“We’re being recognised in a vapid chamber” – IDLES tell us about their BRITs nomination and their next album

'We are a message to the boring'

IDLES frontman Joe Talbot has spoken of the “magical” and “fucking stunning” surprise of being nominated for a BRIT Award, as well as progress on their upcoming third album.

This week, IDLES were listed among the nominations for the 2019 BRIT Awards – where they’re up for ‘British Breakthrough Act’ against Ella Mai, Jorja Smith, Mabel and Tom Walker (you can cast your vote here) – off the back of the success of their acclaimed 2018 album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance‘.

“It’s a surprise, and something that we won’t take for granted,” Talbot told NME. “It’s easy to turn your nose up at the drab pop culture that there is at the moment, but I think it’s magic. I think it’s fucking stunning that we’re being recognised in a vapid chamber.”


As for the groundswell and campaign behind the public vote in their favour, Talbot continued: “I think that’s the only way we’ll ever win anything like this! You know, the industry is kind of fixed in a certain way and I think people are getting bored of that. I think we are part of the change, so people are excited as using as some sort of message to the boring.

“It’s beautiful. I haven’t paid attention to the BRIT Awards since Jarvis Cocker did what he did. I’ve literally never said the words ‘BRIT Awards’ until the other day. You can’t ignore it. It’s a beautiful thing. We’ll use it as a great opportunity to carry on doing what we’re doing and spread the message.”

Would he do a Jarvis and flash his arse to Ed Sheeran?

“No, no, no. That sort of thing is not my bag. I’m into my work, my music and using that as the message.”

Read our full interview with Talbot below, where he also discusses the inspiration behind and progress on album number three, which they hope to release next year.

Idles performing in Birmingham last year (Picture: Katja Ogrin/Redferns)

With the BRITs nomination and ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ coming in high on so many end of year polls, has this level of acceptance and knowing that there’s a guaranteed audience for you changed your approach to writing?


“The audience has nothing to do with it. We’re not going to change what we do for reactions. We made that mistake with ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’. We spent ages trying to sustain some sort of popularity because [debut album] ‘Brutalism’ did so well with some publications. We got caught up in that shit. The more you want to be loved, the less like yourself you become. As an artist, you’re supposed to be a mouth-piece of your own philosophy. The more you try and imitate what you think is good, the more you imitate other people.”

So it’s a clean slate?

“Yeah, we’re staring into the abyss at the moment. The start of the album is the hardest bit. We’ve got about 18 or 19 ideas which we’re just going to whittle down and keep writing until we’re happy. We’ve got the idea of the album, we’ve got the title, we’ve got the artwork set, we’ve got the ideas. We’re just working through everything piece-by-piece like we did with the first two.

“We’re over trying to please other people now. We’re just trying to enjoy ourselves and make music that we love.”

Are you planning to keep up the pace and release one album per year?

“Absolutely not. I don’t want to be in a room with these guys for that amount of time! But no, we’re not that good or that prolific, but we do have a lot of ideas at the moment.”

Where do you want to take your sound from here?

“The only departure is development. You’re always evolving. It’s the next step along from ‘Joy…’ and ‘Brutalism’. This is the third. You can see the progression and regression in some ways. It’s us, but a year older. We got bored of certain things and excited by others. We want to write more techno, we want to write more noise, we want to write more pop, and we want to write more country. We’ll just write it until it sounds like something we love, then we’ll put the words on top.”

Idles. (Photo: Jenn Five/NME)

Do you have any words penned at the moment?

“I don’t write lyrics until the songs are done. I’m not fussed about getting the words out yet. Then I just listen to the song until something pops into my head and do it in one go. But there’s plenty of stuff going on in my life to allow me to write so I’m sure it’ll be fine. There are a lot of people I want to punch.”

On this tumultuous week for Brexit especially?

“Well, the Brexit vote will not mean what you think. It’s a fucking ruse. We’re fucked either way at the moment. The deal is not a deal. The Tories are not even Tories at the moment – they’re a distracted bunch of fucking greedy pigs. And Labour are a mess.

“We’ve spent fuckloads of money on lawyers to re-programme European laws just in case we lose the EU and people don’t realise how much of our money those cunts have spent on things when it could have been spent on medication for cancer patients or AIDs patients, the NHS, for teaching arts, for teaching English language and sciences to our children, for putting money to families so they don’t have to go to food banks. They’re cunts. They’re horrible cunts.”

We were talking to Laurie from Slaves last week and he namechecked you guys in declaring that there’s been much more of an acceptance towards punk lately than there has been in recent years. Do you feel the same way?

“I love that guy. Yeah, of course there’s a lot of younger kids getting involved and that makes it attractive to the industry. It is absolutely more popular now. You’ve got some amazing bands coming through, and some amazing bands that are coming through. I heard a cheeky rumour that Girl Band are going to do something soon. I like a really good band called Egyptian Blue. They played at Yala at one of Felix from The Maccabees‘ nights. They were fucking sick. It’s great, and that’s what happens.

“The other side of music is bloated, boring and awful. You’ve got loads of DJs with weird masks on and it’s all falling apart. It’s a bit Ant & Dec these days, isn’t it? People are getting bored of that shit and they want to hear people talking about what’s going on around them. People with Mickey Mouse heads on playing other people’s songs isn’t that interesting.”


Would you use the word ‘revival’?

“The last time that anything like that happened was with The Strokes, then The Libertines kicked off and what not. Then 2009-10 happened when everything got awful. It’s weird. I was clearing out my attic and reading an old NME from 2008 with all the new bands from nu-rave and all that. It was fucking great. Young Knives had a second album out, Art Brut had a new album out, We Are Scientists were on their second album. It was that second wave, then after that it all got a bit shit.

“I think Girl Band’s album was the last album that got me really excited. I thought that was going to get loads of kiddies into noise-rock and stuff, but it didn’t. What needs to happen now is for a young band to come out and make this fucking amazing album that excites everyone and changes everyone’s mind again. Well, maybe not a young band – maybe IDLES need to do it? We’re touring with Fontaines DC. They’re friends of ours. I’ve got their album on my phone and it’s fucking sick. That could be THE album. It fucking should be. There are other albums coming out that I’ve heard that are unreal too. I hope it happens, just to change the scenery.

“I thought grime was going to get everyone into music in an active way with social commentary and all of that stuff, but it didn’t latch on like I thought it would. I genuinely thought that D Double E’s album was the best album that came out last year. I fucking loved it, but there aren’t as many artists like him and Ghetts who are doing great music. Frisco maybe? Slowthai?”

You can vote for IDLES in the 2019 BRIT Awards here.

IDLES’ upcoming UK and Ireland tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and information.

March 2019
26 – Sheffield, The Leadmill
27 – Cardiff, Tramshed
28 – Norwich, Nick Rayns LCR UEA
29 – Brighton, Brighton Dome Concert Hall

April 2019
1 – Belfast, Empire Music Hall
2 – Dublin, Vicar Street
3 – Manchester, Albert Hall
4 – London, Electric Ballroom
5 – London, Electric Ballroom