Published Jan 01, 2006Bloc Party singer Kele Okereke is already tired of the oft-related story that he handed a demo CD to Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos in October 2003. Okereke would prefer to testify about how his London, UK-based band is injecting dance-hungry art-punk with a dose of Technicolor on their highly touted debut, Silent Alarm.
They've received copious media coverage already, both in their homeland and here in North America, long before their album's release, and Okereke thinks they're worth every drop of ink. "To be honest I'm pretty confident about what we do as a band. I'd be worried about the amount of exposure we were getting if I thought we weren't a good band. As it is, I am confident that we've written a good album that we're proud of," he says.
"We're continuing to write songs that I'm even more proud of. It's quite interesting to be in a position where people are talking about you, because it can make them more suspicious. All that it guarantees is that you'll be exposed; it doesn't guarantee whether that exposure will be good or bad, or what everyone will see in you," he continues. "I've never really cared about what people think, to be honest. As long as we enjoy the music we make, that is the only thing that matters because public opinion is fickle."
They needn't worry for now: Bloc Party's music is already a proven chart success and has become universal in crossing all sorts of boundaries musical and cultural while exploring a variety of musical genres. "We didn't want to be seen as some prosaic indie band. There are lots of other kinds of music that we certainly feed upon when writing our music. It's all about ascending boundaries and making something that we thought was good."
With signal calls that evoke the best work of New Order, Blur, the Cure and Gang of Four, Bloc Party certainly have the flair to fulfil their ambitions. In striving to please themselves they have recorded a textured, mesmerising and accessible album that defies simple categorisation. The guitars are ferociously crisp and inventive, the rhythm section booms with dance floor authority and Okereke's call for response is pronounced and poignant.
"We found that a lot of modern guitar music is quite boring, to be quite honest," he confesses. "Sonically there seemed to be no ambition, and while we were listening to a lot of modern guitar bands, I think it just became a case of making sure that our album was vast-sounding without being cheesy."
Searching for "someone with a knowledge of dance music as well as rock music" to capture their vision, they enlisted Paul Epworth (the Futureheads, Maximo Park, the Streets), one of the world's most sought-after producers/remixers. "I think that we intentionally didn't want to make anything too slick because that is what this band is about; there is dirt and there is grit."
With Epworth's help, the band found themselves a cut above their peers. "I think that for us, we never wanted to sound like some crap garage rock band. We were really obsessed with sound and the way we play as musicians; we're really obsessed with the sonic capabilities of our instruments," Okereke explains. "We wanted to make an album that reflected that. Again, it raises my point that the modern guitar music I hear just really sounds like a flat experience. We want to stand out."