An Interview with Bloc Party

Sat 1st September, 2012 @ 1:04pm by jackrichardson

An Interview with Bloc Party

Three years after the electronic heights of Intimacy, Bloc Party’s newest album, Four, is an entirely different beast fuelled on an entirely different diet of massive guitars, guttural bass, catchy lyrics and an altogether more engaging sound. Recently returning from a lengthy hiatus the band has dived into the new record with the renewed vigour that only a break can bring, and the album’s heavier edge is testament to this. Coming from humble Indie beginnings in Silent Alarm, and gradually moving towards a more electronically-centred sound through A Weekend in The City and Intimacy, this change in sound seems to be a natural progression for the band as they come into their maturity.

Four is still a Bloc Party album, however, and the generous digital delay effects and continued use of electronic instruments – and also a resonator guitar in the beginning of ‘Coliseum’ – retain their idiomatic ‘Bloc Party’ sound, but their increased energy brings something new to the mix. (There’s even some subtle screaming in the aforementioned ‘Coliseum’!)

Catching him in Holland, we quickly chatted to bassist Gordon Moakes about what brought the band back together, how they wrote and recorded Four, his side-project Young Legionnaire, Bloc Party’s massive Earls Court gig in February 2013, and the future of the band over the coming year.


It's great to see you're back from hiatus, how does it feel to be back together as a band?

Gordon Moakes: It’s good, yeah. You know, it was all nerve-racking to start with. We hadn’t played together for three years, but now we’re sort of back in the saddle. We’re been touring for four to six weeks now and it just sort of feels familiar and right.

Was there a specific moment that signalled the end of the hiatus for you?

Gordon Moakes: Well, it’d probably been a year since we’d last toured and we were coming up to Christmas. Matt had been living in New York but his family were still over here in the UK so he’d be coming back to see them. We knew we’d be in the same country at the same time. We met up to see how everyone was and then just started talking about what we’d like to do next.

Four Album Trailer

With Four's release date quickly approaching, does it feel like the end of a long journey because of the length of time taken to record it?

GM: It’s the end of a chapter, yeah, but obviously it’s the beginning as well. Its when everyone hears what we’ve been doing; it becomes public domain. So initially you do all of this in isolation, we were very careful to make sure it was just the four of us creating this music. You know, just coming back into the room together and getting enough songs ready to record to the point where you can actual make something is a long journey in itself. It’s definitely an exciting time to be have a record and be able to put this music in front of people.

I wanted to do something abit more… punishing.

How has the hiatus changed you as a band? Has it changed how you feel about anything?

GM: Yeah, we’re older and we’ve had the benefit of working outside of Bloc Party and seeing how we function away from it. Some of us have been in other bands and have seen how different it can be, and also you kind of learn your strengths as a musician. When you’ve only ever been in one band you could just say “well, it’s luck that I’m doing something”, but with these people it’s never been tested outside of that.

I certainly learnt that I had something to offer. It was something that I did which was very much a part of me, you can’t just reinvent that. It was really nice to know that we all had skills and strengths that really powered the bands and to come back and tap into that again was great.

During the hiatus a few side projects popped up, including you own Young Legionnaire, how was it returning to the height of Bloc Party after these smaller outings?

GM: It was a freeing experience really, to start from scratch again. I think that there was definitely a challenge to that and it’s not easy to start again when you’ve established yourself as a a band. To go back to square one is quite a lot of work really and it’s a hard learning curve. But the best thing about it was just having free reign to do exactly what I felt like, just to sit down and write something new and tap in to something a bit heavier.

I’m currently at Lowlands Festival in Holland and I’ve just been to see Refused and, you know, bands like that were the kind of thing that I wanted to do musically. I wanted to do something abit more… punishing, really. (laughs). Not aggressive, just something with a really different energy, and that was really the point of Young Legionnaire

Will the return of Bloc Party have any effect on these side projects? Would you be interested in taking on any other side-projects?

GM: I don’t know really. Bloc Party is the success we have and it kind of finances the things we can do outside of it, but aside from that every record is different really. And as you go along and look at what you’re doing you sort of have a natural reaction to it after a period, and there comes a time when you feel like you’re ready to do something different again. It’s a cycle really.

Bloc Party - Octopus

People are calling Four a return to the form of Silent Alarm but your newest single ‘Octopus’ seems to signal something different. How did your approach to the writing and recording of the album change for Four?

GM: I suppose this album is a lot more of an organic process. The emphasis was on recording everything live, writing everything up-front, and arranging everything really tightly before we started recording, rather than going into the studio with a loose idea and working on it as you go. We wanted to write and play everything as if we’d toured it for a year and use stuff back-to-front. We wanted it to be a ‘band’ record, really.

It’s just a year zero really, where we can do whatever we’ve ever wanted to.

After the release of Four and the constant touring through October and November, what are the band’s plan for the next year? How are you feeling about the massive Earls Court gig in February?

GM: I don’t know, with this you have to feel that it’s progressing somewhere. Even though this is a big gig to do I think all of us relish that challenge and see is as the next step, instead of just saying “oh, let’s just play a couple of Brixton’s or another Alexandra Palace”. It’s good for a band to feel like you’re doing something brand new.

We can’t predict what next year is going to be like, we’ll probably be doing a lot more festivals next summer, but, you know, for now we’re just happy with this record and haven’t looked too far forward. We’ll then just continue to play the album while there is a demand for people to hear it.

Four Album Cover

Kele has already mentioned in another interview his desire to make another Bloc Party album if you all feel inspired to do so, how do you agree with this?

GM: We’ve definitely felt comfortable with this record and we’ve achieved as much as we ever imagined. I never felt like we had lots and lots of stuff to do, I felt like we were a good band and we’d continue making records while it felt relevant and good for us. It’s impossible to predict how we’ll feel after we’ve toured this record, I would suspect that we would take some more time off and maybe come back to it after another break, but it’s hard to say. We’ll just have to wait and see, never say never I guess.

I would suspect that we would take some more time off and maybe come back to it after another break, but it’s hard to say.

And lastly, in hindsight do you feel that overall having a break to focus on other projects outside of the band has had a beneficial affect on Bloc Party? Would you have done anything differently if you'd have had the chance?

GM: I think the fact is that we would not have made this record at all if there had been a pressure to do it right after the last one. I think the band would have just broken up at that point. We were keen to get some space away from Bloc Party whether or not we did other projects. It was about getting off the treadmill really, and I think that this record is more the stronger for everything we’ve worked on outside to be honest. By just exercising different space and different ideas we’ve come out refreshed and inspired. It’s just a year zero really, where we can do whatever we’ve ever wanted to.


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