Kendal quartet Wild Beasts celebrated the release of their fourth album Present Tense with a performance at the BBC 6 Music Festival.
Far Out Magazine had a chat with Ben Little and Hayden Thorpe from the band about the new material, their “foster home” of Manchester and just how far they would go to do Marc Riley a favour.
How does it feel to be here at the festival?
It’s been really nice timing for us actually, this is one of the most northern places so far that we’ve taken it [Present Tense] and you can tell now that the new album has come out. It’s nice seeing people reacting well to it.
You spend years designing songs for these perfect moments of subtlety and reaction, so then if that moment never comes, you think ‘oh shit, back to the drawing board’, but now people have heard them it feels nice.
Is that something you always try and visualise when writing?
We did with this record more than others; Smother was such a non-live album, although it worked really well in the end. This time there were situations where we thought ‘if we had this kind of song in our arsenal, it would go down a storm’.
Also you become better at your craft over time, there’s always a danger of trying to sound too epic, feeling like you need the most drummers, the most guitars and the biggest sounding strings. The craft is being able to do so much more with less when you’re doing it right.
A band like The National are absolute masters at it, they’ve got epic songs, but they’re not made of epic moments, it’s like they know when to twist the knife.
Is there something unique about playing in a huge warehouse space quite different from the venues you would normally tour?
Yeah it’s cool, we’ve never actually been to Warehouse Project. It’s great though, like a proper rave, there’s no soap in the toilets; this is what it’s all about.
Frankly, it’s also nice just to be in Manchester. All our first teenage gigs were here, places like the Apollo. It feels like home, in fact it’s the closest thing we get to a hometown show. We’re from Kendal, which is no kind of show at all. It’s kind of our foster home Manchester.
How does it feel to play this event given that 6 Music came so close to being closed down?
It goes to show what a loss it would have been. It was nonsense that there were plans to shut it down when you look at how the budgets work. You wouldn’t have saved that much money by cutting 6 Music, but you would have been losing a whole strata of art. It’s one of the mainstays of creative music, it’s very powerful.
This is really quite a special event when you think about it. We can’t thank 6 Music enough. People like Marc Riley have followed us from the very start. If it wasn’t for them I don’t know where we would be, things would definitely have been different.
BBC 6 Music play you when no one else will, so when others start playing you it’s good to remember them. It comes back around, we’d do anything for Marc Riley, well actually we don’t know what he wants us to do!
Do you think the electronic element to the new album will complement Victoria Warehouse?
We’ve got some pretty severe bass, this record has got far more concrete in it than others. You couldn’t call it an urban record though, there aren’t any raps on there, but it does suit these kind of cavernous venues.
There’s something great about playing these spaces, there’s a bit of danger there to keep you on your toes. Trafford Park, it’s a dangerous place!
What about Manchester’s musical heritage, was it an influence?
When we discovered The Smiths that was a huge revelation. What we really identified with was that kind of grey, brick ethos, like a grey sky way of thinking, we were familiar with that. But out of that also comes flamboyance and an audacity that comes out of nowhere, it’s inspiring.