Bloc Party—not to be confused with the East coast political party Bloc Quebecois—is a British indie-rock band made up of Kele Okereke, Russell Lissack, Gordon Moakes, and Matt Tong. Following a three-year hiatus, which was originally meant to only last about a year, the band reunited for a fourth album, aptly titled Four. This album signifies an immense growth for the group, both personally and musically, as it is the first time that they were able to really be communicative about what each member wanted from the whole process.
“The time off allowed us to clear up any unfinished music business, thereby stimulating our passion and making us realize that we still have it in us. When we started playing together again it felt like we hadn’t really stopped—for sure we had to blow away the cobwebs, but the inherent chemistry was still very much there.” Thrilled just to be performing as a unit again, the band was especially overjoyed to see that they still have “an active and engaged fan base,” which according to Tong, “has been a real privilege.”
Produced by Alex Newport, Four is undeniably rawer than Bloc Party’s previous albums. While no particular theme threads each track, a consistency and connectedness can be felt within the vocal aesthetic.
“Four really captures us in our full form. It’s the least produced or polished record that we’ve made, reestablishing what it was that actually brought us together in the first place.” In fact, the album is so unprocessed that it is cut with randomly recorded interactions from the lad’s days in the studio.
“Alex left the mics and tapes running when we weren’t paying much attention, and then towards the end of the recording process he e-mailed us these little bits asking whether we wanted to use any of it,” says Tong.
The group went with Newport to ensure something more rock sounding, especially given the bands he has worked with in the past, which include Death Cab For Cutie, City And Colour, and Frank Turner—to name but a few.
“Alex was recommended for his methodological approach to producing a record, which translated into making sure that we were really prepared prior to going into recording. We drilled and worked on our performance, and no one has ever really done that with us before. He was committed, insightful, and incredibly encouraging.”
Currently bouncing around Europe from festival to festival, one thing Tong confesses that he cannot go without is a shower, otherwise he risks becoming pretty cranky. Hopefully hotels and logistics are in order because touring will dictate their lives for the foreseeable future. Despite the pleasure that comes from performing, “the goal is to get through touring relatively intact. We’re living the life and are very grateful to still be able to do so. We enjoy ourselves as much as we can, and probably in a more positive way then we have in the past.”
With unwavering fans and a world tour, Tong enlightens BeatRoute on the best and worst facets of being famous. Even with all the “free stuff that comes with being in the spotlight, having to live up to people’s expectations and what it means to be in the public eye is probably the most annoying aspect…. But we don’t actually view ourselves as famed, and while it is certainly a byproduct of what we do, it is nothing in the grand scheme of things.”
Bloc Party plays the Edmonton Events Centre on Tuesday, September 25, MacEwan Hall (Calgary) on Wednesday, September 26 and the Vogue Theatre (Vancouver) on Saturday, September 29.
By Stephanie Nazywalskyj