On this week’s episode of After School Radio on Apple Music Hits, Mark Hoppus talks with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party about their new album, ‘Alpha Games’, as well as the 15th anniversary of ‘A Weekend In The City’.
Kele Okereke Tells Apple Music About The Title ‘Alpha Games’…. The title came to me due to a conversation I was having with my best friend, who doesn’t work in the music industry. He works in a corporate environment and he was telling me about an issue that he was having with one of his higher ups just reminding him constantly that he was above him, that this guy was in charge and my friend was subordinate. He used the term Alpha Games to describe that kind of tussling. I’d never heard it before, but it just seemed to make sense, looking at the songs that we were writing for the record. It just seemed to be a perfect title because there’s so much conflict in the music and yeah, it just seemed to stick.
Kele Okereke Tells Apple Music That The New Album Is About Conflict… Mark Hoppus: Was this album about conflict?
Kele Okereke: It’s hard to think of an overview because when you’re making the music, you’re just going on instinct or whatever, but having to speak to people like journalists, like you and yeah, I kind of realised that conflict seems to be at the core of pretty much all the songs and this idea of trying to get one over on people, trying to kind of manipulate people. It seems to be all throughout the record. To me, yeah, it is an album about conflict, I think.
Kele Okereke Tells Apple Music About The Recording Process…
It’s kind of a funny story. We started writing Alpha Games in 2018 and when we were touring we were doing these, Silent Alarm shows, our first record and we were going all over the world and we had lots of time in sound checks and we were kind of piecing a lot of the ideas together then. By the end of 2019, by the end of the Silent Alarm shows we were ready to make a record. We’d written all this material, but then obviously the pandemic happened and the world kind of went into lockdown, so we had to sit on it for like a year and a half and I was a bit nervous about that because usually I’m not really very good at sitting on my hands. I was worried that I’d have the desire to deconstruct or rework the music and I didn’t want to do that because we all felt so happy about where it was at the end of 2019. I made a solo record actually in that time called The Waves, which was fun for me to have a creative outlet, but it was also important because it meant that I let Alpha Games be what it was going to be and I didn’t try to take it anywhere else.
Kele Okereke Tells Apple Music About Adjusting To New Band Members…
We toured our last record Hymns with this new lineup, although a drummer Louise, she didn’t drum on the record. Then we did the Silent Alarm shows. We got to tour the world twice before we actually made music together and I think that was a really good thing because we really got to have a sense of each other’s musicality. We really got to understand how everyone plays and how everyone writes and I think we wouldn’t have been able to have made the record if we hadn’t had the time to just sit with each other. You know how it is. If you’ve been in a band with the same people for a long time, things would start to become instinctive. You realise that your other musicians have a certain way of doing things, which is like second nature, but we kind of had to learn all that stuff with Justin and Louise and we did. They showed me things that I’d never really seen before as well, which was fun. It was fun to see the sound going to new places.
Kele Okereke Tells Apple Music About “Learning To Feel The Magic Again”…
It depends. It’s changed with every record and it changes per song, but usually, I mean with Alpha Games, we all brought things to the table. I would come in with just some chords or a riff and then I would show that to the band and then that would inspire someone to bring something else and it was all very spontaneous. Everyone being in the room at the same time coming up with these parts and shaping the direction and I think that was important for us because of Hymns, the record before Alpha Games, it was all very studio based. It was very liberating, but we recorded it as we were writing it straight into the computer, but Alpha Games we all had an opinion on the arrangements that everybody else was doing and it just felt very natural and very spontaneous. That was important because that’s what a band is really. We kind of had to learn to do that, to feel that magic again.
Kele Okereke Tells Apple Music About His Reality TV Obsessions..
A friend of mine told me that they’re currently filming the new season of rural Housewives of Potomac. He was telling me that he’s got some inside gossip about what’s happening and it sounds awesome. That’s probably my favorite. Although, I don’t know. At the moment I’m watching something in the UK called Ex on the Beach. I think you have that in America as well. There’s actually a really great show called I Like The Way You Move and it’s a kind of dating show. The premise is there’s one part of the couple was a professional dancer and they have to find another person to dance with and it’s just about seeing if they can have romantic chemistry and also perform in this competition. I just think it’s kind of fascinating. My partner hates it and has no time for it at all, but I just think it’s fascinating, this idea that they’re supposed to have romantic chemistry at the same time as working together. I don’t see how that can ever work, but I’m only four episodes in, so let’s see if it does work.