Joe Talbot, the enigmatic frontman of Bristol band IDLES, has been discussing some of the wide-ranging influences on their forthcoming new album Ultra Mono.
The Bristolians new record will be with us on September 25th, which has the challenge of topping their incredible 2018 release Joy As An Act Of Resistance. The album was recorded in Paris and features special guests such as Jehnny Beth, Warren Ellis from The Bad Seeds as well as a somewhat surprising appearance from pianist Jamie Cullum who also appears on the album.
Now, previewing their new work as part of a new interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music to run through his At Home With playlist, Talbot has been debating the label of being a British punk band: “One of the things I’ve always talked about, the influence that hip hop’s had on our music. But one of the things that always kind of got me, I’ve been saying for a long time, we’re not a punk band,” he said.
Adding: “When we started out, someone said ‘What kind of music do you play?’ And I always said recession soul, because it was like… The idea, we were in the first recession and I was like, ‘It’s soul music, man’. Like beauty from ashes, there’s a building in Bristol in a predominantly Afro-Caribbean area that’s now kind of gentrified a bit, but not obscenely like you would see in London… where it said ‘Beauty From Ashes’. And I always thought that was a beautiful thing to think about, what is beauty from ashes? Grief, utilise your grief. You know what? The black community and the Asian community, the immigrants come over here and they make something.
“One, our country. Two, they make something beautiful from little, all ashes. I just think using punk as an adjective is a fucking insult to blues, to calypso, to reggae, to everything that came before punk that was the epitome of what subversive art in the face of adversity really truly is. Whereas it isn’t… Didn’t start in 1975. I’m not going to stand there and just suddenly start attacking someone that uses punk as an adjective, of course not. But it was always a point for me to say, ‘We’re not a punk band’.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Talbot has been explaining about his introverted personality has helped prepare for lockdown amid the current health crisis: “I think I feel really lucky to have had some steep learning curves in my life that meant that I was well equipped for this from day one. One, I’ve got a really comfortable environment. I’ve got a roof over my head, I’m being looked after. But when I was looking after my old dear, I was in Newport, which, it’s a beautiful place for people, and the house that my mum was in was lovely, but it’s a shithole, Thatcher really did a number on South Wales and Newport’s one of the casualties.
“I spent like five days a week on my own in that house, just looking after my mum who because of a stroke couldn’t talk. So I was kind of silent and keeping myself to myself a lot in between looking after her for five years, five days a week. And it made me really appreciate how to utilise my time and also enjoy my own company. And I think as much as I was trying to deny it, this time has really taught me that I’m an introvert, being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy and you don’t talk to people.
“It just means that to process yourself, you need time alone.”
For now though, stream the new song below.