be her safe space!”
It’s a nice gesture, but we’re not totally sure she’ll be taking you up on that any time soon, fellas.
Idles: the soundtrack
to your next rally