Wild Beasts

Helen Newbery 15/10/2008

Hailing originally from Kendall, but currently residing across the Pennines in Leeds, Wild Beasts are currently supporting Foals on their (mostly) sold-out UK tour. Before they hit the road, Helen Newbery caught up with bassist (and occasional vocalist) Tom to find out, amongst other things, what real wild beasts he could take on.

How did Leeds festival go?

Phh, decadent ta. We really enjoyed it - an appreciative audience, just the right amount of mud, Metallica. Again, really nice.

I enjoyed your show supporting Maximo Park in Edinburgh in August; did you?

Thanks, I thought it had gone really well. Whenever we do support shows it is evident in people's faces that they don't know quite how to take us. And from our experiences, no one comes to see the support act, and the chances are that the people who come to see an act mightn't like you, or at least see you as a complete irrelevance. People seemed to react well, apart from one charming soul at the front who greeted each song with "FUCK OFF!". He was very near to us - would he do that at a bus stop, or would he fear repercussions? I think he went to get a drink eventually.

The album's had some good notices; are you pleased with the way it's been received?

People have said very nice things about us, and generally been receptive and pretty warm. The biggest thing is that all of us are surprised what people take from it. It's everyone's right to do so and a source of constant interest for us.

Do you get annoyed when reviews etc focus on Hayden's voice?

Well, I suppose he has a striking voice. A reviewer probably gets about half an inch to tell people what they think in a way they will understand, and Hayden's voice is a very prominent part of our sound, and a voice is the most direct way of getting things across. In fairness, everything else has been given its due more than any of the 4 of us could have expected. I think it takes a while for things to sound natural, however something sounds.

As an outsider, the Leeds music scene always seems quite vibrant to me; is it an advantage to be based there?

Leeds has been great to us. We get asked this a lot, and we haven't been here very long in geological time - about 4 years. There is a lot of variety here, and a lot of quality - not that it was apparent here when we first arrived. We had to meet a few people before we got to know about the stuff that goes on here, and I still don't have time to get to see all I want. And I don't think sometimes that the city gets its due, being in the historic shadow of Manchester, having the glass ceiling of Northerness. There are always lots of young people coming through owing to the universities and colleges, there are small, connected areas with cheap(ish) housing and a supportive array of promoters, venues, labels, studios etc. I'm not sure we can be ambassadors of the artistic community of Leeds, not least because Wild Beasts is a very insular little unit, but we can vouch for it being a good place to be.

How did you all meet?

Hayden and Chris went to primary school together, we all went to Secondary school together. Me and Benny, as it turns out, are half-cousins. That is Kendal for you, everyone knows your business before you do.

Are you looking forward to going to France?

Always! Bonsoir, nous sommes les fauves! Ca va? Vive le musique decadent! etc

Ditto supporting Foals in October? (I'm personally gutted you're not doing Glasgow..)

Of course, they're lovely people and have put their necks on the block by asking us along. An amazing unit too, when you see them. Holy Fuck are doing it in our place I think, I'm sure you'll manage with them.

What's next for the band? (feel free to plug single etc..)

I shall. Next single is entitled "Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants" and is released on the 13th of October, a Monday. We are also doing the shows you mentioned above, as well as several others around yr skull. We also did London Airwaves in September, and a Marc Riley session for Radio 6 on 22nd Sept, and we are writing and recording constantly.

Who would win in a fight between you and a real Wild Beast?

I personally could rip the arms off a polar bear, but run like a frightened child from the wasp.

"Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants" and was released this Monday the 13th of October through Domino. Video here: