Interview: Wild Beasts – 'on this record, we've dared to look stupid'
Wild Beasts talk change of direction, channelling their inner Byron and how musicians can respond to Donald Trump
If their latest album Boy King is anything to go by, chameleonic indie survivors Wild Beasts are tired of being critical darlings. 'Take the collar off / won't be a housecat no more,' croons frontman Hayden Thorpe on album opener 'Big Cat', signalling the beginning of an album fixated with testosterone, sex and male aggression.
'I suppose at this point in our careers we should be buying houses in the suburbs and getting in orchestras to fill in the gaps on a bunch of anthems,' says Thorpe, before detailing the band's efforts to avoid the kind of 'creative death' that befalls established bands in the maturity of their career. 'You have to be able to open yourself up to ridicule,' says Thorpe, who reckons the new 'life-affirming record is 'really about our 14 year old selves rather than our 30 year old selves.'
'I think on this record, we've dared to look stupid – the best stunts are the ones that almost go wrong. It allows me to channel my alter ego, this kind of carnal, primal Byronic guy inside me, and that's fun,' he says. 'I think everyone has this dark side to our inner psyche, and I think it's great to watch someone explore that on stage.'
Discussing the rise of US presidential candidate Donald Trump as a backdrop to the album's themes of masculinity and power, Thorpe says, 'Someone like Trump is quite a scary guy to people like us, the way he identifies and treats differences. I think the best way to counter his sort of hostility is to embrace tolerance and diversity and different ways of looking at the world, to shout louder and be prouder about tolerance than he can about difference.'
Wild Beasts are on tour until Mon 10 Oct.