The amiable and laid back Irishman Grant Fox, joined Scotland’s Idlewild from Irish rock band Turn, approximately two and a half years ago to replace bassist Bob Fairfoull and has cemented his status as an earnest and genuine member of the band ever since. He kindly took time out from sound checking for their show at the Manchester Academy to give us a peek into the world of one of the UK's most honest and sincere musical outfits. Their fourth and latest album; ‘Warnings/Promises’ was the first one written collectively as a five piece, as oppose to front man Roddy Woomble instigating matters. Do they feel more of a unit and has their song writing process drastically changed?
“We have certainly made a transition, it is two and a half years since Allan (Stewart) and I joined the band. Roddy still approaches the lyrics in the same manner, but it is bound to produce something new with myself and Alan having more of a say in the song writing process.”
This led the discussion neatly onto the topic of the material featured on the new album, as is customary with Idlewild it is bucking the musical trends of the time, are they conscious of this? Gavin shrugged his shoulders, but did not hide his sense of pride and maybe even relief at this realisation;
“Yeah, we seem to miss every trend. We don’t look at what popular bands are doing and follow them, it is not our style. The band always puts out a record that the band wants to play and feels comfortable playing.”
What about standout offering; ‘Disconnected’? It appears to me to be a reflection of growing out of your roots, possibly a reaction to long periods of time on tour;
“Roddy wrote it about where he is from up in Scotland, but yeah, returning home from being on tour can be a complete head fuck. You get home and your head is mashed.”
Maybe it was the exalted feeling of leaning on the piano on the stage where Idlewild were to perform later on, as I had a burning desire to delve into the topic of their live sound. They have toured with Pearl Jam and did a friendly and low-key acoustic tour, what did they take as a band from those experiences?
“Touring with Pearl was the greatest three weeks in my careers as a musician. They are humble guys who write songs how they write songs, simply. We loved doing the acoustic tour and showcasing our new material in venues we had never played before.”
I couldn’t resist enquiring as to whether or not it was much different opening for Pearl Jam than touring with Coldplay, a pleasure that has also been theirs in the past? A wry smile preceded the amiable Irishman’s reply;
“Well, I mean Coldplay haven’t been going as long so they don’t have hardcore fans in the sense that Pearl Jam do. We really admire Eddie Vedder and his band they are so self contained, when you are that big you can afford to do it all by yourselves and ignore outside influences.”
I decided to wrap things up by indulging myself with a question about my favourite old song and a very apt one for Manchester; ‘Bronze Medal’ on their ‘100 Broken Windows’ album. This offering demonstrates aptly that Idewild’s glass is not half empty or half full; it is opaque, as the lyrics highlight;
““Nothing but your eyes looking down on the third place.
You've got nothing but determination to come in third.”
He agreed with my viewpoint that third prize can be both good and bad; I won a record voucher for finishing third in a race and bought a Sick Of It All album with it and it was my prize position for a few weeks thereafter. Gavin looked proud and a little mischievous before taking on his reply;
“Yeah, there is always that contradiction there. I think that songs sums up Idlewild; Bronze medal.”
Being a proud Manchester City fan I had to ask whether they would dedicate ‘Bronze Medal’ to the Manchester United fans present at the show later. In true diplomatic fashion he simply retorted;
“Well I’ll ask, but won’t we get beaten up?”
Check Idlewild's old and new sound at a Festival this summer;
Friday 10th June: Isle Of Wight Music Festival
Saturday 18th June: Isle Of Skye Music Festival
Sunday 31st July: BBC Radio 2 Cambridge Folk Festival
Friday 12th August: Summer Sundae Weekender
Saturday 20th August: V Festival 2005 (Staffordshire)
Sunday 21st August: V Festival 2005 (Chelmsford)