THE incredible Moderate Rebels have been talking with me…
about their new track, Beyond Hidden Words, and how it came together. They tell me about their forthcoming album and what we can expect in terms of themes and stories – I discover how Moderate Rebels got together and what the secret to their sound/music is.
I ask how important it is getting on stage and performing; which upcoming artists we should have a listen to; whether there is any time to unwind – they reveal what gigs are coming up and pick some cool songs to end the interview with.
Hi, Moderate Rebels. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello. Good, thanks. We’ve had a good week. People have been kind enough to play the new Moderate Rebels song on the radio and also write encouraging things about it…so; we’ll smell the flowers along the way, why not?
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Moderate Rebels is a collective of friends, based in London, that get together to make music that hopefully is of its time (i.e. now). We call ourselves ‘anti-music’ as the emphasis is on feeling and ideas rather than technique or cultivating musical skill. We work with our limitations and look to make music we like - that’s it, really.
Beyond Hidden Words is your new single. What is the story behind the song?
Uses of language, generally, seems to be a running theme in Moderate Rebels songs: what words are used to justify all kinds of behaviour and their different potential meanings – and, also, what is and isn’t said is part of that too. But, we feel this is a really hopeful song…maybe about breaking through all of that; getting past those slippery words, and what’s not said, and into strong feelings and people joining together…to look to put a stop to things that they don’t feel should be going on.
It is from your forthcoming album. Can you reveal any titles and themes that are explored?
How language can be used and misused is certainly in there. Also; how the energy and glorious noise of music can genuinely lift up your feelings and, therefore, from that start to make a better day, perhaps…
It lifts us - so that’s why it’s coming out into the world, really.
Do you think there is a secret ingredient in your music? How would you define the ethos and sound of Moderate Rebels?
It’s not a secret as such, but actively not thinking is a really big part of what’s going on for us. The music seems to arrive in an unconscious way: we don’t try to write it. We didn’t try to record this album or the last; they just arrived. Embracing our limitations is important, as is simplicity: “Use as few words and chords as possible” we say. Around the first album, someone said Moderate Rebels were “simple but complicated” which we liked.
How did you two find one another? Was there an instant spark?
There are many members of Moderate Rebels - but only some people will show up for photos…others only play at gigs; others do artwork or go to the studio etc. We found each other the usual way, really: friends, other music groups; parties, friends of friends etc. Some people will be involved in some things but not others.
It’s a fluid set up, which suits everyone.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Not to be funny here, but we don’t hope to achieve anything, really: we’d like people to hear the music we’ve made and we want to play some fun shows. Maybe make another album after that. There’s nothing we want to chase with this; making the album we want to make and putting it out into the world is the achievement for us. There’s nothing much to win and nothing much to lose beyond that.
Have you both got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
We had a very good time playing Rockaway Beach at Butlin’s in January - and the first Moderate Rebels live show - where we really didn’t know what was going to happen. It could have been a total disaster…it was very exciting. That went so well that we decided to write more than just the one song we had at the time.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Kanye West. I do think he is one of the all-time greats. Yeezus may well be my album of the century so far...
Vegan curry on the rider, please.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
The only advice we have to offer is…don’t listen to anyone’s advice…we don’t think that’s the
best way to get to the point of doing whatever it may be that you would really want to do.
Where can we see you play? Do you have any gigs approaching?
11th August at Tooting Tram & Social; another gig in October in London, plus a few more…and then we are doing a U.K. tour in late-November around the album.
How does your live set usually sound? Will you be playing new album tracks or dipping into your past work for upcoming gigs?
Some shows we’ve done have just been thirty-minute versions of one song: sometimes, we do six songs. There’s no constant. New and old songs probably, yeah. But, they will be different from the album versions and, sometimes, pretty different. We’re not particularly interested in faithful reproductions - you can listen to the albums for that. We want to make unrepeatable live moments if we can.
Is it important getting on stage and putting your music to the people? What kind of buzz do you get?
Very important, really. It was the reason we carried on with Moderate Rebels, after the first show, and did more music. If our gigs are approached correctly by us then it should have an unpredictable element and tangible risk of collapse in it…which seems to bring the best out of the group and also make it more engaging than just another gig for the audience.
We would much rather risk the odd disaster here and there and reach for something special than be just reliable or professionally slick. Personally; we’re just not inspired by that kind of stuff and we have no desire whatsoever to be light entertainers.
IN THIS PHOTO: The Blinders
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Losing ourselves in music, listening and playing, is one of the main ways we unwind. Cycling about the place is also a favourite. Apart from that, the usual: books, films; art, dancing etc. Nothing that special.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Kids See Ghosts (Kanye West, Kid Cudi) - Reborn
Arctic Monkeys - American Sports
Spacemen 3 - Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here)
Mark Pritchard (ft. Gregory Whitehead) - Come Let Us
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