Music interview: Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts.
Wild Beasts.
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Wild Beasts couldn’t be from anywhere else but Britain.

You only have to listen to a few notes of their music to realise as much. The places they namecheck in their lyrics and the eclectic nature of their songs give them away.

Few bands would mention the towns of Rodean, Shipley, Hounslow and Whitby in a whole career, let alone in one song, as Wild Beasts did in their breakthrough single All The King’s Men.

The accent with which singers Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming deliver those lyrics are defiantly English, too. In a musical landscape increasingly populated by mid-Atlantic twangs, no matter the origin of the singer, the Kendal band stand out now even more than they did when they released their debut album Limbo, Panto, back in 2008.

It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but what started out for the four-piece (who are all in their late 20s) as merely the way they did things has, as their career’s progressed, become something of a talking point.

Wanderlust, the first single from their new album Present Tense, even deals with the subject.

Of course, in light of Alex Turner’s apparent switch from broad Sheffield accent to Elvis-esque drawl, Thorpe’s comments were perceived as a slight against the Arctic Monkeys frontman, but Wild Beasts have since clarified that they didn’t have Turner in mind. The fact that the two bands share a record label, Domino, and that Arctic Monkeys’ defiantly regional accents have been as lauded as highly as Wild Beasts’, suggests they’re telling the truth. Picking up the subject again today, Fleming, the band’s second singer, bass player and most intense member, says Wild Beasts sticking firm with their nationality works for and against them, depending on where they are.

“In some quarters, what we do is lost in translation.Ultimately, we can’t change, so what we have to do is to talk about our sphere of knowledge and environment.”

“You just have to hope that people go with you on it. It’s not about success at any cost, and it’s not something we can worry about. I don’t agree with obscuring something for the sake of it - we have to put our music in front of as many people as possible and give it its best chance. But we can only make it so easy...” If their band is to succeed, Present Tense is certainly their best chance yet.

The fact they’ve made four albums - the second of which was nominated for the Mercury Prize and the most-recent charted at No 10 - means they’re not doing too badly as it is, but there really is something special about this latest record.

Paul Draper. Picture: Tom Sheehan

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