For a while there it started to seem like Bloc Party had stopped being a band and become some sort of complicated delivery system for Kele Okereke’s lyrics, a machine that provided the soundtrack for his words and ideas. A very talented machine for sure, but it wasn’t really what the legions of fans of their debut album Silent Alarm had signed up for. However, although it was experimental and drifted away from dance rock into surprisingly heavy territory a couple of times, the 2012 album Four definitely sounded like the work of the same band that made Silent Alarm working together. The recent Nextwave Sessions EP helped confirm that, with songs like ‘Ratchet’ clearly the product of a bunch of guys having fun playing together again.
It seemed like the side projects most of the group enjoyed during Bloc Party’s hiatus gave them a renewed purpose. Bass player Gordon Moakes formed post-hardcore outfit Young Legionnaire, guitarist Russel Lissack signed up for a tour as part of Ash’s live band and put out an album with Pin Me Down, and Okereke had his solo album The Boxer and then its follow-up EP The Hunter. He also became a DJ, which is what brings him back to Australia this time – he’ll be doing a DJ set at the Beach Road Hotel’s 21st birthday party. Okereke’s described these sideline activities as being like affairs, but he means it in a good way; they make him appreciate what he’s got waiting for him back home.
You played the Future Music Festival in Australia earlier this year – at the Brisbane show there was pouring rain and mud. What was the festival like from your point of view?
Hmm, I had a nice time. Being from England we are pretty much used to the rain so it didn’t put us off and I was glad to see everyone there still having a blast.
Did you get to see PSY backstage at Future?
No, but I remember our drummer got mistaken for PSY at a nightclub in Adelaide and he got really offended.
A few years ago you got to write an ‘Indie Sex Doctor’ column for The Guardian. How did it feel to be a sex guru, and is it something you’d do again?
I like telling people what to do in sticky situations, I’m a real busy body. So sure, if I was asked I’d totally love to do it again.
When you’re DJing do you have the entire setlist locked down in advance or do you change it as you go along, depending on how people react?
You have a basic outline but that always goes out the window when you start to play. A good performance is a two-way thing, you feed off the energy you are given and then you funnel it back into the crowd.
Do you take requests?
Do you get a kick out of confounding people’s expectations?
I get a kick out of keeping myself interested. That’s the only thing I really care about.
Do you read the comments?
Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one.
What’s some of the more memorable music you’ve heard this year?
I’ve really enjoyed the Jon Hopkins record, Immunity.
When you’re between shows in Australia, what do you do to keep occupied?
I read, I walk around, I meditate, I eat. I like the food in Australia, it’s very bountiful.
Are Australian audiences different from audiences elsewhere in specific ways?
I think music is appreciated much more in Australia. You guys love celebrating. When Bloc Party play live I love to hear Australian audiences singing back the lyrics of my songs, you can really hear your accents.
Is The Nextwave Sessions named after the Marvel comic? (What with ‘X-Cutioner’s Song’ on there as well I figured there might be a chance.)
No, The Nextwave Sessions was just an image I had whilst we were recording. The only track with any Marvel affiliation is the ‘X-Cutioner’s Song’. Which was a crossover storyline that ran in early ’90s.
Kyle Marquis said, “unless you’re over 60, you weren’t promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go.” How do you feel about living in the future?
It doesn’t feel like the future to me, it feels like the present.
What’s next for you?
All work and no play makes Kele a very dull boy…
BY JODY MACGREGOR
Kele plays a live DJ set at The Beach Road Hotel‘s 21st Birthday Mega-Bration with DZ Deathrays, Mystery Headlining DJ and Sosueme DJs on Wednesday September 11. Also playing: Hermitude, Alison Wonderland, Bleeding Knees Club, Kid Mac and more at the Thredbo Efterski Festival on September 12-14.