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No false Idles

By Kyle Walker

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Glancing at their upcoming schedule, it quickly becomes apparent that Bristolian punk proselytisers Idles’ band name couldn’t be more false.

The band’s star has not so much risen as exploded since the release of last March’s brutal, cathartic debut full length Brutalism. Over the last year, the band have toured the UK, toured festivals, toured America and toured Russia – leaving a sweaty, savage and ecstatic morass of bodies in their wake wherever they go.

So catching them up in Inverness for their Highland bow, when they support Baltimore synth pop darlings Future Islands at the Ironworks is an unexpected pairing. It’s certainly interesting, to say the least.

But for frontman Joe Talbot – speaking from the tour van as Idles drive back to Barcelona for a flight home following yet more festival dates (this time Primavera and This is Not a Love Song Festival) over the weekend – it couldn’t be better.

“Yeah – I think interesting is the right word,” he says, his voice cracking on the phone as the signal in the Basque mountain range cuts in and out. “Like, I think some people might think it’s an odd mix – but I think it’s the perfect mix.

“It’s like, both of us have been working hard for a long time to get where we are and I think we both encapsulate a spirit of joy and openmindedness and just, like, a vigour towards performing your art. All sorts of stuff – I think it’s the perfect match to be honest.”

Honesty is the watch word of Idles – it’s a concept that Joe returns to often – and it’s one that has defined the band’s music. The album Brutalism is filled with a lot of ideas, but none moreso than honesty.

And it’s that honesty that Joe believes has helped launch Idles to a recognition wide enough to see them play gigs on opposite ends of the world during a 2017 he describes as “a slow and steady snowball to where we are now”.


“I think there is a distinct lack of honesty in popular culture,” he continues, “and I think we kind of embraced the natural construct of popular music and how people addressed the audiences all with a new narrative, you know?

“I think our message is honest and I think our message is poignant and violent and loving and I think it might be confusing at first, but it’s pretty basic – we’re just trying to be as honest as possible, and there’s a lot to talk about.

“So I think people were missing that, you know – I think the world around them and what was projected towards them was a bit too glossy. I think we’ve just filled a small void that people are starting to appreciate.”

And oh how people have appreciated it. Idles’ fans – the AF Gang as they’re lovingly known – are passionate about the band and their music, with almost 4000 members on their Facebook group. “I think because we made ourselves vulnerable to the audiences, people feel safe to be vulnerable back – that opens up a tight community of people that didn’t have that in music before, or haven’t for a while.

“Like if you present yourself as like a God on stage or an untouchable perfect being that doesn’t make mistakes as such then people won’t feel the confidence to empathise with that.

“But I think we’re – without sounding like a ***head – we are, you know, normal people who just have a very abnormal platform, and it’s a great opportunity to highlight the beauty of the mundane and highlight the violence of life.”

Idles support Future Islands at the Ironworks on Tuesday night. For more information, go to www.idlesband.co.uk

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