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Q&A: Bloc Party on SXSW, Recording ‘Hymns,’ and What’s Next

We caught up with the band before their set at SPIN's party at the Bud Light Factory

If Bloc Party ever plan on slowing down it’ll probably be sometime next century. The British rockers were integral to the development of the verdant indie rock scene in the early 2000’s, with their seminal album Silent Alarm being a kind of founding document for electro-flecked maximalist rock. They haven’t let up in over a decade of recording and touring together, and their music has retained its energy and emotion that frontman Kele Okereke has been bringing since day one. We sat down with the band before their rollicking performance at SPIN’s party at the Bud Light Factory at Brazos Hall in downtown Austin.

Any highlights from the week in Austin so far?

Justin Harris: Yesterday’s show was probably one of the highlights for me; even though it had some rough edges to it, it was a fun show and it may or may not have to do with Tito’s vodka.

Kele Okereke: I enjoyed the show yesterday and I’m looking forward to the show today. The crowd seemed like they were having fun.

Louise Bartle: I think yesterday was good because we had a gig and then saw some other music that was playing so that was fun, just checking it out. It was a good day.

Russell Lissack: Then what happened?

Bartle: Then I punched you and knocked you out! [Laughs]

Have you guys liked Austin so far?

Bartle: It’s really cool, I’ve never been here before. I think all of you guys have though, right?

Lissack: Justin’s from here and we’ve all been here numerous times.

What number SXSW is this for everyone?

Okereke: I think three or four for me.

Lissack: Three for me.

Harris: Five.

Bartle: Number one!

So you guys dropped Hymns in January, what did you want to bring to the table with the new album?

Okereke: I guess it was a different kind of record for us to make initially because of the change in our lineup. [Editor’s note: original Bloc Party members Matt Tong and Gordon Moakes left the band in 2013 and 2015 respectively.] Russell and I started the record ourselves and the end of 2014, just demoing ideas. It’s the first record that we’ve ever made where we had the title of the record before we had any of the music so I think that influenced — at least the aesthetic — of what we were aiming for on some level and then co-working with Justin and making the record. I’d never worked with him in a writing capacity so, yeah, that was pretty fun.

And what’s next for Bloc Party after SXSW closes up this year?

Okereke: Going back to London tomorrow and we’re hoping to do some more recordings soon.