Test Icicles For Screening Purposes Only

Test Icicles For Screening Purposes Only
The best music evokes a reaction from its listener — something the three members of London’s Test Icicles are well too aware of. Unlike any other band in the current Brit pack, this trio have no firm agenda, other than to throw a number of extreme musical genres at you with the utmost vulgarity: ’80s speed metal, old school hip-hop, aggravating hardcore and danceable post-punk, all under a D.I.Y. crusade that uses backing tracks instead of a drummer and bassist. Basically, you’ll either fall in love with their debut album For Screening Purposes Only or simply feel the urge to organise a Comiskey Park-like public bonfire to lambaste it. A little artistically unfocused and even sloppy in some parts, their seething ferocity and unbridled enthusiasm though make it hard not to fall for their ability to perfect a goddamn racket. With a three-way guitar/vocal attack by Sam Merrann, Devonte Hynez and Rory Aggwelt, tracks like "Circle, Square, Triangle,” an irresistible death disco, the angular punk riot "Snowball,” and the brutally violent "Your Biggest Mistake” find their motif falling somewhere between Slayer strangling Bloc Party, or the Blood Brothers manhandled by the Geto Boys. It’s extreme, for sure, but not without its share of humour, hooks and humility.

The reactions to your band seem to be split between love and hate. Merrann: Some people get quite offended and come onstage swearing and trying to start fights, and some will be laughing and having a good time. They either like it or really fucking hate us… or just don’t know what’s going on.

There’s quite a mash-up of influences on the album… The majority of the songs were solely written and recorded individually; only two tracks were three-way collaborations. We didn’t have time to think about it because we got signed off two songs in three months and had to write another 20 in the next three months, so we didn’t have a blueprint to work around for the sound. We all came together really quickly; we weren’t even thinking about it.

What’s with using backing tracks instead of a drummer and bassist? It’s too much trouble. We already couldn’t work with each other, so it would be too hard to get two more people and teach them everything. For the album we all did the bass for each of our respective songs; I played drums on a third of the album and our producer James [Ford] played the rest. Live, we play them with an iPod through the PA. Half of them have click count-in metronomes and we play along like there is a real drummer and bassist, kind of like Big Black. (Domino)