Bloc Party reject British stereotypes despite London sound

Thu Aug 9, 2012 7:18pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bloc Party may have won over fans worldwide with their trademark London sound, but the band is determined not to be branded as just another British rock band on the U.S. music scene.

Lead singer Kele Okereke, whose thick London accent is what makes Bloc Party's sound so rooted in Britain, told Reuters, "There are times when I don't really feel British at all."

"A lot of British pop music makes the mistake of being quite nationalistic or quite parochial in its appeal...but I don't know if that translates well outside of the UK," Okereke said in an interview marking the release this week of the band's fourth studio album "Four."

"Lots of British bands are quite bullish about being seen as British and being superimposed against a Union Jack in their photographs and we've never really been that way," the singer said. "There are lots of things about Britain that I'm not really very proud of and I think a lot of us in the band feel the same way."

Bloc Party - lead singer Okereke, guitarist Russell Lissack, bassist Gordon Moakes and drummer Matt Tong - propelled onto the music scene with their debut album "Silent Alarm" in 2005, building a following with their fusion of electronic sounds and heavy bass lines with rock music.

"There's always been an epic nature to the music that we've made, there's always been a sense of drama...we definitely had bigger ideas than many other bands in our position. We wanted to make something that was textured and dense and immersive," Okereke said.

For "Four," the band was keen to make something "that sounded rawer," moving away from heavy studio production and leaving incidental noises in tracks, such as amps buzzing on "Kettling" or the band talking on "So He Begins To Lie."

The band presented their new album at a recent KCRW radio showcase in the California beach city of Santa Monica, where they performed lead single "Octopus" and bass-heavy "Team A".   Continued...

Lead vocalist Kele Okereke of the English band Bloc Party performs at the Virgin Music Festival on Toronto Island, Canada, September 6, 2008. REUTERS/Jill Kitchener