Tuesday, 5 October 2010

"The thing I like about being in a band is that you get to indulge your silliest whims"

Islet are a four piece from Cardiff who have so far released two mini-albums, ‘Celebrate This Place’ and ‘Wiggy’. They sound like a post-rock version of Stomp conducted by Mark E. Smith, with a spirit of experimentalism and daring about them that is genuinely exciting. I spoke to band members JT and Alex before their gig at Nation Of Shopkeepers, Leeds, about why they aren’t a ‘supergroup’, the boredom of touring and their refusal to get a myspace.

The website thisisislet.com two of your fans created for you after finding out you didn’t have a website has expired and is now advertising erectile dysfunction remedies and breast implant surgery- does this mean you’re finally going to get a myspace?

Alex: No way, is it really? Haha,  well we’ve got our own website now, isletiselt.com.
JT: Presumably their subscription ran out….

Are you gonna give them a bit of dosh to help it out?

Both: No way (laughs)

Have you ever met the guys that set it up?

Alex: We played this show in Swansea and it was really nice, they came up to us after this gig and were like, Oh how do we get in contact with you? And we said, well at the minute we haven’t got many things, we’ve got an email but that’s about it. And they said what, you don’t have a website? So they made one then and there in the venue. Within an hour they showed us and we were like, oh thanks. They asked if we wanted to run it but we were like, if we wanted to do it we’d do it ourselves, kind of thing, if you wanna keep it as a fansite though then that’s cool.

JT: We really appreciated it though.

Do you genuinely think it’s a more effective way of getting yourself heard to not have a myspace? I suppose people probably feel more of a connection to something they’ve come across by chance rather than getting told by someone or reading something.

Alex: Absolutely. The crux of it is that we want to get more of a word of mouth following. Sure you’re more likely to come across a band on myspace, but then again if a friend comes up to and says ‘I saw a band and they were well good’, you’re gonna remember that and maybe think about going to see them. It makes it more of a real experience. We’re trying to keep things in a more real space where people get an actual emotional response. It’s pretty difficult in a live gig not to feel something, whether it’s something negative or positive. It’s a reaction. I think it’s a problem nowadays that we get to react to stuff in our own time. I think it’s good when someone shoves something in your face and says, ‘what are you gonna do?’ If not having a myspace can make a couple of people feel that spark and go to a gig and think, ‘God, I had no idea about this’ then it’s worth it.
JT: With myspace, it’s all the same format.
Alex: It’s so easy to have your own website and your own formats and stuff like that. We can stream the whole of the first record, if we want to.

You get described as a Cardiff supergroup. How do you feel about that?

JT: We stay away from the word ‘supergroup’. We’ve played in loads of bands and stuff…
Alex: It just seems like such an ironic turn of phrase, cos everyone’s played in different bands and stuff. I started in a band when I was 13 but that doesn’t get mentioned.
JT: Jimi Hendrix covers….

Your songs shift between quite a few different styles of music- does everyone in the band have similar music tastes?

Alex: It’s quite eclectic. We all have similar ideas about music and how it should be done, but everyone’s specific takes on music are different.
JT: It’s like a crossover
Alex: It’s good because it makes the creative process a lot more interesting. One of us will come up with something that you’d never even think of.

People seem excited by you because not only are you quite an elusive band but the stuff you are doing seems to be very different to most of the stuff that’s around at the moment.

Alex: The thing I like about being in a band is that you get to indulge your silliest whims. I’ve no idea what we’re doing differently from other bands really.

How are you finding touring? They say the drummer is always the craziest member of any band, and you all seem to be drummers and some point, so is it a crazy tour van?

JT: We’re not particularly crazy (laughs), we’re quite responsible really….
Alex: JT and Mark do all the driving so we’re a kind of self-contained Scooby-Doo outfit.

Is touring actually quite boring then?

JT: (laughs) Well, it’s a really exciting story, you get to a place and the soundchecks at 6… and we’re here at three so you park somewhere for two hours, then you’ve drive round and find somewhere else… You do have to think about it, especially since it’s just the four of us, we’ve all got joint responsibilities.
Alex: Technically it sounds boring…..
JT: It’s loads of fun though

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