The Bris­to­lian beat­maker gives us the in­side track on Idles’ main­stream suc­cess

Rhythm - - CONTENTS - Words: Adam Jones pho­tos: ADAM GAS­SON

With the re­lease of their de­but al­bum,

Bru­tal­ism, in 2017 Idles were cat­a­pulted into the bright lights of the main­stream. Sound­ing like none of their con­tem­po­raries, the Bris­tol-based quin­tet bel­lowed a roar of de­fi­ance in the face of ad­ver­sity, giv­ing the beige-tinged mu­sic scene a boot up the prover­bial in the process.

Bru­tal­ism’s raw­ness, anger, ur­gency and, above all, tune­ful­ness found it cited as al­bum of the year by many, and it’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say it makes es­sen­tial lis­ten­ing in the con­fused and un­cer­tain times we live in. If ever a band had come along at pre­cisely the right mo­ment, it was Idles.

Fronted by bruis­ing vo­cal­ist Joe Tal­bot – a sort of think­ing woman’s alpha male – and driven by the scratchy and sting­ing gui­tars of Mark Bowen and Lee Kier­nan, thun­der­ing bass of Adam Devon­shire and the spiky, su­per-tight drum­ming of Jon Beavis, Idles cre­ate the sort of no frills yet thrilling post-punk that leaves even 50-some­things like your cor­re­spon­dent leap­ing around the room with youth­ful aban­don.

The di­rect­ness of the mu­sic is matched by the lyri­cal con­tent; by turns con­fronta­tional, cryp­tic, re­veal­ing and vul­ner­a­ble – oc­ca­sion­ally all in the same sen­tence – the lyrics por­tray a street-level view of life in aus­ter­ity Bri­tain with un­flinch­ing hon­esty. De­spite the sober­ing sub­ject mat­ter, at its heart the al­bum (and the band) con­vey a mes­sage of dogged op­ti­mism.

To hear just how well the words and mu­sic mesh to­gether lis­ten to ‘Well Done’ and note how the band – led by a manic tribal tom beat-cums tut­ter­ing shuf­fle – pro­vide the per­fect foil to the acer­bic lyrics. Chaotic it might sound, but this is well-or­gan­ised chaos. It fig­ures that while Idles may have burst into pub­lic con­scious­ness with

Bru­tal­ism, theirs was no overnight suc­cess; years of play­ing, writ­ing and hon­ing have gone into get­ting the band to this point. Bru­tal­ism’s suc­ces­sor – Joy As An Act of Re­sis­tance – is one of 2018’s most ea­gerly-an­tic­i­pated re­leases and looks set to pro­pel the band fur­ther into the lime­light.

Over the past 18 month Idles have toured al­most con­stantly, ce­ment­ing their rep­u­ta­tion as a truly great live band. And this most Bri­tish of acts has found that its ap­peal has gone global (their fol­low­ing in Amer­ica alone is al­ready beyond cult); the band’s tour itin­er­ary is head-spin­ning. Rhythm spoke to ge­nial sticks­man Jon Beavis back­stage at yet an­other sold-out gig.

It’s just over a year since Bru­tal­ism was re­leased – how has it changed your world?

“March last year was our first ‘proper’ tour; the al­bum came out one week into it, we didn’t re­ally know what to ex­pect and it just blew up. My whole dream was just to get in a cool band, play in Bris­tol and be a Bris­tol drum­mer, and that’s gone to play­ing across the world, which is frankly, just in­sane.”

Were you sur­prised at the re­cep­tion the al­bum got?

“We were all pretty sure that it was up there; it was def­i­nitely the right time to re­lease that sort of mu­sic, given the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate. Peo­ple needed some­thing that was in their face, re­ally ur­gent and pow­er­ful.”

So from do­ing your first ‘proper’ tour in March 2017 you then spent the sum­mer play­ing fes­ti­vals in Europe...

“It was in­ter­est­ing to go be­tween coun­tries and see how ev­ery­one re­acted to it, be­cause in the UK ev­ery­one can un­der­stand the lyrics and sing back. One of the best crowds was the OFF fes­ti­val in Poland; we were on in the af­ter­noon and the tent was com­pletely packed and ev­ery­one was go­ing crazy... it was like, ‘How have they heard of us?’ To get that sort of re­ac­tion was in­cred­i­ble. And then from there we went to the States and same thing, ev­ery­one just gets it.”

It’s sur­pris­ing how well it’s trans­lated in the States...

“It’s very Bri­tish, but I think part of it is our whole show, that’s a big tick for us as well. If you come and watch us you’re not go­ing to hear the al­bum played per­fectly; live, it’s dif­fer­ent ev­ery night. The gui­tarist (Mark Bowen) hardly plays gui­tar,

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