Bloctober @ Engine Shed: Interview with Bloc Party’s Gordon Moakes

— Bloc Party performed at the Engine Shed in Lincoln on October 12 and their gig was cut short by the venue’s fire alarms, due to production smoke. The Linc’s music correspondent Ashley Partridge had a chat with the band’s bassist Gordon Moakes before the gig.

For the better part of a decade, Gordon Moakes has been Bloc Party’s bassist. He cuts a tall but unimposing figure, calmly answering questions and often pausing for thought. It’s quite the contrast to my expectations. Bloc Party are known for being one of the bands in the last five years, having released a quick succession of albums that cut a line between indie-rock and electro. Frenetic, Gordon is not.


Bloc Party lead singer Kele Okereke (left) and bassist Gordon Moakes (right) during the Engine Shed gig on October 12. | Photo: David Robinson

I gather that the rest of the band (Kele, Matt and Russell) are out visiting the city, so Mr Moakes takes up interview duties. Bloc Party are currently doing a massive UK tour, aptly titled “Bloctober”. It’s their first proper outing since the release of their last album, “Intimacy”, over a year ago. I ask why they’ve chosen to go out on the road now:

“We’ve done a handful of big shows over the last couple of years but no real tour of the UK. I don’t think any of us considered six shows in Manchester, Birmingham, London, etc as a real tour” Gordon explains.

It’s a far cry from their days spent working the crowded London scene in 2003. Back then, indie-pop was trouncing over the grave of nu-metal and getting ready to take centre stage. Bloc Party were always quietly confident in themselves, Gordon says, despite the capital’s scene being “cut-throat”, as he puts it.

“There was no cohesion to the gigs.” Gordon reminisces. “We played with bands that sounded just like The Strokes and then bands that were more into the post-rock, Mogwai thing. Or bands who did the new Britpop, like Kaiser Chiefs. There was so much competition.

“It probably did us a favour, in a way because we had to fight past all that and stand out above it.”

Clearly, they’ve done just that. As countless other indie bands (the majority of them called “The” something) fade into obscurity, Bloc Party look ahead to a new decade where they can stand on their own.

Asking anyone about the future is always tricky and I wonder if Gordon has a better idea of what lies ahead than when he was just starting out. “Not really”, he says, “even for a band like Radiohead, ten years still seems like a lot.

“We share a booking agent with them and I said: ‘They’re in their forties. They must have a better idea of what’s going to happen’ and he said no. You don’t know what’s round the corner and you never do. You’re just making it up as you go along.”

The Bloctober tour finishes at the end of the month and “Intimacy” is available on Wichita Records. To hear more of the interview, download The Linc Magazine Weekly podcast.

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