Following on from their ‘Best band’ award in the 2000 Jockrock awards Idlewild have gone from strength to strength, notching up their first top 10 single with ‘You Held The World in Your Arms’. Now they’re preparing for the next release and the subsequent album. Holed up in a London hotel doing press for their new single and album, Rod Jones took the time to have a chat with Jockrock.

So is it a hive of activity down there what with England and the World Cup?
I haven’t really noticed to be honest. I’ve spent most of time answering questions in this hotel room!
Bearing in mind your location, are you following the SNP advice of supporting England?
I don’t really mind – I’d like England and Ireland to do well.
So why are you there anyway, are you playing gigs?
It’s just really for doing press down here – but there’s a free gig in Paris week on Friday, for French radio.
So how’s the album shaping up?
Seems to be coming on well, everyone’s quite confident. I never get carried away or something’ll happen…
Is there a sense it’s all moving along by itself, maybe getting out of control.?
Not really, though it’s interesting when you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next – but we’re just doing lots of press and local tv and stuff.
Are the constant interviews etc the downside of the ‘job’?
I don’t mind it at all, plus it gets a handle on what people think.
So what about the comparisons to The Smiths, for example, I suppose you’ve been hearing that from people. Is that down to the Steven Street production?
He only produced a couple of sessions at the beginning, there’s just one song on the album. It’s good to get compared to bands you like and a good way for people to get a handle on the band if they don’t know them – if you’ve never heard a band then I don’t have a problem with people reading comparisons
Are you fans of The Smiths anyway?
Yes, we liked them.
I’m a big fan, we all are, but don’t really see it myself.
I’ve seen U2 mentioned too but all I can see if a sort of Irish twang on Roddy’s voice on the new single (‘American ‘English’)
(laughs) He must be getting into the spirit of U2 thing.
Were you aware of any U2-ish feel or sound?
There’s a feel of space in the sound of ‘Joshua Tree’ – big chords, it suited the song so well. We didn’t try to recreate it but thought it was a good way to approach it in that way – it was more just the sound of it than anything else.
You’ve set some sort of record I believe on the single, being on the Radio One playlist 6 weeks before release.
I heard someone else say that this morning, must say I didn’t know that.
So what’s the songwriting process been for this album?
Really the tried and tested method, in a practice room, 4 of us playing. But with this record especially after we did stuff with Lenny Kaye he just changed our outlook on music – how to write, how to record. We just wrote a lot on acoustic guitar, just getting the bare necessities of songs in the studio and see what happens.
How was it going into making the difficult 3rd (proper) album?
We didn’t think in these terms; we just try and make each album better than the last and I think this one is the best one we’ve done.
Do you think the HIT single was down to being the most commercial you’ve done or is it that people are just more in tune with you?
It’s more direct, I can imagine more people listening to it. We’ve become more confident to push things to the forefront than we’d done before, lyrically and musically. I think we have songs for everyone, we’re a lot more selective than we’ve been before. Though it’s not a conscious decision, just the way it’s happened, that we’ve become more confident in our songs and in the way that we play them.
Have you found that here’s been more interviews etc than before due to all this new interest?
Dunno – I’ve not taken note. The good thing about the top 10 is that it’s validation on what we’re doing, and a cue for people to listen to your band, people will say “maybe I should listen to their album”
Are the singles just promo for the album?
In a way, but if you have good songs you want to hear on the radio… you should put one out that’s a reflection of an album.
Radio One have said for a while that they liked us. That’s the best way for people to get into us really. Again we try not to think about it too much, just about playing, writing songs, and ignore everything else. It’s not something we worry about too much.
So what’s the best bit of live in the music business?
The fact we don’t know what’s going to happen next!
But you’re still enjoying it?
Wouldn’t do it otherwise!
Just that here are so many bands who’d keep going and churning out music rather than go back on the dole.
Yes, but there were never any careerist motives with the band, we just enjoyed playing.
So do you enjoy playing live most?
Everything – not really one more than other. Live is good cause it’s immediate and an adrenaline rush etc – but recording’s well thought out, considering what you’re doing and having the liberty to try out lots of stuff.
So despite the trials of being a rock star you still enjoy it?
Yes – we’re not smiley smiley all the time, some things’ll piss you off but we’re in a fortunate position.
So is the album “up”?
We’ve never been the most optimistic people in the world – quite a cynical band. Maybe less so on the album but it’s not happy happy – but not morose either though. We don’t do songs about just walking down the street, or “last week I went to California and I’m so happy”
Roddy’s lyrics are just well thought-out, and certainly a lot more direct than before. They’re more ‘universal’ and musically the album is as well.
So what have you been listening to un the run-up to the album?
You know, it’s such an education in music doing what we’re doing. So we’ve been listening to earlier British stuff – Gang of 4, Echo and the Bunnymen, staple US indie like Fugazi and Talking Heads. And stuff like Bert Jansch and John Fahey.
You just find out about so much music, that’s maybe why we don’t sound like a specific genre. If something’s good it doesn’t have to be rock or a reggae album. Subconsciously it might turn up.
What about this reggae track? (mentioned on the press release)
It’s on the B-side, done with Lenny Kaye – it’s a kind of ranting narrative rock song- Lenny said “why don’t we try changing things round in the middle” and we ended up doing a reggae bit.
Any of you reggae fans before that?
I’m not an expert, I have a couple of Trojan box sets and that’s about it.But it’s interesting to see if you can play things like that, stuff you’d not usually do.
Any bands you don’t particularly rate among the current crop? Fancy having a pop at The Strokes or The Hives?
I think The Strokes are an excellent band
I feel a bit sorry for the fact they were so hyped, the music was overshadowed by people… well, by the press. Just when it comes down to it a they’re a really good garage rock band. It’s one things we’ve never done and have an album with a really specific sound, every song a specific genre, but theirs is, the songs have a specific thread to them but they’re easily distinguishable, really strong melodies. It’s a really tough thing to go and make an album where each track has a similar feel to it but easily distinguishable as a different song. I saw them live, it was just a really good rock show. was really impressed.
Go on, give us a few Scottish bands you rate too.
Aereogamme, Eva, Stapleton, Laeto, there’s probably lots more, all great bands, Teenage Fanclub are one of my favourites obviously too.
Though what I’ve been listening to most recently are Mars Volta and Sparta, 2 halves of what was At The Drive-In, it was kind of good they spit as you get 2 really good bands instead of one. I just think they continue to set standards and make an interesting rock music.

‘American English’ is out on July 2nd with the album ‘The Remote Part’ on the 15th