Lice sound like they’re going to fall apart at any given second. They’ve been notching up quite the attention with their fierce prose delivery and frantic live shows recently. On the eve of their sold out UK tour supporting Idles, we met up with frontman Alastair Shuttleworth and Idles' Joe Talbot to discuss the somewhat logical partnership.
The smartly dressed and slightly late Alastair sips his pint and says, “the signing is emblematic of them being there to support us for a long time, they’ve acted like big brothers to us.” He struggles to get the praise out quick enough for Idles’ member Joe and the rest of the band. “They’ve got a few years on us, they’ve been through it and have all this experience as musicians and people and have constantly been there with advice. I’m very humbled because they’re the best band in the world at the moment.”
Joe echoes this. “We made a lot of mistakes and we want to be able to provide more than money, records and some sort of step up. We also want to be able to give good advice. We’ve gone the long route because we had to. I don’t think we’d be as good as we are now without the journey that we’ve taken.” The input has also been a bit more hands on as with Joe directing the music video for the new single ‘Stammering Bill’ which heads up their new double EP ‘It All Worked Out Great’ – to be released on Joe’s Balley Records. The release draws a line under everything they’ve done so far and is a perfectly unsettling introduction to the band.
Alastair says the release is born out of a certain negative energy. “I find hate an amazing well of inspiration. There’s avenues for short stories, characters and weird dark jokes. I feel like my literary interests like essays, monologues and stuff come to the fore. That’s why I write in prose rather than in anything abstract or poetic.” Joe feels he couldn’t have had any other band launching the label. “I think they’re an important band and they’re doing their own thing which is vital in a current sea of music that’s become standardised. Lice are a significant band and they fill me with joy when I watch them live. They’re fucking great.”
While Lice do channel that slurring and spontaneous energy like their favourites The Fall and Fat White Family, they’ve actually got their heads screwed on pretty tightly. “Away from the band we’re very different from what people might expect. I’m currently studying and when I finish all four of us will have masters degrees,”says Alastair.“Mine’s English which is easy but they’ve got Physics and Aerospace Engineering.” The band actually lobbed a Physics textbook in-front of Alastair and told him to recite it at their first practice. “I was nervous about doing that. I was very clear with them, I said ‘I don’t know how to fucking sing’. I kept doing that and became a fan of The Fall so it stuck. It was a combination of being nervous and not knowing what the fuck I was doing.”
Now the focus for both bands is the upcoming sold out tour which will see them tackle some pretty huge rooms – but there’s no nerves. Alastair reasons, “We’re the best live band we’ve ever been. You kind of are the company you keep. We toured with Idles last year and it was like a masterclass on how to play live and make people feel like part of the gig. I can’t tell you how excited I am.” Joe is simply thrilled to be putting a spotlight on another great Bristol band. “To act as a trojan horse and allow bands that we like to be in a sphere of opportunity that we didn’t get is great. It’s a bit like having a plus one to a party. It feels amazing, it feels exciting and it feels like a privilege that we have that in our hands.”