My latest interview with Klaxons appeared in various publications across Australia. Here is the version that was in Victoria's Inpress: ROB TOWNSEND TALKS TO AWARD-WINNING BRITS KLAXONS AS THEY PREPARE TO RETURN TO AUSTRALIA TO COMPLETE THEIR POSTPONED TOUR
“For the first year we were a complete sack of shit. We were a shambles. We were horrific.”
Klaxons guitarist, Simon Taylor-Davis, humbly reckons that when the band formed a couple of years ago, their musicianship left something to be desired. However, the fact that their debut album, Myths Of The Near Future, recently won the Nationwide Mercury Prize, the most respected award in the UK scene, suggests otherwise. “In England you can get big in a short space of time in terms of being a band that a lot of people are talking about. The hype is justified if you can destroy it, and I think we did,” he beams. “We decided really early on that we wanted to lock ourselves away and just create a really good record.”
They certainly achieved their objective, with the prestigious award once-and-for-all proving they amount to far more than merely being the latest NME flavour of the month. “It’s incredibly hard to know what is happening when you are in the middle of something,” Simon says when I ask him whether he feels like he is in a big, famous band now. “We don’t read any press because we’re never in England and we don’t see anything we do because we’re never in one place for long enough. So the only thing you can judge it by is live shows. Earlier this year we did our first ever UK headline tour and we played two shows at Shepherds Bush Empire, which is a huge venue in London. It was a gauge that people really do want to come and see us. So that was a really emotional tour.”
In spite of claiming the most esteemed accolade in British music, selling out tours and stealing the show at this year’s Reading Festival, the four friendly chaps that make up Klaxons are hardly household names in their native land. They may have gained plenty of kudos on the back of their Mercury Prize, but they can still walk through London without getting a second glance from most punters. One guesses that’s exactly the way they like it, and they have a level of unpretentiousness that success doesn’t seem likely to permeate. Equally, in spite of shifting heaps more albums since they won the award, they aren’t exactly living in the lap of luxury just yet. “We don’t have any friends anymore; we just hang around with each other. We still don’t go out. We’re still hermits. We still eat at the same shitty Turkish restaurants. Nothing’s really that different,” Simon shrugs. While their humility is endearing, in reality things are very different in Klaxonworld nowadays. They arrive on these shores fresh from a whirlwind tour of North America, where there were more than a few late nights and no end of celebrities turning up to their gigs and after-parties, including Bjork and The Strokes. Make no mistake, Klaxons are hot property.The mouth-watering news for Australian fans of the apocalyptic popsters is that they return to Melbourne brimming with confidence about their ability in the live arena. “I think for the first time we can go on record and say we can actually play,” Simon chuckles when our conversation returns to his self-deprecating belief that Klaxons used to be a bit rubbish. “We’re definitely a better live band now. You can’t help but accidentally learn to play when you’re performing every night for four or five months in a row. The songs are sounding better, everyone’s vocals are sounding better, the parts are better. The shows are still completely crazy though; they haven’t lost any of their energy.”
Of course, Klaxons should have been over here a couple of months back, but had to pull their Splendour appearance and side-shows after bassist/vocalist Jamie Reynolds fractured his ankle when he landed awkwardly after jumping from a stage in France. While unquestionably disappointing, the postponement has only heightened the band’s excitement about finally returning. “We were gutted we had to cancel our Splendour show but unfortunately there was nothing we could do,” keyboardist/vocalist James Righton tells me. “The gig was too soon after Jamie's operation for him to safely fly. We’re definitely gonna make it up to Australia though. We’re really looking forward to it.”Jamie’s enforced spell with his feet up allowed Klaxons to begin work on their follow-up record, which leads me to ask if they’re worried about the ‘difficult second album’ syndrome that so many bands suffer from, especially considering how lauded their debut has been. “We’re in a very fortunate situation because we made a difficult first album. We’d been together for less than a year and we were making it up as we went along,” Simon admits. “We weren’t in a position where we had fifty songs of which we could choose the best ten. We literally had eleven songs, and we wrote two of them in the studio when we were recording the album, so it was tough. The pressure was on. To know that people get it and like it is huge motivation, so now’s the fun time. We can experiment with stuff."
Expected to land early next year, their second long-player will see a natural continuation of that distinctive Klaxons sound, with pop sensibilities clashing with a harder edge. “The first album shone torches in a few places and ignited ideas. As far as sounds go, it will be full of contradictions: heavier, softer, faster, slower.”
For now though, the new album is put to the back of Klaxons’ minds. More pressing is their overdue return to these shores. “Melbourne was incredible last time. I never knew what a modern city it was” Simon exclaims. “It was an amazing experience and everyone was incredibly polite, but we were literally in Australia for two days, so we didn’t see anything. We’d been on a month-long tour of Europe before we arrived and we were exhausted. Then we were taken to the edge by Modular Records. We got off the plane and we were all dead, but they just wanted to go out and party,” he laughs. When Klaxons party, they do so to the point of excess, and they certainly brought that spirit to the stage when they headlined the Modular Christmas gig last year with an exhilarating and riotous performance. “The reaction was incredible,” Simon says of the rapturous reception they received. “It blew us away. It was bizarre being so far away from home and people knowing our songs. That never fails to surprise us.”