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{THE KLAXONS} Melissa Doran

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here were about ten teenage girls and one (token) boy outside Dublin’s Ambassador Theatre from about four o’clock, all dressed up creatively, patiently waiting for some Klaxons to come by so that they could tell them excitedly how much they love them. My interview with the band takes place a couple of buildings down from all this, in the bar of the Gresham Hotel. I meet James Righton, keyboardist and one of the singers from the band, and he is not too tall and is totally gorgeous, wearing extra skinny Cheap Mondays, a little black leather jacket and a tight red polo shirt. I ask him how he is. “I’m totally great, I’m grand…Grand and great are the same thing, right?” I explain how grand is more lowkey than great, more like “fine.” “Ok, then I’m very grand, how’s that then?” He exudes positive energy and politeness and flashes me a perfect smile complete with blazing blue eyes. I give him last months Foggy Notions, the one with Joanna Newsom on the cover, just as a little icebreaker. Joanna Newsom and TV on the Radio made his top two albums of last year, so he’s happy. “I discovered a lot of bands last year which I didn’t know about, from the last two or three years, especially this label called Social Registry (home of Gang Gang Dance and Blood on the Wall) in New York. We managed to go over to New York a little bit. We managed to discover scenes, actual real scenes, unlike the New Rave scene which doesn’t exist.” This whole New Rave thing is something they made up, or NME made up, for fun, and is mainly to do with the audience at their gigs bringing glow-sticks along with them - but if you must have a catchy summation, their music is more Indie Rave, or more simply Indie Dance. Maybe the “rave” tag has stuck because of the drugs thing? Klaxons were interviewed in NME and talked about all the drugs they love to do, but later stated how appalled they were at those pesky journalists quoting the things they say “out of context”. Oh, and Klaxons do a cover of this obscure rave song called “The Bouncer” by Kicks Like A Mule which you can listen to on their myspace (there’s a reason it’s obscure). Anyway it was a nice name for a tour and it’s this NME tour that brings the Klaxons to town today, along with fellow hipsters CSS and New Young Pony Club. Their “Atlantis to Interzone” video sees them as hyper kids from either the future, or the eighties maybe, with luminous bits in their clothes and a green laser light playing over the screen. “Gravity’s Rainbow” sees them made up with green eyeshadow against a luminous pink background, and then with their tops off, holding babies. In “Golden Skans” they’re dressed in just ribbons, crashing through black space and water, fighting invisible demons. A bit of a theme emerging here? Their website is all sci-fi funny. They are all energy. . . . 60 . . .

If you listen to them before going on a night out it’s equivalent to two espressos. “We all kinda descended to New Cross in South East London from other parts of England…Me and Simon [Taylor-Davis, guitar] moved there to play with a different band, but then Klaxons came along.” The third member is singer and bass player Jamie Reynolds, the old geezer of the band at twentysix years old: the other two clock in at twentythree. “It’s so funny because when it started I didn’t think it was worth pursuing, I didn’t think it was my concern, but before we knew it there was something there, from the first gig that was shambolic, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but it suddenly became like, not a priority, but suddenly became something that I cared about very much, something that was exciting, and something that was so new. And between the three of us it was like an instant chemistry, suddenly it worked. I’ve played in a lot of bands before, and you come across a formula and it works and you’re so fortunate if that ever happens. You could be in bands all your life and you can never have it and we’re so lucky to have it.” Kinda like falling in love? “Yeah it is love, but without all the em, all the other bits… “Jamie was doing little bits with other bands; I’d lived in Madrid for a bit, but I’ve always played music with bands, but mainly on my own, making acoustic kinda more Elliot Smithy melodic things. Simon always made stuff on his own at his house. I taught him guitar and he took it upon himself to de-learn everything that I’d taught him and just make lots of noise… We booked a live gig and then we had to learn the songs, so then we had a week … “With this band we always work well under pressure, not pressure, but with an urgency and an aim. You need it. Like, we started fourteen months ago, and there was the aim that, well, we’ve booked this gig, we have to learn some songs, a week to make them, learn them, write them, and within a week we had about two or three which were “Atlantis…” [“Atlantis to Interzone” one of their biggest hit singles] and “Four Horsemen” [“Four Horsemen of 2012” - a messy reverb filled shouty final track on the album, just over two minutes long] and another couple that were just awful. “Atlantis…” for a start just didn’t have any words, just us kinda mumbling along to a tune. [Video footage of this song at their first gig can be seen on YouTube] And after the first song everything broke and we ended up just dancing and singing to a drum beat.” They were lucky that they had a stash of lively friends to come party with them for this gig. . . . 61 . . .


“They loved it: it was the most punk thing that they’d ever seen.” Jamie from the band knew a few local promoters, which he brought along also, thus kick-starting the hype machine into action, one week after the Klaxons formation. Simon, the guitarist, aka Captain Strobe, now comes into view, striding towards us, after finishing his own interview somewhere else. He’s got really big hair, and it’s in a complicated waxed up do. He rearranges his fringe between two fingers before shaking my hand and saying hi. He has got huge black eyes. James carries on what he was saying. “So yeah it was pretty insane, but it was like the most exciting, weird, fifteen minutes of our live career…” “Apparently we sounded shit last night on TV,” interrupts Captain Strobe, now seated at the edge of the coffee table. This grumpily delivered statement was directed at James, and marks the end of the relaxed part of the interview. “Yeah some parts were really slow, just really slow,” replies James, and then, to me he adds, “Friday Night Project.” “But it wasn’t a project, and it wasn’t Friday!” continues Simon indignantly,“It was Thursday we filmed it on…” He remembers me and adds, “Sorry, I’m interrupting.” I invite him to join the interview so long as he moves in a bit so that the dictaphone can catch what he says. I ask him how it’s going. “Great,” he answers sarcastically. “I just spoke to two people and neither of them have heard a single song by us.” It’s obviously been one tough week for him. “Really?” asks James, surprised, and then looks at me to ask, “You have heard a song right?” I nod. I have, of course I have. Simon wants to get it all off his chest. “It’s sort of exciting when you’re speaking to people when they’ve never heard your album. I found it especially exciting when she said ‘So, you’ve been on four different record labels?’ ‘No we haven’t.’ ‘How does it feel to headline a tour when your albums not out? Your album isn’t out ‘til Monday.’ ‘Our album came out last week’. I love that! I may as well have been interviewing her. ‘How’s your brother?’ ‘Well I haven’t got a brother.’ ‘How’s your cat?’ ‘I haven’t got a cat.’” I feel like now I’m going to have to prove myself somehow and as a result, all the questions I can think of sound stupid. I say this to them, half jokingly. “No, no, I’m joking, I’m joking,” Simon assures me. “It’s just quite bizarre to talk about music when they haven’t heard it, it’s like talking about a book when you haven’t read it.” “You’ve at least heard our music though?” asks James again, “those questions you asked earlier, you understand, you’ve done a bit of research?”

Somewhere in the middle of that story I realise that the table leg hitting off my foot wasn’t the table leg, it was James. When I look and realise and apologise he smiles up at me as Simon talks on. I am so embarrassed. I crawl as far back into the chair as is possible and curl my feet under the chair as far as they go, making my thighs all fat. I try not to die. They start mumbling something amongst themselves something that I can’t make out. “That’s so funny!” laughs Simon, bending into the table. What’s that? I ask, assuming that we’re still doing the interview. “Nothing,” says James, glaring at Simon, “nothing”. He changes the subject. “This is a really good magazine though, have a look,” he hands it to Simon who takes it saying, “James really fancies Joanna Newsom.” “I don’t really fancy her, but she is really pretty.” Then there’s a big chat about Joanna Newsom and how great she is. Question time again and it’s about the Tate Tracks, a project whereby the Klaxons, amongst others such as the Chemical Brothers and Graham Coxon, made music to accompany a piece from the Tate Modern in London. You can listen to the music beside the artwork in the gallery, but later it will be made available online. “We could pick whatever we want, and Simon chose it,” begins James. “Simon is probably best to pick up on this point.” Simon pauses, still flicking through the magazine, and goes to the file in his brain marked “prepared answers to set questions’” and wearily starts explaining. “I chose a piece of sculpture by Donald Judd, which I did quite lazily because we couldn’t really be bothered to go. I’d seen it, I’d been to the Tate quite a few times but rather than walking around it together, which would have been near impossible, I chose a piece which I knew was there, and rather than try to extract some kind of aesthetic meaning from it…it was a rhythmical thing. It was a Donald Judd sculpture, which is a concrete sculpture made of slats that are placed on the wall, and we took the number of slats as a starting point to a kind of rhythmical movement, and we then placed a kind of rhythm around the sculpture…it was rhythmical, rather than trying to extrapolate some kind of like subjective meaning from the piece.” Right… So it’s not really a song then, I suggest. “It’s a piece of music, it’s not a song. I wouldn’t call it a song.” Like duh. “It’s like…‘sound.’” “Not a pop song,” adds James from behind the camcorder that he’s been using to film myself and Simon for the last few minutes, adding to my general discomfort. “It doesn’t have vocals,” continues Simon. “So it’s like sound art?” I offer. “What’s sound art, what does that mean?” asks Simon derisively, as if I made it up. He’s the one who made a . . . 62 . . .

sound interpretation of a piece of sculpture, but somehow now I’m the pretentious one! I begin to offer a half assed ladybird book explanation of sound art as being when artists use sound as their medium, not aiming for something musical, or a nice tune but…“It’s more like a soundscape” says the camcorder decisively. “That’s a whole different thing,” starts Simon, “whether or not sound art is music or not… some people release sound art on record labels…” I guess that he’s a fan of sound art. “But that’s not really for normal people is it?” I say, blank faced, to tease him, “that’s for nerds.” “Songs for abnormal people ha!” says James, his camcorder down for a minute. “I listen to nerd music,” says Simon quietly. I feel a bit bad now. “Hmm, maybe it’s a boy thing,” I say, lamely. “I don’t think it will be released as a single, it’s just another thing that we enjoy doing” - James is such a trooper, a PR’s dream, “it was really enjoyable writing it, it’s like…” “Who writes the reviews for this, best albums of the year?” interrupts Simon, Foggy Notions in his hands again. “Do they smoke weed? I think they do: The Album Leaf ’s in there, a real like, dope band; Ratatat; Grizzly Bear is one of the most power-dope bands you can be; North Sea Radio Orchestra - power dope band…” “Dope Bands!” exclaims James, delighted at this new genre, camcorder back in action. “…Espers; M-Ward; it’s just dope bands! They’re all incredible bands it’s just - proper dope!” I’m a bit taken aback, all his questions are rhetorical: I don’t know what to say. “No, I actually really like it, the thing I like about it is it’s quite slow, there’s not a lot of noisy music in it: Scott Walker, The Drift, incredible record; Bonnie Prince Billy; it’s all quite slow, it’s really nice that. I really like that, massive, massive compilation, well done, whoever wrote that…I agree,” he declares deadpan. Liars’ Drum’s Not Dead is his favourite album of 2006, “which doesn’t seem to be in here which means he must have been so stoned he left them out!” He keeps on talking about the magazine, about the bands in it and about the writing, the paper, its smell; he tries telling me that Karen O is his girlfriend. James is still recording, and then someone from their label comes to move them on. “Reckon you’ve got enough there?” asks James. “Sorry I’ve ruined your interview,” says Simon. “No, it was lovely,” I reply. .... ----––––\\\\\\\|///////––––---- ....

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Klaxons interview  

Klaxons interview from Foggy Notions March 2007