Interview: Russell Lissack of Bloc Party

June 30, 2006 11:16 AM
by Christina Fuoco
LiveDaily Contributor

Long before its debut album, "Silent Alarm," was named NME Album of the Year for 2005, Bloc Party was surrounded by buzz from critics and fans alike.

The band--vocalist/guitarist Kele Okereke, bassist Gordon Moakes, guitarist Russell Lissack and drummer Matt Tong--is trying to avoid the hype as it works on its proper sophomore effort.

"I was thinking about it today," Lissack said. "It's hard to avoid the pressure when you read things about you. We try not to think about it too much. Especially over here [in the UK], the press is hot and cold. They'll turn on you for no reason. We just want to get back to how things were and get back to playing music. It's unavoidable."

The English band has embarked on a North American tour in support of "Silent Alarm" and the remix album "Transgressive Singles Vol. 1." In between dates, the group is working on a follow-up album, for which all the backing tracks have been recorded.

LiveDaily: Do you feel a lot more pressure working on your second album?

Russell Lissack: Um, I don't know. We're trying not to let it bother us. The first record was a lot more successful [than we expected it to be]. There is a lot of pressure to do the same again. We just want to make the music we want to make. We'll try not to get crushed by the pressure.

Are you looking forward to your US tour?

Yeah, yeah I can't wait. It's going to be a very good time.

It must be a big change going from playing large clubs in the UK and small clubs in the US.

We were playing smaller clubs last time. This tour, we're going to be playing bigger clubs. I'm not sure how big the places are. I hope the one in New York is going to be quite big.

Why did you decide to go with a remix album? Was it to tide fans over to the next album?

I think it was more done by people we really like. It seemed like a good opportunity because a lot of them weren't enormous here. They were good remixes. We had nothing to do with them. It seemed like a nice way to put them all together.

So these were remixes that had already been done and you decided to put them on an album all together?

Yeah, yeah. A couple had been released as B-sides over here in England. I think most of them, nobody's really heard before. I guess DJs had heard the stuff. But most of them had been unreleased. It was quite a nice idea.

Have you started your next album?

Yeah, yeah, we've been quite busy. We've been recording. On the last tour we didn't have much time. We popped into the studio in between festivals and recorded four new songs. We've been writing a lot. We're touring now until the end of the year so we probably won't [complete it soon].

How does the sound of the new material compare to the previous release?

It sounds a bit more polished, I guess. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I don't know if that's a good word. It definitely sounds like songs from previous things. We're writing so many songs, so I don't know where we're going. I think they're going to be bigger than they were before.

So it's a natural progression?

I think so, yeah. We wouldn't want to repeat ourselves. That's the way things are going.

What is the songwriting process with the band?

Kele writes all the lyrics. Sometimes Gordon contributes here and there. We do all the music between us. We just had a rehearsal today. We went back to the studio where we used to practice before we were signed and stuff. That was quite nice.

That must have been neat to go back to the old studio.

It was kind of nice. Doing our little thing again. Ignoring all the craziness.

This is a track-by-track remix of the band's debut. Highlights include remixes by Ladytron, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Mogwai, M83, and Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The first 15,000 of the US edition will contain a bonus CD with three b-sides of non-album tracks, acoustic versions of the album track "Plans", and the b-side "Storm And Stress".

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