Idles guitarist Mark Bowen says he enjoys the challenge of being the “underdog” at music events and sees the shows as an opportunity to grow his fan base.
The Bristol-based rockers will play their second weekend at Southern California’s world-famous Coachella festival, a performance that has been postponed due to the pandemic.
The band was just gaining momentum at the end of 2019, having played Glastonbury for the first time in June and being nominated for a Brit Award for Best Breakthrough Act.
A string of UK shows followed before the tour was halted by the pandemic that was ravaging the live music industry.
But with restrictions almost lifted, the band, made up of Joe Talbot, Joe Talbot, Lee Kiernan, Adam Devonshire, Jon Beavis and Bowen, have returned to the streets with a string of shows across the States, including their Coachella dates.
Bowen said the band are “very grateful” to be able to play the festival again and have used the meantime to “get on with it” and produce more material.
“It’s quite wonderful,” he told the PA news agency, speaking from his tour bus ahead of the band’s show in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We are very grateful that when lockdown started we were in a position where we knew we would come back and be in that position.
“We knew we had been booked to play Coachella and we probably would be booked to play again.
video of the day
“So we threw ourselves in and worked hard and we’ve released two albums in the meantime and to be able to play those albums live everywhere after the last two years is pretty awesome.”
Idles released their third studio album Ultra Mono in September 2020 and Crawler in November 2021, both of which received critical acclaim.
The Coachella Festival in the Colorado desert took place over two weekends in April this year.
Bowen, who also works as a dentist, said his previous experience of the festival had been “cool and messy” and that playing there was a “tougher task than playing at a standard rock festival”.
“I think we’re certainly the underdogs when it comes to culture,” he said.
“Coachella is such a broad spectrum of the music industry, it certainly has a lot of hip-hop, a lot of dance, a lot of pop, and we kind of move along the sides of those things and within the rock realm.
“So it’s a tougher challenge than playing like a normal rock festival or an indie festival… but we enjoy it, we enjoy this challenge.
“One of my favorite things about the festival is picking up people in the audience who might be experiencing your band for the first time and trying to win them over and shock them in equal measure.
“It’s kind of the idles way.”
The band appreciates that every venue and live show can be different, says Bowen, and focuses on going all out to deliver a world-class performance every time.
“For us it’s more about being the best live band we can be and trying to be one of the best live bands in the world every time we go on stage,” he says.
“If we play a festival where we’re not the kind of popular music that festival does, it’s an opportunity to attract people and get more fans.
“And when we play a festival where a lot of our fans are there, we have a chance to blow their minds and celebrate together that we’re there.
“Each night is its own thing. We (must) be as present as possible.”
He adds: “You just notice the atmosphere of the room. There’s an energy transfer and feedback loop between us and the audience every night.
“It’s our job to start this with as high and honest an energy as possible.
“From that point on, it’s an audience feedback loop. We have no control over that other than being able to pick out certain vibes in the crowd… and how to push them further.”
Despite the high tempo and energetic performances of their raw, Tory-bashing songs, Bowen says the band tries to take care of themselves backstage to make sure the moment they perform again, they’re “out of everyone.” firing tubes”.
“Our tours aren’t particularly crazy anymore. We kind of keep our heads down,” he says.
“We have crazy times like yeah but our shows are sick.
“We’re a sensible band, we’re trying to take care of ourselves these days. Some of us are sober. Some of us are not.
“The most important thing for us is that we fire off all guns every night when we perform.”
The toned-down approach also applies to the guitarist himself, who has a reputation for playing shows in nothing but his underwear, a practice he admits “actually doesn’t do anymore.”
His motive, he says, is that he “likes to upset people,” including viewers and “cool bands.”
“It’s a blessing to be able to come out here and play shows that we play,” he says.
“The audience has been waiting to see you for two years, so we have to keep at it.”
Following their desert romp and the end of their US tour, Idles will return to the UK for another gig at Worthy Farm and a special charity gig for War Child in Bristol.
The band are also eyeing the production of a new record, though Bowen declined to comment on the details or the timeline, saying there’s more to “get on with”.
“There’s always an idea about things, but that’s always changing,” he says.
“What we have to do is find the album, finish writing it and record it, and then we’ll know when the schedule is a lot clearer.
“But right now, the trend is to write and find out what it is.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/idles-mark-bowen-we-enjoy-the-challenge-of-being-underdogs-at-festivals-41576180.html Mark Bowen from Idles: We enjoy the challenge of being underdogs at festivals