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Bright lights, big city
In a highly revealing interview, Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke talks about the inspiration behind one of the albums of the year, his current listening and the band's plans for the future.
Paul Nolan, 10 Dec 2007
If one band made a great leap forward in 2007, it was Bloc Party. The group followed up their superb debut album, Silent Alarm, with A Weekend In The City, a record that enjoyed excellent reviews and considerable commercial success, including a highly impressive top-twenty chart placing in the US.
The album was one of the best of the year, a collection of thumping, danceable tunes (offset by quieter, more melancholy moments) which boasted genuinely compelling and insightful lyrics that managed the very difficult trick of capturing the zeitgeist. As the title suggests, A Weekend In The City is the sound of urban life in the 21st century.
Fittingly, in such a capital year for Bloc Party, Hot Press joins the group’s singer, Kele Okereke, and drummer, Matt Tong, on the day of their biggest headlining show to date, at the Big Top in the Phoenix Park. Having finished the photo-shoot outside, the duo retire to their dressing room in the marquee behind the stage, where they seat themselves on the small couch and Kele jokingly suggests that I conduct the interview from the opposite side of the room.
Finally, I am permitted to pull up a chair and talk to the pair at somewhat closer quarters. I begin by asking about Bloc Party’s performance at Live Earth back in July, a big weekend for the band which also saw them play at Oxegen and T In The Park. Did they feel they’d furthered the cause of environmental awareness afterwards?
“We did our bit for spreading the good message,” nods Kele. “And at the end of the day, that’s all you can do.”
“I felt like a rabbit in the headlights,” admits Matt. “Drummers don’t normally feel like that at all, ’cos we don’t think about much, whereas Kele was really good actually, he got everyone to do a Mexican wave.”
“The thing is, I kind of miscalculated,” rues Kele. “Because Wembley Stadium is so large, it took about five minutes for the wave to go around, and you only have about 15 minutes to perform, so we had to start the song in the middle of it.”