Home > Everybody talks too much > Songs for Zinging Lovers: An interview with The Indelicates

Songs for Zinging Lovers: An interview with The Indelicates

ILB has never hidden its adoration for The Indelicates. “American Demo”, a bucket of bile frozen and carved into something truly beautiful, is a top 10 album of the 00s around these parts, and when it comes to the noble art of trolling, for us they rank just below TISM and just above those 4Chan kids who send pizzas round to the houses of teenagers who’ve just committed suicide. The new Indelicates album, “Songs for Swinging Lovers”, is out Monday, and “Sympathy for the Devil”, its lead street single, has a video as seen above, notable for a) how it kinda sounds like The Pogues if you take the vocals off b) the tapdancing bit which feels like something from The Harry Hill Show circa 1998 c) Julia’s outfit, which caused us to spend around 15 minutes trying to find the appopriate gif from Friday to insert into this review. Here it is:

Anyway, we have actually interviewed The Indelicates, and we hereby present to you the end results. Enjoy.

I know it seems kinda perverse to ask you a question unrelated to the album at first, but for those of you who haven’t been following your Twitter/avoid Cory Doctorow at all costs, what exactly is the Digital Economy Bill and what does it mean for your common-or-garden music fan/what.cd user?*

The Digital Economy Act, as it became this week, is a wide ranging piece of legislation designed to bring the law up to date in the way that it treats the internet. Unfortunately, because it was drafted by a generation that doesn’t understand how the internet works in consultation with a music industry that doesn’t want to, it contains a number of stupid, dangerously illiberal measures designed (poorly) to halt illegal filesharing. Among them are the mandating of disconnection from the internet as a punishment for copyright infringement and the blocking of any site that “is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright” (a terrible definition that could easily be understood to include Google, YouTube, IchLugeBullets and Corporate Records). It was rushed through parliament on the last day that it sat with the nod from the Tories and hopelessly ineffectual Lib Dem opposition.

I don’t believe the measures will have the slightest effect on music’s ability to pay for itself – I think the problems caused by the internet for the industry go much deeper than piracy (google “simon indelicate” AND indieoma if you care to read why). I do believe that any unjustified attempt to halt the free flow of information around the net is an assault on the best thing to happen in the field of human liberty since Tom Paine started writing pamphlets. I don’t believe that boosting Lily Allen’s financial solvency will ever be justification for such an assault. So yeah, I’m very against it.

Common-or-garden music fans, if statistics are to be believed, will find it slightly harder to fileshare at their current rate. What.cd users will probably find that What.cd is blocked by their ISP. Musicians will be no richer and former A&R manager and industry spokesman Feargal Sharkey will have a smug look on his face for a while. That is all.

Dovetailing this into an actual discussion of the Indelicates themselves… you’re releasing “Songs for Swinging Lovers” through your own corporaterecords.co.uk on a pay-what-you-like model… how much of this is out of a disgust or unease with the current path of the Music Industry (capital M, capital I) and how much was just for the benefit of yourselves?

I do find the music industry personally disgusting. And I believe that it is obsolete – only managing to survive at all by exploiting nostalgia and by lying to children. We did beg our record label to drop us so that we could get on with making records and we have spent a long time building an online record company that we will be using for all future releases and that anyone else can sign up to for free and use the same way that we will be. We didn’t do this out of disgust or unease necessarily, but it was in direct reaction to the situation we found ourselves in this time last year, dead broke having earned nothing at all past an advance that covered two months rent and unable to write or record anything because a company hadn’t decided whether to require a second album from us or not.

I see it as simple economics – traditional record companies no longer perform any economic function. The expensive scarce resources they once controlled (recording, manufacturing, distribution, promotion) have all been made cheap and abundant by the internet. As such, disgust an unease are irrelevant, I wouldn’t advise any band to sign or seek a record deal, they’re no good for anyone.

Previously you’d talked about The Indelicates as a “stadium rock hate band”, but yet what we’ve heard of “Songs for Swinging Lovers” so far seems a little more intimate. Is that fair/correct? Have you gone directly from “Making Movies” to Mark Knopfler’s solo career without going through “Brothers In Arms” in between?

Finally! someone who understands us! To be honest everything I’ve ever done has just been my way of working through complicated father issues by engaging with an oedipapally complex metaphorical system in which Knopfler plays the ‘good father’ archetype, Peter Gabriel plays the bad and Stevie Nicks plays both the desired and repellent mothers. Anyone who claims to enjoy The Indelicates without referring directly to this psychological reading has failed to understand the point of it and can fuck off.

I see Songs For Swinging Lovers as my Wag the Dog soundtrack – if that’s not too bold a claim.

Tags assigned to Indelicate tracks on last.fm include: “beautiful”, “indie”, “fairytale rock”, “If this song was a Pokemon I would catch it”, “quirky”, “political”, “Swedish”, “music wrongly tagged as twee” and “shit”. Which of those do you agree with?

In order then,
Beautiful: er…
Indie: used to mean ‘signed to an independent label’ and we now aren’t, so nope.
fairytale rock: that sounds like Nightwish to me. We’re not very like
If this song was a pokemon I would catch it: well, you could try, but I think my song could take down your charmander any day of the week.
Quirky: I don’t have quirks, it’s all of you who are weird.
Political: occasionally
Swedish: News to me, but I like it.
Music wrongly tagged as twee: Very much so.
Shit: er…

Seriously though, why do people keep calling you twee when you, to my ears at least, share little in sound or ethos with either the c86ers or the Miffy-badges-and-yellow-raincoats Twee As Fuck brigade? Is it just the fudge thing?

I know. Right from the first thing we ever did we got that tag on last.fm. So much so that we got booked for a twee festival where we were the loudest band by several mile-high stacks and where the set mostly consisted of my brother spinning round and pulling rawk faces while bookish young people with Paddington Bear’s dress sense took turns to shush him.

I always wondered if twee just means something else now. Maybe its because we rarely write about proper deep stuff like how things are yellow and how it’s nice to lie on beds with a girl. My fudge is awesome though.

One of the big things that comes through a lot of the Indelicates stuff is a kind of “we stand alone” mentality in yr “We Hate The Kids” and “The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock and Roll”. Your kinda “coterie” of artists you seem to have encircled yourself with includes yr Chris T-Ts and yr Akira the Dons and even Art Brut, who are all artists that don’t seem to share that much in terms of genre or style with you (even if they do in ethos). What I’m kinda grappling at is… do you deliberately seek to stand alone? If every indie band out did take massive Carter USM influences and did tracks about how neo-burlesque dancers are the enemies of feminism, would you still sound the same or would you deliberately attempt to sound utterly different?

I would like to say no, that we only end up standing alone because everyone else is such a prurient, money-grabbing, child-deceiving wanker – but you have a point. I don’t ever feel comfortable unless I’m breaking a consensus, it’s why the Devil is my favourite character in fiction – I like the idea of someone born with no purpose other than to rebel, who can’t submit or serve, even if submission and servitude are both sensible and better for everyone. That’s what the new album’s about really – being a savage in a brave new world, Satan in paradise…

So yeah, as to whether I’d want to change what we did if everyone else did it too: yes. I think so. I moved out of Brighton largely because a bunch of kids from my year at school moved there and started regularly bumping into me carrying guitar cases – there was an overwhelming sense that if
they were doing what I’d been doing for the last seven years, then I couldn’t be doing it anymore. If they turned up in Camden with some songs about how some rich girls from twentieth history got involved in political extremism then, yeah, I’d probably start trying to write Screamo Crunk.

As for the coterie – They are less ‘music people we’ve surrounded ourselves with’ and more ‘music people left over once we’d shut out everyone we hated’. I suppose they all do different things – but the one shared fact about everyone you mention is that they all love Carter USM, so that probably means something.

Be honest: what percentage of The Indelicates’ lyrical content or social stances is/are trolling?

Well I can’t be honest about that, now, can I? You made a very good case for our trollishness on Ichlugebullets (I almost bought a timeshare under a bridge in Hammerfest) and I suggest you link to it and let other people decide.

Incidentally, best trolling ever.

At the end of last year, you did the “The Noughties Were Shit” blog on your website. Around the same time, BBC 3 was running a show based around the similar theory that the last decade was awful, and two of the talking heads on it were the lead singer and guitarist from Enter Shikari. What makes you more qualified to talk about how bad the 00s were than Enter Shikari?

From wikipedia: “Enter Shikari are an English post-hardcore band, formed in 2003 in St Albans, Hertfordshire. The band is named after a boat belonging to one of the band member’s relatives…”

Do I really need to add anything?

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song by Enter Shikari – I don’t really like listening to anything except popular science audiobooks – but I bet I was cross for a higher percentage of the noughties than they were. And I bet I could have them in a shouting-at-the-television competition.

Finally, would you like to call the guy from Scouting for Girls a twat before we finish?

You know the guy from Scouting for Girls?
He’s a twat.


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