Why do you think men have a problem showing their vulnerable side?
The book I read, The Descent of Man [by Grayson Perry], which I read during the making of this album, was a really concise version of what we’re talking about right now. 95 per cent of violent crimes are committed by men. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. We live in an overpopulated country, an overpopulated world, so isolation should be a thing of the past. Even when you said men are scared of showing their vulnerable side, that language, if you think about it, is wrong. It’s not our vulnerable side we’re not showing, it’s us. There’s no vulnerable side and brave side. Vulnerability is a vehicle of showing who you truly are. What we do is hide parts of ourselves that we don’t like because we’re told not to like them by society. The more you learn to love yourself, who you are, your entirety, and listen to yourself long enough, you become confident enough to show all of yourself. You become more confident in listening to other people; they’ll be vulnerable to you and its a more lucid and fair conversation going on between different people.
How long after the release of Brutalism did you begin to work on the next Idles record?
We started writing straight away but we eventually scrapped the songs because we weren’t feeling them. We chucked a lot of songs out. We realised we weren’t happy with the writing process, so we started again.
When did the writing sessions start to feel right, then?
I can’t give you an exact date or anything, but we just got to a point where we were frustrated and realised we were trying to sustain that idea of gratitude and success from the first album. We weren’t used to reading reviews or having so much feedback. It started to eat us up a bit, I think. We realised we needed to go back to writing songs for us and listen to each other more. And Joy As An Act of Resistance came in as an idea and we realised we could change our narrative and listen to ourselves more as a way of opening up and making a change forever.
Let’s talk about the opening song Colossus and the lyric, ‘I am my father’s son, his shadow weighs a tonne.’ Do you think all men feel a pressure to live up to the expectations of their father?
My father has always been supportive about anything I do, as long as I’m happy and not harming anyone else. He’s an artist and understands and taught me, really, how to work hard in something you love. He’s taught me a lot about creating in general. He’s a very patient man, so it’s not like I felt any daunting pressure to be a man. It’s the idea of success and how I see success; he gets up every morning and does something he loves. That is success really, no matter what you get paid. That’s the dream. No matter how supportive and open-minded my father would be, there’s always some notion that I needed to live up to his successes, even though he’s super supportive. It goes beyond my father. The ideas and expectations of fatherhood is that there’s a whole history, a long line of inherited impetus in not succeeding as a man that comes from the middle ages and beyond. It’s an interesting take on pressure and how isolated I felt, because I felt like I wasn’t succeeding as a person and a man.