Bloc Party Speaks: Why Bringing Their Guitars to HARD Summer is a Gutsy Move
Matt Tong, Russell Lissack, Kele Okereke and Gordon Moakes
British indie rock band Bloc Party has specialized in showing American practitioners of dancey post punk how it's done since the release of their 2005 debut Silent Alarm. Kele Okereke's distinct deep voice was the soothing soundtrack to many teenagers and twenty somethings just discovering themselves and their music tastes at the time. After a hiatus and overdue break in 2009, the London quartet came back on the scene last year more ready than ever to produce their highly anticipated fourth album, aptly titled Four, to be released August 20th.
It comes as no surprise that the band who bridged the gap between guitars and electronic sounds back in '06 would be headlining tonight at the fourth annual HARD Summer Music Festival, a mostly electronic dance music festival at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Since most of the acts are mostly DJ sets it caught our attention and interest in the new album and their evolving style. Gordon Moakes, or Gordy, the bands bass guitarist, synths player, backing vocalist and even glockenspiel player (it's kind of like a xylophone but out of metal) was nice enough to answer a few questions for our inquiring minds.
"As a guitar band we'd talked a lot about this kind of [electronic] music influencing us and [Flux] was about crossing over into experimenting with the production more directly," explains Gordon. "Flux" was the first electronic song produced by Jacknife Lee on their second album A Weekend in the City. Back in '07, it was very different from their previous singles released, but channeled electronic sounds and a brass section inspired by the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode and Bjork. "[We did this] mainly to try and incorporate more of our influences than we'd been able to," says Moakes.
Now five years later, electronic dance music is dominating airwaves, TV commercials and blockbuster movie previews. Even those electronic artists who usually incorporate live elements into their performance like Chromeo and Bloody Beetroots are doing DJ sets this weekend. "I do think it's very easy to become an electronic artist right now, when at one point it was a pretty left-field, rebellious thing to do," shared Gordy. "Now if anything it's come full-circle and we feel like we're the rebellious ones turning up at an electronic festival with a bunch of guitars."
Though their third album, Intimacy, was largely influenced by electronic music, Bloc Party has not lost touch with guitar music in a traditional band form. "In a way [Four] is more of a guitar record than any record we've made," says Moakes. "We decided to play to our strengths both as a band and individually." When asked if he would be sticking to his bass playing strengths at the festival Gordon said, "Obviously we can lean on some of our electronic numbers - "Flux" and "One More Chance" - but I think we'll be unashamed about throwing some of our big rock songs in too, and the hope is that for the crowd out there it'll be a nice change of pace from the constant thump-thump of dance music."
Having Bloc Party perform will give the festival a little more Coachella-esque feel with it's variety in music and the type of crowds it will draw. Regardless, we are looking forward to this headlining set right before Boys Noize on the Main Hard Stage because not only do we want to channel our inner youth as they play "Banquet" (originally released on Dim Mak Records in 2004), but we hope they throw in a few of their new songs from Four!
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