Wild Beasts - 2014 - By Klaus Thymann

Photo by Klaus Thymann

WILD BEASTS, Berlin, Domino Records office, tea, biscuits, slick dudes: Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming being honest and as beautiful as men can be. The band’s highly anticipated fourth longplayer Present Tense is about to get released these days. Perfect scenario for NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION to start with a few ‘Either/Or’-questions as a warm-up before digging a bit deeper with these lovely gentlemen.

Tragedy or Comedy?

Hip Hop or Techno?
Hip Hop.

Beer or Wine?

Confetti or Sequins?

Playing Live or Studio?
Live Studio.

80s or 90s?

Talk Talk or Lady Gaga?
Talk Talk, I think!?

Jeff Koons or Francis Bacon?
Francis Bacon.

Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus?
Lady Gaga.

Dancing or Talking?

Climatic or monotone structure?
Monotone structure.

Marihuana or Cocaine?

Hypnotic or surprising?

Henry James or James Joyce?
James Joyce.

Guitars or Keyboards?


Keyboards, well: So tell me about your new record then.
Have you heard it?

I had a long drive last weekend..
I always think it’s a good test of a record. For me it’s on the train. If it keeps you going on the train  and kind of romanticises the train journey. I remember listening to the album from London to the Lake District where we live. So it’s kind of the soundtrack of this passage through Britain, from the kind of decadence of the South, you know, getting the train out of London: All these incredibly expensive and lavish buildings and then slowly creeping up to the kind of industrial broken north. That’s a good cross section of what the record is. The backdrop to the record really is the landscape of  the industrial north, where we’re from, which is a very grey area.


Was that an approach to the record? A concept? Transposing kind of a trip into music?
No, not really. Its more how we listen to music. It’s supposed to transform your landscape in some way. Will that be literally passing by the window or actually the way you’re going about your day. It’s supposed to have some kind of effect. Some kind of juxtaposition I guess, with what things are actually like versus how we tell you they are. I think all the best bands – say KRAFTWERK, they take the landscape and they romanticise it into this kind of mythic..


..exactly. Like the M6 or M1, or, you know, like Wigan, which is a shitty industrial town. These things are no less worthy than the Autobahn or Bruce Springsteen’s New Jersey Port. They are just as valid or worthy. We think it’s important to beautify those things.

How are they transcribed into your music?  What’s the expression of a landscape?
I think there is kind of a romanticism to our music. There is a sense of the space. Certainly this record is more of a city album than we ever made. I think it’s much harder sounding and much more synthetic. But I think there’s always a kind of human touch and a human mess to it as well. I’m often put off by music which is too perfected and presents itself in too slick an exterior.

..too static..
Yeah. I think it is in the sonics, this kind of landscape. I don’t wanna over-theorize it, but our sonic layers are a mixture of very crude, broken, accidental parts with some very lavish and highly orchestrated production on top a s well. It creates this kind of very unique structure, hopefully. And i think the british landscape is that mixture of the broken and abandoned and the taken away. London is a good example of that. You can walk one minute and you are on a street where you’d have to be a millionaire to live on, to walk round the corner where the government is paying for you to live there. And this is literally next street. And we kind of think, naturally, the album was kind of written in those in-between spaces. We all live in London. But no one wants a band as a neighbour. So we were moving from place to place, finding enough spaces to make our noise.