While an oppressive heat rages over a field in rural Suffolk sends most people scurrying for shade, IDLES frontman Joe Talbot, as usual, does the opposite. “Can we sit in the sun?” he asks politely. “I spend too much time in the shade,” he adds as way of explanation. Just a couple of hours before he is due on-stage at Latitude Festival’s BBC Music Stage, he sits down to discuss IDLES’ second album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’, the triumphant follow-up to last year’s sleeper hit ‘Brutalism’.
That debut seemed to arrive fully-formed from out of nowhere, a state-of-the-nation record presented in a series of savage, darkly sarcastic takedowns. The follow-up, some of it written even before ‘Brutalism’ was released, channels that rage into something positive, life-affirming, and yes, joyous. But before that positive outcome could be reached, personal tragedy struck as Talbot and his partner grieved following the death of their child. While they dealt with that earth-shattering event, he underwent counselling. “One of the things I learned was that I had to show more vulnerability to my partner, talk to her more about my feelings,” he explains quietly, “and while doing that, I realised that it was something you could do in a band too. Be vulnerable to your audience. Because with that comes a self-confidence, and then that, in turn, can breed open-mindedness.” That realisation slowly manifested into an album themed around celebrating differences, challenging views without lambasting opposing ones, unity over disharmony.