We are major, major fans of Wild Beasts here at IMPOSE. Their latest album – Boy King – drops Friday, and you can stream it on Apple Music right now. A labor of love, the band – comprised of Hayden Thorpe, Tom Fleming, Ben Little and Chris Talbot – put themselves under an immense amount of pressure to produce an album that would make their audience feel something. Thorpe originally imagined it as a cross between Justin Timberlake soulful pop and the gritty feel of a Nine Inch Nails album, and the band set up to create something that incredible in their studio space in London. We’ve never heard of a writing and production process so enlightening, and it made us even more stoked for the band to unleash their next big project on the world.
We were super amped when we got the green light to interview them about what’s been going on, the process of creating their new art, and what to expect this week as it rolls out.
How did the name Wild Beasts come about?
It began as an ironic name. A “fuck you” response to the macho and cliched music we were surrounded by. I think there’s a beautiful symmetry to the fact we now sound like a band who are called Wild Beasts would sound.
You’ve got a new record coming out soon. What was your favorite thing about creating it?
The process of making it became a life affirming adventure. It felt like the coming together of half a lifetime spent honing our craft and half a lifetime spent together still learning about each other and ourselves. The time we spent in Dallas was my favourite. Making a record is a reincarnation of self, I feel like I’m loosing stones of weighty a day just shedding old itchy skins.
How was it working with a Grammy-winning producer like John Congelton?
He was inspirational, both executioner and councillor. When you’re making a record about the duality of make identity, the boy and the King, you need a producer who has the capacity to be both. His sonic prowess is mind boggling and the speed with which he works kills all over think and self consciousness which I found so powerful.
How would you best describe ‘Boy King’ and the process behind making it?
Boy King is a record about transcending yourself, being bolder, bigger, more than you are. It is a record of the id, it’s about the demands of the body over the needs of the mind. I learnt about myself during the process, the songs told me of parts of me I hadn’t yet acknowledged.
What was the most difficult part?
Probably the beginning phase, knowing we had the time, tools and ability, but we were at base camp before the assent and it only natural to worry if you really have it in your to reach the summit and then get back down intact.
I’ve read that you might have had a minor breakdown during the making Boy King, could you expand on that?
A minor breakdown is a nice term, I guess if I think about it I’ve had one of those with every record, I don’t know how to make a record without having one! Making a record changes the landscape of your life, it becomes and object in your inner world, more room and working out where to place it can be a challenge.
Was it a group breakdown or just one member?
As a group I think we’re still learning about each other, despite being a band since teenagers we still find ourselves in unlikely and absurd situations which can reveal a person. That’s why our vital signs are healthy, this is still a living breathing organism.
Is there one thing in particular that you want people to take away from the new album?
Maybe a certain feeling, emotion, point of view, etc.
To feel larger than life, to stick your chest out and inflate, not to be too flattened by what is proper and too self conscious. The Boy King is ugly and destructive in some senses, but he is visceral and alive.
You’ve been described as feminists before. Would you mind expanding on that and how it came to be?
I guess we’ve always made quite effeminate music and responded quite angrily to the boys club aspect of rock music, in that sense we’ve always aligned ourselves on that team. We know the joke is on us, we’re the absurd guys in a rock band! Our song Alpha Female is kind feminist cock rock if there is such a thing. It is a sing celebrating the powerful strident woman using many of the macho tropes of rock.
How important is that identity to the music you are making?
I think it’s really important, it’s where all of our artistic license comes from, we can do things which are borderline tasteful and risky because of that position. We exploit it by daring to blow it.
Who is your favorite superhero?
Batman. A disturbed loner hell bent on vigilante justice. What’s not to like?
What’s up next for you?
Today is our first day of the Boy King tour, I’m about to enter the labyrinth, all else will soon melt away.
Aug 5 – Rough Trade East, in store (London, UK)
Aug 18 – Green Man Festival (Crickhowell, UK)
Aug 26 – Electric Fields (Dumfries & Galloway, UK)
Sep 2 – Into the Great Wide Open (Vlieland, Netherlands)
Sep 4 – Electric Picnic Festival (County Laois, Ireland)
Sep 24 – Reeperbahn Festival (Hamburg, Germany)
Sep 28 – Motion (Bristol, UK)
Sep 29 – 02 Academy (Oxford, UK)
Sep 30 – By The Sea Festival (Margate, UK)
Oct 1 – The Foundry (Sheffield, UK)
Oct 3 – The Junction Cambridge, UK)
Oct 4- Roundhouse (London)
Oct 5 – Roundhouse (London)
Oct 7 – Northumbria Uni (Newcastle, UK)
Oct 8 – Qmunion (Glasgow, UK)
Oct 9 – Manchester Academy (Manchester)
Oct 12 – Botanique Orangerie (Brussels, Belgium)
Oct 13 – La Gaite Lyrique (Paris, France)
Oct 14 – Le Grand Mix (Lille, France)
Oct 15 – La Laiterie (Strasbourg, France)
Oct 16 – Luxor (Cologne, Germany)
Oct 18 – Pumpehuset (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Oct 20 – Kesselhaus (Berlin, Germany)
Oct 21 – Lucerna Music Bar (Prague, Czech Republic)
Oct 23 – Rote Fabrik (Zurich, Switzerland)
Oct 24 – Musicbox Lisboa Festival (Lisbon, Portugal)
Oct 25 – Magnolia (Milan, Italy)
Oct 26 – Epicerie Moderne (Lyon, France)
Oct 29 – Bime Festival (Bilabo, Spain)
Boy King drops on August 5th. It is available now for pre order.