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Hotstar


12:00 AM Monday, 8/1/05 |   |

Chances are, if you read anything about Bloc Party in the music press, you'll see fellow U.K. bands Kaiser Chiefs, The Futureheads, and Kasabian mentioned somewhere within the same lines.

And, although being lumped in with these buzz bands may be good exposure for the London-based dance-punk quintet, Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes doesn't quite agree with the comparisons.

"We're doing something that's a bit different than they are," Moakes told Pollstar. "In my heart, I feel that we're the best of those bands.

"There is more color to what we do and it's more varied. I like those bands, but I just think we stand out. We're a band where you can tell there's an equal weight in terms of the musicians. ... I'm sounding quite arrogant in this interview, I'm usually more humble about what we do."

Bloc Party manager Simon White of Coalition Management agrees with Moakes, saying he'd rather see the four-piece compared to bands like Bright Eyes, Interpol, and Radiohead. As far as he's concerned, Bloc Party's sound isn't even in the same "ballpark" as some of their U.K. counterparts.

"I find it ridiculous," White told Pollstar. "A lot of stuff on the Bloc Party album runs far deeper than that."

With that confidence, however, Moakes and his bandmates - singer/guitarist Kele Okereke, guitarist Russell Lissack and drummer Matt Tong - are still surprised and slightly bewildered when they read press quotes like "The most anticipated group since Coldplay" and "It's just a matter of time before ... Bloc Party takes the States by storm."

"It's kind of strange because a year ago we never would've imagined it," Moakes said. "We haven't come out here to be the best British band; we've come here to bring our music to people."

Agent Matt Hickey at High Road Touring isn't surprised the band is being embraced in America. He attributes the group's success to its March debut, Silent Alarm, and a non-stop tour schedule, which includes many summer festival stops worldwide.

"What's happened here is that they made a record that is very good from start to finish," Hickey told Pollstar. "The coolest thing I hear from people isn't, 'Oh, I heard that one cool song from Bloc Party.' They say, 'I heard that record.'"

Hickey first realized he struck gold with the band when a date at The Fillmore in San Francisco sold out in one day. The same thing happened with back-to-back shows at New York City's Webster Hall.

The group has also managed to sell out concerts at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club, two gigs at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia and many more.

"Right when I announced the [U.S.] tour and those kinds of things started to happen, I knew Silent Alarm was getting around and it was reaching people," the agent said.

Along with their talent for writing and performing good music, Bloc Party has a strong commitment to work hard and build a solid audience in the U.S.

"They rarely turn things down when opportunities come along, even if it means they're going to be super fucking tired," White said. "I've never known a band to have this kind of work ethic, and that's what is making them great.

"To me, it's a long-term project. I don't view them as being this year's Killers, or whatever. I view it as an album project, a band that is specifically driven by the artistry and songwriting. That's what it's all about for them."

In between playing festivals (which include Coachella, Sasquatch, Music Midtown, Glastonbury, Rock Werchter, Quart, Oxegen, T in the Park, Splendour in the Grass, Summer Sonic, Leeds, Reading, Austin City Limits) and countless other gigs, Bloc Party has found a unique way to write new material for an upcoming album.

"They rehearse new material onstage for four hours before a show," the manager said. "They make the crew load the equipment into the venue early and they rehearse every day."

Part of Bloc Party's drive to tour frantically from one country to another stems from a deal the band worked out with Vice Records prior to signing a contract.

"When we signed to them, they said, 'The one commitment we want from you is to come and tour at least three times this year,'" Moakes explained. "In between that, it only makes sense for us to play in the U.K., which is our home. There's also a demand in Japan and Europe as well."

During the foursome's recent North American jaunt, Moakes said playing new venues was a definite breath of fresh air.

"We've had shows in Portland (Ore.) where the crowd was with us from the get-go, and in Vancouver people were dancing onstage," he said. "In San Francisco, it kind of ended in chaos with us jumping from drum kits.

"It's kind of revived my faith in it because we've been on the road for so long that you can't help but get a bit jaded with certain audiences."

 

 


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