Not-So-Quietly Spreading Their Brand of Art-School Punk Rock
Photos by: www.ikaracolt.com
Interview by: Deirdre Day-MacCleod
Blasting their way through a set that seemed far too short, Ikara Colt commanded the stage at Maxwell's in Hoboken in a way that made the rather unmoving audience look like a collection of confused mannequins. Equipment problems forced drummer, Dom Young, to spent a fair bit of time sitting on the floor with roadies running hither and yon while the audience, who had come primarily to see Sahara Hotnights, milled about and asked, "Who are these guys anyway?" Nevertheless, this is the kind of small club the London art-school punk band Ikara Colt loves to play in: "I mean that's what it's all about, isn't it?" Young said before the show. Bassist John Ball took a break from his pre-show beer to cheerfully sell a Sahara Hotnights T-shirt to a plumpish and pallid post-adolescent wearing black lipstick.
Prefix Magazine: I had read something about how a certain member of the band took 2000 pounds that was designated for the purchase of a van and spent it on something less respectable.
Ikara Colt: On the second night of their first American tour -- a forty-day, forty-night loop of America lying ahead of them half-noose and half-enticement -- the four got together to talk about their debut album, Chat and Business, about their influences and their riot-inciting behavior, and about why the Chili Peppers should call it quits.
Dom Young: Oh no, that was not true at all. That was not me. I did not spend 2000 quid on drugs. That was not me. That was some journalist. After that was published I had to tell my mother it wasn't quite true. Irresponsible journalism.
PM: But, you all put stickers in your album and it got Chat and Business (released in the US March 4, 2002 on Epitaph) banned from the UK charts. That story is true?
I: DY: That's correct. It was considered a free gift and that's illegal. It's banned in England. You can see on the cover the text that related to them. It was quite a conceptual piece in actuality.
PM: I've heard all sorts of things about you guys ...
I: DY: Don't believe what you've heard ...
PM: ...like that you're really big in England and that you cause many riots.
I: John Ball: We are massive in England. I live in a big gold house and I tried to burn money in the back, but the neighbors complained. I tried to burn it out the back because I can't get rid of it fast enough. Everywhere I go, girls, girls, girls, throwing themselves at me. The riot thing, that was just coincidence though.
Claire Ingram (guitar): Many riots? Well, there were two riots on one tour, weren't there?
JB: We just happened to be playing that day. It's just like a black storm cloud of riots that follows us around.
DY: The riot thing is a lie; the drug thing is a lie.
PM: But there is an element of violence associated with you. Your name is the name of two guns correct? A Japanese one and an American one?
I: DY: That's a lie. We just picked the words out of the dictionary at random. It just came out that way. You gotta know that journalism is all lies. You cannot believe a word of it. A colt is a young horse.
PM: And Ikara?
I: CI: Journey in Greek.
DY: See. Nothing to do with guns at all.
PM: And then there's "Sink Venice," which I hear offended the Italians?
I: JB: That's not our fault. It's not a violent song at all. Just descriptive. Venice is sinking. It's not our fault, we get blamed for things. That's been going on for a while now.
DY: People are going on about it being a manifesto. They've got it completely wrong. I've got no time for the futurists.
PM: But if you had manifesto, what would it be?
I: DY: Be yourself. Well, be yourself, unless you are a rightwing fascist.
PM: Like your lyrics where you say, "Be yourself," and then, "Going through the motions again?"
I: JB: Well, we say, "Be yourself," but obviously we don't really mean it, right?
PM: So Ikara Colt is just part of a long tradition of art school bands?
I: DY: Yeah, we were all there (at art school) and Claire came and said she wanted to form a band. First I said no and then I heard her play and I thought, There's something here.
PM: So if you want a band, you go to art school, not music school?
I: CI: Yeah, definitely. Music school is terrible. It would be horrible.
DY: Besides, we're not musicians.
JB: Artists are people who can't really do anything else, I think. They're like society's misfits.
CI: I wanted to be in a band and I asked him (Dom), but he said no.
DY: But then I heard you play and said "There's something in there," and we both started. The others all just sort of joined up. Paul used to place bass before John, and we tried to audition hundreds, well not hundreds, but fifty or sixty, to be the lead, and they were all rubbish compared to this gentleman.
CI: This deejay in England, John Peel, played our demo on the radio station and then we got a deal with a little label, Plastic Fantasic. We went out and cut a couple of singles and we did an album. Then Epitaph came knocking at the door.
PM: Someone wrote that you were like a better -- more intelligent I think it said-- version of the Strokes.
I: DY: We're nothing like them. They've got tunes for one thing.
PM: I must admit I didn't hear it at all. Why do you think people keep making that comparison?
I: DY: They're lazy journalists is why.
PM: Maybe the Hives?
I: DY: No, no, no. We're not like anyone else. We are ourselves; there's no one like us.
PM: When you come back on your triumphant second tour who will open for you?
I: Paul Resende (the frontman): U2 (laughs). No, not really. I don't like them.
DY: Red Hot Chili Peppers. I hate them more than ... more than ... But I better be careful or we'll get beaten up. I don't be one of those people like them. I'd rather be dead. The Chili Peppers? Where's the funk in that? They're not funk. Compared to, you know, the Stones, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are not funky. Not funky at all. If someone does something in any job, I've got time for them. But still. The Chili Peppers. How long have they been going? Twenty years? They ought to be home with their wives and kids.
PM: In five years you will stop playing? You've announced that no band should last longer than five years.
I: DY: Yeah. That's the right.
PM: What about The Fall? They've been together forever.
I: DY: Yeah, yeah. They're a different band, though. It's just the name. After five years, you really should call it a day. On the whole. Don't end up like the Chili Peppers. We want to keep the quality, and when it's rubbish we're going to stop. Bring the music to the people.
CI: We've been together two years.
JB: We've still got a couple of years a head of us, so that we have time to make tons of money and change our minds.
DY: Absolutely. That's why we can be so judgmental. We've got three years left.
PM: What then?
I: DY: I'm going to teach printing I think.
CY: I'll have another band.
PR: Yeah, another one.
JB: If I'm alive, I'll deal with it then. If I'm not, then I'll have nothing to worry about.
DY: We're going one day at a time.
PM: You play all your own stuff?
I: CI: We don't cover. Well maybe in the privacy of our own space.
DY: Otherwise people would realize how incompetent we are.
PR: We don't do covers. Once you get to that point you might as well be dead.
PM: But sometimes a cover brings something to the original and it isn't just a copy. What are your favorite covers?
I: CI: I'm listening to some Detroit covers now.
JB: Love buzz covered by Nirvana after Shocking Blue's 60s original.
PR: Devo's Satisfaction.
PM: What's your favorite cover then, Dom?
I: DY: Time's passed. I'm not talking now.
PM: In the US we say, "I'll take the fifth" when we don't want to talk. Maybe you could say that for the next month or so. In the tradition of British bands invading the US, tell me, If you were the Beatles, who would be whom?
I: DY: Well, I'd have to be Ringo of course. And Paul would be John and John would be Paul. But that's far too confusing.
JB: Well, I'm not going to be Paul. He can be Paul because he already is and I'll remain John.
DY: Paul did some good tunes, back then. He got by on bass he did.
PM: What about Claire?
I: DY: Well really, she should be Paul.
JB: Well where does that leave me?
PR: She's Rod Stewart.
CI: Rod Stewart?
PM: Any other other lies you want me to set straight?
I: PR: Well, the ones we have been telling you today.
JB: Everything's a lie.
DY: Family first. Don't believe the hype.
PR: You can always make stuff up; everyone else does.
PM: So you really aren't big in England?
I: DY: Well that's the only thing what is true.
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