Q&A: Art Brut’s Eddie Argos
"If I went around punching everyone who didn't like my band, I'd be a very tired man."
The first rule of indie rock fight club is that you talk to the press about it: Eddie Argos, outspoken frontman of Art Brut, gives SPIN.com the skinny on the fisticuffs that broke out between Argos and Bloc Party lead singer Kele Okereke over the weekend. “He wasn’t very good at hitting,” Eddie tells us. Oooooh SNAP!
SPIN.com: We’re curious about what happened over the weekend between you and Kele.
Eddie Argos: It’s my fault really, because I was really drunk at Glastonbury, and did an interview with Playlouder [a UK website] where I slagged Bloc Party off. I said they weren’t very good, which I now regret, but I apologized to him at a different festival. T in the Park? Kele came up to me and I said, “I’m really sorry, I’m stupid for what I said. I mean I don’t really like your band, but I shouldn’t be saying bad things about you to journalists.” I thought it was over and done with because he walked off. And then on Saturday, I was out and he came over and grabbed me and started shouting at me. And I said, “Look, Kele, I’m really sorry. We’ve had mutual friends in the past and I think you’re a nice person. I don’t really want to fight with you,” but he wouldn’t leave it alone. So I ended up saying something — I don’t regret what I said, I stand by it — that “you’re [Kele] a bit moany and go on a bit,” and then he punched me. Then I was pulled off by different people and sent outside, and then he came back in and said, “I’m not sorry for what I did,” and started shouting at me and pulling me. I ignored him and he went away.
What him set him off in the immediate?
He seemed pretty highly-strung; it got out of hand. At T in the Park and stuff, he went on the telly and called me fat. In an interview with Channel Four he said, “Oh, Fatty Argos,” and that stuff, after I had just apologized to him. That’s the kind of comment that killed Karen Carpenter, y’know? I don’t need people callin’ me fat. That’s not very good. I never said he was fat; all I said was he’s a bit moany to Playlouder. I said that [Bloc Party’s] a bit like Oasis, but instead of ripping off the Beatles and the Stones they rip off the Gang of Four, but they’re still just nonsense about helicopters and chocolate, and I think that’s what offended him. I’ve got a big mouth when I’m drunk and I’m stupid, but, I mean, I have apologized about three times now. I was trying to apologize last time when he hit me, y’know? So it’s not really my fault. I feel a bit bad, but then he shouldn’t really hit people. I don’t know, maybe he was drunk or something because he wasn’t very good at hitting. His heart wasn’t really in it, I’d say, perhaps. Yeah, he’s quite a big fellow, and he probably could have hurt me if he’d wanted to, but he didn’t, so I don’t know. I’ve got bruises on me, but I don’t think they’re from him. I’m really quite clumsy; it’s probably just from falling over or something.
Do you think this is going to be something that continues, or are you guys going to try to bury the hatchet?
I hope it doesn’t continue, but the fact that I’m speaking to people about it, it’s really going to wind him up more, isn’t it? I don’t want it to continue, but it probably will. I’m not apologizing anymore, though. Jesus. I’m tired of saying sorry to him. He’s quite sanctimonious. I’ve had enough of that. So I’m just going to avoid him. It’s a shame I ran into him on Saturday, because I was trying to have a nice night out.
Is London such a small scene that you would probably run into him again?
I’ve never run into him before. It was a club I don’t really like. My girlfriend [Paula Cullen of the Irish band, the Chalets] was in from Dublin and my friend Ed was DJing at Catch 22. I don’t really like the place anyway, but I went there. It’s full of music types and drug addicts. I hate it, but I was pumped anyway. Then I saw him and was like, oh God, now this has got even worse. But it was fine, apart from the thumping. The club was quite nice in the end. They played nice music and stuff, but being thumped didn’t help. It’s a very odd thing. I feel a bit sorry for him, really. But he shouldn’t hit people, and I’m not apologizing to him anymore. I think just the sight of me winds him up, so I’m just going to hide. I just feel a bit bad about the whole thing. If I went around punching everyone who didn’t like my band, I’d be a very tired man.