Wild Beasts really nailed their colours to the mast with 2009's Two Dancers, a superlative release confirming the band as one of the more inspiring instances of British boys picking up guitars in recent memory. Their sparky debut - Limbo, Panto - had been the very essence of adolescent awkwardness, with a full set of adult features but lacking the werewithal to frame them elegantly, but in flying the nest with such unexpected grace its follow-up represented a daring coup. Now with a third, more electronically-inclined third album in the can and ready to do business sometime in the spring, we caught up with frontmen Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming to find out more...
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Hello there, and well done on finishing the new record.
Hayden:"Thanks, we're all really excited. The important thing about how we approach making records is we do it before we have time to overthink it so it's always very cathartic, always an expelling of things. We always end up with a record before we know what the record is, so we can't second guess ourselves - if we did that we'd end up getting ourselves in a right tangle. All the decisions we make have to be instinctive and guttural, it's like the biggest decisions can seem like the smallest decisions when you just go ahead and make them.
Thematically you've been inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the album - what other areas have the lyrics been exploring this time around?
Tom: "It's the same areas we were at last time, this sense of things being seen through someone else's eyes and it not necessarily being the truth, it's always magnified. There's a Brazilian writer called Clarice Lispector, who I think is without question the best writer I've ever discovered. She was writing in the seventies and eighties, her thing is definitely to do with how the self is a prison to the world and how it's not necessarily true what you're reading. But you have to be positive, and I think the record is softer, a happier record than maybe we were expecting. It sounds like I'm talking about the muse I have no control over, but our whole modus operandi is not about sitting around waiting for the muse to attend, we like to move quickly."
Hayden: "It's been very cathartic. We've been on the road for a year as all bands do, we're not exceptional in that sense. The difference is that when we were really exhausted we just went straight in to rehearse and used that as our comfort and consoling device, and that's why the music became very integral to us really, because we relied on it. It's just a very human record, it's more relaxed - much more so than we thought it would end up being."
Do you have a title yet?
Hayden: "We've got some ideas. It's like looking through a kaleidoscope and trying to pick out a certain colour. But it's been very exhausting it's been very natural and essential really, when you make a record it's like building a world for yourself that you're going to have to live in, just as the one behind you starts to collapse - we're gonna have to play this record for two years now. There's that split second where you have to jump between the two."
And you spent time in Dalston writing for the record, is that right?
Hayden: "All the writing was done in Dalston, we were there for six weeks. For us it was amazing, The Horrors were next door, we'd walk down the street and bump into friends of ours like Ben from Fuck Buttons... Fuck Buttons are a huge influence, we adore their music and to just bump into them on the way to rehearsals is great. Sometimes in Leeds it feels like you're in a creative ghetto, we were a bit odd for being a professional band. I was made to feel weird for practising in a basement five days a week rather than going out to Bondi Beach or Walkabout or wherever. And it's really liberating in London to be with people who actually were encouraging and made you feel like this was a normal thing, you know."
Musically you've mentioned it will be more of an electronically-based affair, was that an eye-opening experience for you recording-wise?
Tom: "Well with the last record I think we tried to incorporate some elements of how electronic music was constructed in terms of how you can play it as a band, whereas this time we're going a little deeper into that. We've just fallen in love with pad sounds, smoother sounds, texture and atmosphere - things that are impossible to do as a straight guitar band, so it was something we wanted to approach. The record is quite personalised, all the vocals are going to be singing quite close, it's mixed quite intimately. So it'll be that up against the kind of depersonalising effect of the electronics. There are a lot more overdubs as well; a lot of the songs were built as band arrangements and then taken apart and built up again as studio arrangements. So there is gonna be a bit of reloading and re-establishing, a bit of learning to do."
And do you have a final track-listing sorted?
Tom: "We've got quite a short album, that's how we like it but there was definitely a lot of material. I think the mixing and remixing potential for this are endless, there are a lot of sounds on the record which are buried which could be really prominent, it's very carefully arranged. It's more dense in a way. There were a few decorations and everything but really the last record was really just the sound of us in a room whereas that's not necessarily the case this time around. But it does sound like we've got about ten albums each."
There's always been a sense of purpose about you as a band, has that only increased now you've established an audience with Two Dancers?
Hayden: "Absolutely, the sense of empowerment is massive, the sense of having people listen and the feeling of responsibility, it feels like something to rise to rather than be overwhelmed by. It makes our jobs easier, because we do speak in code - we want people to come to us and to understand us on our terms rather than this ridiculous sense of having to dumb things down. There's this preconception that people need things to be simplified for them - they don't. The new one could go down like the first one, with a damp whimper of confusion, but that's something which is out of our control, it's not something we can be too concerned about. But I hope this record does well, because I need to do this job and I'd be fucking useless at anything else by now. You just have to have faith, as George Michael would say."