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Bloc Party INTERVIEW

Submitted by on Tuesday, 4 September 2012No Comment

BLOC PARTY FRONTMAN KELE OKEREKE OPENS UP ABOUT THE MAKING OF A NEW RECORD IN NEW YORK AND INFINITE SADNESS

After sustaining a few trials, tribulations and tantrums, Bloc Party has managed to reassess what’s important in making punk disco and have vengefully risen from the indie landfill that claimed more than a few of their pastiche contemporaries. Their latest album Four, the band’s first full-length since 2008′s acclaimed Intimacy, has forgone the usual niceties associated with past dance floor friendly releases and side projects and opted for an epic, twisted fairy tale sound that unapologetically blasts you out of your comfort zone. After spending a year abroad in NYC, amongst the cramped recesses of his own introspective, frontman Kele hooked up again with band mates Russell, Gordon and Matt and got the boys back to their shambolic rock roots, fertilized with plenty of ardor and affection, as presented on epic tearjerker tracks Real Talk and Truth. This collection of seemingly fragmented thoughts, produced by Alex Newport (The Mars Volta and Polysics), is cohesive in its personal revelations- emotions are still raw, but what is at times awkwardly clear aurally is that this is BP’s love/hate opus. Kele confesses, “In the past, we have tried to hide the passion with which we perform, tried to obscure it, manipulate it so it doesn’t resemble us anymore.” This is decidedly no longer the case. With tons of screeching guitars in the foreground, and scorching maleficent vocals that tear your soul apart, Bloc Party is finally telling their story that rips at your heart strings and leaves you gushingly raw, searching to find your own splint for proper immobilization. VMAN sat down with Kele to discuss the journey of four guys, their fourth album and what happens on day four. 

PAISLEY DALTON Is this your return to rock?

KELE OKEREKE It’s definitely more of a rock record than our previous records. It’s a sort of rock and roll that we haven’t played in a really long time. It’s really heavy. It doesn’t feel like the past. It feels like a new direction. We’ve always been a rock band. What is a rock band in the 21st century if it’s not aware of the music that’s going on around it? It’s about paying homage to the music that’s been around us.

Is it a ‘love is pain’ opus?

KO I’ve got no idea what this record is about! There’s no overview. When I started writing the music, I just wrote about the first things on my mind. Would I say it’s about love? I don’t know. Love is important to me. It’s something I will always write about. The redemptive power of love is something that is pretty important to me and always will be.

In the song “V.A.L.I.S.”, you state, “He is not the real me”, whilst giving a list of things that ‘He’ is into. Who is the real Kele?

KO There is a Kele for all seasons…a Kele for all occasions! Like in Grease 2(singing) “I’ll be your girl for all seasons…all the year through.” I think that all the different facets of my personality—singer, musician, human being—they’re all part of the real me. There isn’t one Kele that’s hiding from the real world.

You seem a bit jilted in “Team A”. Has somebody done you wrong?

KO I’m quite at peace at the moment. That song was inspired by my time in New York City. I was living there for a year. And also by my experiences with this drug called Adderall. Lot’s of people in the art scene that I seemed to be coming in contact with were telling me about the new ‘wonder drug’ that seemed to be enhancing everyone’s productivity and focus. From my experiences, interacting with people that were on said drug, it was just ghastly! On more than one occasion, I was eavesdropping on what people were saying and the conversation seemed completely dehumanized. That’s what “Team A” is about…living in New York, wanting to get ahead, and being willing to push anyone out of the way that’s coming for something you want, that brutal unbridled ambition.

Were you lonely in New York?

KO I did spend a lot of time by myself, but I wasn’t despairing. It was a time to think, to reflect and observe.

Did the boys you observed love your accent?

KO Yeah! It was a strange cultural dissonance. When I started speaking to people, they expected me to sound a very different way. I don’t think they expected me to have an English accent per se. In America, people are used to heavy English accents on people who look like Hugh Grant. Initially, I think people did think I was putting it on. I don’t really know how Americans regard the English. I get a sense that they see us as being quite parochial…buffoons! It was interesting encountering people’s stereotypes of that sort of behavior. People also have stereotypes about black people. So when they heard me speak, I think it caused a dissonance.

You infer a lot on this album about surrendering yourself completely to someone else for love. Is that healthy or desperate?

KO Perhaps it’s not the safest thing, the smartest thing. Falling in love is an act of surrendering…when it is so total. It’s scary not to be in control, but it’s a prerequisite of falling for someone. You might get hurt. You might get your heart broken. But it doesn’t mean anything unless you’re willing to go all the way. It has to be all or nothing!

Bands like The Cure and The Smiths sing about similar topics. Is there beauty in infinite sadness?

KO There is a certain melancholy about their music. It’s beautiful! It does transport you. It was a different period for music. When musicians strove to be artists. They strove to make music that has a wealth of emotions. That’s why that music still resonates. It’s comforting.

What happens on “Day Four?”

KO Relapse! The day the urge comes back. Not being able to break the cycle.

FOUR is out now on Frenchkiss Records

 

(via VMAN)

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