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It’s fair to say that Bristol 5-piece IDLES have stormed the live scene in the last four years. In 2021 they’re three albums in and have toured the world more than once. Their latest album Ultra Mono reached the well deserved No.1 spot on the UK album chart and the band have revolutionised the notion of a Facebook Group with their following of kindhearted and supportive fans who help eachother out on a personal level.

Paula Frost interviewed the band back in 2017 when they were playing small clubs in support of their debut album release ‘Brutalism’. Playing Guildford’s The Boileroom, Joe chatted before the show…

Who’s an inspiring singer for you?

Otis Redding. I can’t sing like him but I love his passion, tone and approach. He was full of energy, loved what he did and never stopped working. He’s amazing!

When did you start playing and what drew you to music?

I started getting into music when I started the band with Dev the bassist about 7 years ago now. We were DJing at the time and we thought; “Why not? Let’s give it a bash!” And I loved it.

Your sound has developed massively, what changed?

None of us had been in bands before until Lee joined. We had to learn our own voice and each other’s rhythms and get to know each other in. To do that we had to find a common ground and that was the music around us. We liked what we were writing at the time but it wasn’t enough of what we were, we had to find our voice and that takes ages. To star with you lean on stuff around you, you don’t instantly become creative. You have to learn the basics first.

Do you go to gigs together as a band?

Yeah we all went to see Meat Raffle, but we’re working all the hours God sends at the moment.  Dev gets to see a lot of bands because he runs a venue.

Where did you record your new album ‘Brutalism’?

We recorded at Razor studios in Wandsworth. Our guitarist is terrible so we had to mask it with rhythm and the drum sound in that place is perfect for us. We recorded it all live, each song only had 3 takes and that captured the urgency of our sound. It was amazing!

Do you ever get nervous before a show?

No never! That’s a lie, I get nervous at random gigs. I have anxiety as a person so that manifests at different times, but not when I’m onstage. I just get excited. I’m nervous about supporting The Maccabees!

Your lyrics and delivery are really unique, how does it all come together?

Thank you! I watched some artists I love and adopted some of their techniques. I grew up on hip hop and grime and love their delivery. Biggy Smalls is a genius the way he uses words to create a rhythm with his own voice. Even my grandma can’t help bobbing her head to that beat. I also love Nick Cave and people who can tell a dark story. But I had to strip it back and do what I’m good at which is being sarky. I can sum things up very quickly too, letting the band write a song before I go away and write the lyrics. I’ve never spelt things out for people.

Do you get much time to yourself outside of the band?

Yeah my favourite pastime is being shouted at by my girlfriend. Nah there’s no time really, but I don’t care about going out and getting pissed because I’ve worked 6 years to get here with the band and the feeling you get from touring and playing to people is the best feeling in the world. 

Photos by Lindsay Melbourne