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Q&A with Kele of Bloc Party

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Kele of Bloc Party is thrilled to be playing Las Vegas — but when he’s not on stage, he’ll probably be behaving himself in his hotel room.
Chris Bitonti

The Details

Bloc Party with Santigold
August 11, 8 p.m., $30.
Boulevard Pool at Cosmo, 698-7000.

Let’s start by talking about the new record. I’m sure when the record comes out review headlines will read: “Bloc Party returns to rock roots,” or something to that effect. Is that how you feel about the album?

Yeah, I mean I think it is a more rock record than our last record. Personally, I don’t know if it’s a return to anything, to me, it all feels like new ground.

So you didn’t set out to make a more rock record, it just kind of happened naturally?

I think that it’s a more guitar-orientated record, but I think the way that we are playing our guitars on the track is something that we’ve never really done before. So I don’t know, the original game plan that we had was to capture the direct sound that was coming out of the studio.

When you go in to record, do you set out to write danceable rock songs?

Danceable rock songs … I don’t know if that’s a goal. I think that every song is different. You go in trying express whatever is in your head at the moment.

Why did you choose Alex Newport to produce the record instead of Jackknife Lee (who had produced the last two)?

Well, it wasn’t a case of either/or. We wanted to work with someone new, more of an engineer. Someone that was gonna capture the sound and actually show everyone that it was very good.

Your website had a blog post from you about how much you dislike the recording process and in particular how “definite” it is. Does that come out in the finished product?

From the get go we knew we wanted to capture more of a live sound, more of a kind of rough and ready sound. That was always from the outset. And I think the producer was super-conscious about retaining the aesthetics. Unbeknownst to us, he was recording all of the sound in between the takes and all of the random stuff that we were saying, which added to the whole feeling of it put together.

You did keep the album fairly under wraps, you told press that Bloc Party was auditioning new singers and that you had no plans to record any time soon, all while in the midst of this album. Why?

(Laughs) At the time of us working on it, we weren’t even sure what was gonna happen. We hadn’t made music together for three years, so we didn’t want to go in with a whole agenda. We didn’t want that kind of pressure. So when that came out it was just a joke, a way to throw people off the scent. And it blew up, I feel like it became a huge story—which, in itself, is quite funny. I think it’s quite funny.

So you guys are playing Lollapalooza Saturday, right?

Yeah, we are.

Are you guys in Chicago already?

No, right now we’re in Los Angeles. We’ll fly out to Chicago tomorrow morning. Its gonna be a super-intense day.

So when you play a festival like Lollapalooza versus a headlining show where everyone in the crowd is there to see you, do you tailor your set any differently? To catch foot traffic or anything like that?

No, not really. I think that every performance should feel spontaneous. It should feel like you’re tapping into what’s there in the room or what’s there in the field, you know, for that evening. So you just try to be open and perceptive really, to whatever you’re getting from the crowd and that’s the only thing you can be. You don’t cater your set. You know you might change a song you play, but in terms of your performance, it should be pretty comfortable.

You announced that you are going to be touring in shorter spurts, three weeks or less. Why is that?

I think it’s just about sanity, really. Part of the problem we had in the past was that we did a lot of work, we kind of worked non-stop. We’d go from touring for a year, touring the world, to come back to make a record, to touring the world again. We did that, like, three times without any break, we worked really hard. But at the end of that process, maybe the rear end of it, I think we were in a bit of a dark place at the end of that period. And I think, in order to not relive that, we are trying to be a bit more sensible about making sure we have lives outside of the band.

Have you played Vegas a lot?

We played it twice, I think.

Is there anything you look forward to or have to do when you’re in town?

Well, I used to have a really big problem with gambling. And I had I to have a form of rehab for people with gambling problems. So whenever we come to Vegas it’s always a really big test of my strength and my recovery, but I’ve been good—I mean, I’ve been good the last couple times. And it’s always a real challenge for me, but its important to be challenged, that’s how you know you’re doing good. So I’m probably just going to be staying in my hotel room.

Well, I’m looking forward to the show. Are you going to be playing the new record?

Yeah we’re playing the some of the new record. Definitely. I’m looking forward to it.

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