“Can I order some food please? Can I order the rump lamb please? The rump of lamb?...I’d prefer some broccoli and some hand cut chips, with a rump of lamb…”
Sorting an interview with Kele Okereke is about as easy as persuading the Pope to endorse Durex, so even if I have to hear him order his tea, I should probably count myself lucky.
The Bloc Party frontman is notoriously aloof when it comes to interviews, but to be honest I can’t blame the guy, as the media have always seemed more interested in his race and sexuality than his music. Granted, we aren’t awash with gay, black frontmen in indie music, but what difference does it make who Kele climbs into bed with at the end of the night?
Away from his personal life, Kele is under fire regarding the future of his band. Bloc Party are currently 'on a break', and many corners of the media paint the scene as a messy affair, with rumours rife they could split. I remember seeing the last Bloc Party show in Bournemouth last October, and although the mood was lifted by Kele dressed as a giant banana (well it was Halloween), it did seem like a goodbye.
So, after two rearranged interviews and his first UK solo show in between, I finally get on the blower to Kele. We chat about his dance infused solo album 'The Boxer', his stealth-like plan to avoid every single game of the World Cup and his plans to recreate Zidane’s historic headbutt if some nobhead starts shouting for old Bloc Party songs at one of his gigs. Then Kele realises he's quite peckish.
I hear you’re moving to Manhattan, how did that come about?
I’m not moving yet, but I would at some point like to move to New York, sure. You know, I’ve lived in London since I was seven years old and I think it’s great and stuff, but I think it’s about time I saw something else you know. It’s just for a change of scenery really, I get bored really easily and I think it’s time I saw somewhere else for a little while, but it won’t probably be ‘til next year.
Is it true that this you're fleeing the UK in protest of David Cameron?
Ah that’s not really true.
But if it was you at number 10, what laws would you bring in?
I’d make stiffer penalties for bus drivers, I’d make...(phone rings)…oh shit, hang on.
"Hello. Hello? Oh nooo, are you serious? Can I just get a burger and chips then? No cheese and no mayonnaise…thank you."
Ah I’m really pissed off now.
Is your rump of lamb off the cards?
Nah the kitchen’s closed, or some bullshit like that. But yeah the kitchen’s closed, I understand that, it’s no one else’s fault apart from my own. But that doesn’t help me out as now I have to eat a burger, and I’m going to New York tomorrow so I’m going to be eating burgers the whole time, I’m going to turn into a burger.
Tasty. So yeah, you were talking about clamping down on bus drivers if you became Prime Minister?
I’d just makes like really stringent penalties for bus drivers who drive past and leave people stranded, specifically night buses, that’s my least favourite thing about London – mean night bus drivers.
"Sorting an interview with Kele is about as easy as getting the Pope to endorse Durex, so even if I have to hear him order his tea, I should probably count myself lucky."
So in a job interview they’d need a nice smile?
Nah, nah, nah, I just think they should fit cameras on bus stops and if a bus driver goes past a bus stop without stopping for the people, especially if it’s at night time. I’d have their licenses revoked…I don’t even think it’s a case of three strikes, they’d have to go.
Not a bad idea, bus drivers do seem to take some kind of sick pleasure in that.
Yeah I hate it, I hate it.
Well we should probably talk about music at some point. The album seems to be a progression following on from 'Intimacy' [Bloc Party’s last album], how important was it for you to make something that was completely yours?
It’s not that important, you know, we decided to take some time off but I wanted to carry on doing something so I just made a record by myself. There was no desire to launch a solo career, it was only really because I wanted to keep on working really, and once we had the record I realised I should promote it, as I was proud of it I should promote it properly. You know it wasn’t about feeling frustrated in Bloc Party or anything like that at all, it was just a desire to keep working, and it was nice, very interesting stuff in the project. I learnt a lot about myself and learnt a lot about what I can achieve if I put my mind to it, so yeah it was good.
Would it really bother you if that was it for Bloc Party?
Would it bother me? Would it bother me if that was it for the band? You know I’m not sure. That isn’t it for the band, we’re gonna work out where we are, we’re gonna work out, erm…no no no that’s not it for the band. We’re going to work out where we are at the end of this year. Would it bother me? Well if it ended, you know if we decided we’ve had enough, it wouldn’t bother me if it was a mutual decision, no not at all, but I can’t say until that happens.
What about if you were to put a new supergroup together, who would you have in it?
I’d probably choose Brian Eno, Roxy Music period, to play keyboards/synthesizers. I think he had a good look and a good approach to playing music. Probably Carlos D [ex Interpol] to play bass as he’s my favourite bass player around right now. Who else? I’d probably choose…the drummer from The Strokes to play drums, I like his style, it’s very metronomic, he knows when to use the bass drum. I’ve always liked how he plays the drums. And then I guess I’d probably have someone like Courtney Love fronting it as she’d be funny every night, at least there’d be some drama going on. I would be the manager backstage making all the money. It would be a laugh.
Definitely an eclectic mix, let me know when it's happening, I'd pay a lot of money to see that.
(laughs) Well I’d have to check with the others to make sure their schedules were free.
'The Boxer' by Kele is out 21 June, you can buy it here.
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