Bloc Party are the next Most Important Band In Rock. FACT. They’re the culture-vaulting, stereotype-shattering pioneers of sarfeast Lahndan uber art-funk Messerschmitt pop and they have come to upturn every tired preconception of white-boy indie guitar muzzzzzic and kill All Tomorrow’s Parties Instantly.
As vital as The Clash in ’77, as sinister as The Specials in ’82, they’re the visceral and scabrous leaders of the second wave of grot’n’roll, charging the barricades kicked in by The Libertines. Their songs are like Hot Hot Seat singing through slit throats and their very existence is the marrow of revolution.
They even look like they were selected at random from a lottery pool of indie bands – girl-haired guitarist Russel Lissak should be in a Suede covers act, drummer Matt Tong and bassist Gordon Moakes are the pan-racial twins from some forgotten Sebadoh line-up and singer Kele Okereke should, by rights, be making billions in a reformed Fugees. If Dylan’s making the chips and Borrell’s drinking the champagne, Bloc Party are gobbing in the vol-au-vents and running off to kick-start a Grave New World of Britpunk benevolence.
Right, now that’s all agreed, pull up as swish designer chair in the Copenhagen Sex & The City swank-pad they’ve been put up in while recording their debut album, melow out on PG Tips and light jazz and grawp incredulously as Bloc Party try to rubbish All Of The Above and tell us their wildest ambition is to be as culturally revolutionary as Mogwai.
“We find it odd to be even remotely considered as movers and shakers in this London scene,” says Matt, geography-treacherously.
“Being truly important isn’t gonna happen with our first album,” Kele agrees, his stammer worsening under the pressure of every fresh plaudit. “At what point did The Jam put their hands up and say, ‘We’re at the start of something’?”
Well, if you don’t then Johnny ‘Brilliant‘ Borrell’s going to get all the credit.
Kele: “Let him, let him!”
Matt: “Arrogance is a trait we deplore. Oasis rattling on like that for ten years is enough to make me pull my ears off.”
Kele: “It’s enough to make me walk away from a band, when I hear that sort of talk. I Think ‘sensibly’ is the only way you can exist.”
Society Crumbles As Wild New Craze Of ‘Sensible‘ Sweeps Nation’s Youth! Bloc Party Banned From All UK Venues Amid Fear Of Uncontrollable ‘Modesty‘ Outburst! Singer Found Dead From Overdose Of Early Nights And Balanced Diet! Hmmm, seems Bloc Party are a bunch of ordinary boys with no idea how extraordinary they really are.
Kele, for example, is yer typical East End indie shy-boy: seduced away from the evil beckonings of Kriss Kross and The Cranberries at the age of 15 by his sister’s copy of ‘Parklife’. Good at school but only really himself when twanging mournfully at his guitar or wallowing in Joy Division and Idlewild.
Formed band with girl-haired weirdie Russel from the school down the road after ‘bonding‘ at Reading ’99.
Oh yes, in his head Kele’s the bog-standard Indie Urchin, no different from the singer in, say, The Cribs. But in reality, as possibly the first ever black-fella-singing-in-ad-indie-band, he’s a shining (if reluctant) icon of cultural nonconformity to stand alongside Rosa Luxembourg, Martin Luther King and her from Skunk Anensie. Er, possibly.
“I’d like to think that people in England area more open-minded,” he says, “but then I’m not stupid, I knew people would see us and notice us and we had to be as good as possible because it’d be very easy to shoot us down as some kind of token band.”