Interview: Ikara Colt

interview by tom maxwell

Fuck you! Fuck all of you reading this right now (especially you) and fuck all the unimportant bands muddling my brain with loose thoughts and incoherent ideas. You all take away from the brilliance that is England’s Ikara Colt by making this meager journalist describe a sound so pure and eye-opening. The fact is my music library is now cluttered with bands that I don’t even remember and don’t want to remember and all because kids have dreams of being rock stars. That shit is as frustrating as it is tiring. The fact is about 98% of the shit released we could do without. With the plethora of bands and their $2,000 studios the problem continues to get worse.

The only music you really need to have are by acts whose brilliance is so timeless that fifty years from now you can pick it up and rock the fuck out as if it was today. Timeless acts that warrant comparisons to Ikara Colt include the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs (new, instant classic), Fugazi, Sonic Youth, etc. It’s a god damn nightmare trying to explain the next unmistakable masterpiece to skeptical Americans. Thankfully, music is in a rut and it’s not hard to shake the sand to get the big rocks to the top.

When everything is said and done this band is unbelievable. Ikara Colt will make you an instant listener with their avant-punk rock that is sure to put punk on the map in 2003. Their furious musical assaults have been selling out Brittan’s largest venues for months and they just returned from their first very successful U.S. tour. However, these bastards were selling literally thousands of records in the US before they had ever been here. Lead singer Paul was really taken aback when he found out about the band’s popularity in the States. With only one LP, “Chat and Business” to date you might wonder why they have such a big hype so soon (especially with a very independent attitude as you will see), but then again you haven’t heard the album. I guarantee you people will be trying as hard as they can to recreate the sound, but like the dumb fucks most people are, it probably won’t happen for a few years. Then the sad thing is it will be some piece of shit sell-out who will sell millions of records with similar sounding radio friendly garbage. Wake up dumb shit; you can still get in on the ground level of this retro freak-out. Ikara Colt is an independently minded band with some of the most intriguing music and ideas I’ve ever heard. Come along on my journey with Paul Resende, lead singer of the epic Ikara Colt.

Tom: Paul?
Paul: (in a thick English accent) Hello? Where are you calling from?

Shit town USA, Bakersfield California.
(as if put out by the response)Why do they call it shit town?

I don’t know it’s kind of the armpit of the America I guess. It’s just a trucker town with a whole bunch of cows and farms. What about you?
East London, it could also be called shit town. I don’t know how it is in America, but the east of the town is all shitty. Someone told me it’s because the wind comes from the west so all the chimney smoke will blow to the east. So all the rich people get all their smoke blown away and all the poor people who live on the fucking east side get all the smoke.

You’re singing my song, you think they planned that?
Oh, definitely.

So are you living off the “fat of the land” being an artist and all that?
Yeah, we get by.

Let me get into it, you guys are currently on tour in Europe?
We got a little time off since getting back from the States about a month ago. We don’t start up again until autumn. We’re going to record the next album and that’s the plan. We’re currently in the demo phase. Just trying to see what we’ve got.

What did you think of the states, I know it was your first time.
It was cool, it was big, Jesus it’s big. You know how you look at a globe; well England is about half the size. I don’t know why they make it bigger than it actually is.

Probably because Englishmen drew the map. What’s it like now that England lost all its colonies.
I mean you got the common wealth, which is kind of like the ex-colonies, but get rid of the fucking queen.

The queen? What would you recommend, a princess?
I don’t want any royalty at all. They don’t serve any purpose really. Just because you’re born into it doesn’t mean you’re capable of leading it.

Yeah, but who would you have on TV, the paparazzi might be chasing you then.
I think we should just have a fucking president. I’d be cheaper to turn Buckingham palace into a fucking museum.

Start charging people for visiting.
Hey why not, tourists are money.

“Chat and Business” is definitely one of the most hyped LPs to come out of England in a long time (at least in America). Especially because when you first released the album you hadn’t even been to the States. What do you think has made Ikara Colt so influential so quickly?
I don’t know, we never planned any of this. I mean, we just put a record together, we never asked for any of this. We’re not one of those bands who care about how many units we shifted in Mongolia. We were offered a deal and we took it. The main parameter was like hey, let’s do a good album. The kind of people we are, let’s just not pay attention to what’s going on around us, let’s just do what we want to do and be done with it. I think that mentality is showing through. It’s like that old saying “give us no out of ten” or “ten out of ten”. You don’t give us anything in between and that’s the way we come from it. Either you completely fuck up or you gloriously exceed and I think that sucks really.

What about the comparisons, the media has said you guys sound like early Sonic Youth, Fugazi or even Wire.
You know, being a music journalist you have to compare bands to other bands because you’re writing about it. I do it as well; I’m not too bothered though because at least we’re being compared to good bands. I take that as a compliment. If they started comparing us to shit, then I’d be pissed off, but they’re comparing us to good bands.

I would say your political, social, and economic angst is certainly not unwarranted, but what specifically draws you to point out glaring injustices in the world?
I don’t know, I’m just like everyone else banging their head against the wall.

So your take on war is that…
The recent war was just about the next election. You know we did it, we went to war with Argentina in the 1980s. That wasn’t done for the good of mankind, that was done to win the next election.

Would you say Ikara Colt is the antithesis of the defiant anarchy movement of the 80s where they said “fuck all authority” you guys are saying “authority is all fucked up”.
It’s a difficult one, because you sort of categorize yourself and you know we’re not essentially a manifesto band in the vain of The Clash or Fugazi. You know, I’ve got a lot of respect for Fugazi because they said “fuck you we’re doing it our way” we’ll do our own album, our own distribution and we’ll see where every penny goes. I respect that a lot. That takes a lot of belief and hard work to be involved in that level. You know, making sure the tee shirts are not made by a little kid in Mexico, I really respect that. I found some of our merchandise in America that was made in fucking Mexico and that really fucked me off when they told me about that. But hey, that’s the way it works.

It’s all about making the gross margin larger.
Exactly, and nobody tells me and it’s my fucking band’s name on that tee shirt. So yeah it does piss me off and that’s why I respect Fugazi so much because they do get involved in that level. But we are not a fucking Marxist rock n roll band. The only problem with that (referring to monitoring merchandise and such) is that sometimes you can cross the border into preaching to people and I think that can be slightly patronizing sometimes and I do tend to credit people with a bit more intelligence. It’s there if you want it. It’s like watching a good movie and it should work at every level and I think this is how Ikara Colt is. You watch a good movie, you sit down and you’re entertained. If that’s what you want then that’s cool. If you want to dig a little deeper and maybe find some affection about how you feel and how that relates to me then it’s there, it can go deeper. Apocalypse Now is a great example. On the surface, it’s a damn good movie, but it will take you as deep as you want it to go. It’s the same with this band, you come watch us and we rock out. If that’s what you want to do, get completely loaded and jump around that’s cool and if you want to sit there and take it in and get deep into the lyrics, it’s there for you. I just want it to work at every level.

So, you guys get loaded a lot?
Well, we’re British, that’s what we’re good at.

Is that what gives people the bad teeth?
(taken aback) What’s that? Yeah, it’s the gin and smoke that just rots your teeth. We’re famous for bad teeth.

I’ve always wanted to become a dentist and move to England (laughing)
Your calling from California aren’t you, everyone has good teeth over there.

So besides daydreaming about sinking cities (referring to the track “Sink Venice”) what is your normal songwriting process?
We usually work from the ground up. There’s no single songwriter. We write the songs, I deliver the lyrics and we just work it out in one room together. Different strokes for different folks as they say and some bands work with just one songwriter who comes in and teaches the band the song, but that doesn’t really work for us so there are four songwriters in the band.

That’s cool, there aren’t very many bands that do that. Look at the Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corrigan wrote every one of those songs and they ended up breaking up because of it.
I think so and even bigger bands like the Beatles. The deal with George Harrison was that he was allowed two songs per album. If you listen to his solo album “All Things Must Pass”, half of those songs were ones he was not allowed to put on any of the Beatles albums.


Ikara Colt

Is it safe to say that you are obsessed with land and cities with songs like “Belgravia”, “City Of Glass” and “At The Lodge”? It sounds like you focus on people and their dispositions in life.
I think so, I actually agree with that. I always like a song to be a story as if you’re saying something. It also helps if you feel that the person has actually been there and understands what he’s talking about. That’s why I’d never write about something I didn’t understand. You know, I’m not going to write about being in a work camp in Siberia because I’ve never done that and I think if you have done that and write about it you’ve got far more weight behind you for people to relate to.

What do you think about Madonna rapping now?
It makes me cringe. I love Public Enemy, they’re one of my favorite bands, but I’d never rap, it would be embarrassing.

It would probably be pretty funny.
Yeah funny for you. It’s a difficult one though, you also have to go back to the Pearl Jam thing about how fucked up he was. It’s like, what’s really wrong with you, you’re girlfriend left you, shut up.

Look at The Strokes, when they first broke everyone thought they were from England and then we come to find out they’re from New York and the lead singer’s dad is a freaking millionaire who’s funding their band.
The thing is though that The Strokes do actually write good songs and Julian has a very good melancholy voice.

Do you know when the “Basic Instructions” ep (on Epitaph) will hit the streets in America?
I don’t know the exact day, but I think it’s in June.

How is it working with Epitaph?
It’s cool, they don’t fuck around with us. We went to them with the single and we were happy with that. They only work with bands that are independently minded because they are an independently minded label. That’s why we work with them because didn’t want to be told what to do and we have 100% creative control and 100% creative control of our art work and videos and stuff so we’re fine and that’s the only way we want to do it.

If someone from a record label were to ask you to change your sound to reach a larger audience you’d tell them to kick rocks?
I’d tell them to piss off. No, it’s not what we’re into; it’s not what we’re doing it for. If it happens it happens and we would have done it our way which would make me far more satisfied than to have done it some company wanker way.

Are you only doing the band now (full support from the band)?
Just doing the band.

That’s pretty sweet. So you just wake up and do whatever you want. I had to take a sick day just to talk to you. I have a sinus headache.
I’ll tell you the best excuse; tell them you’ve hurt your knob or something. Then they’re too fucking embarrassed to ask you about it. It’s fantastic.

What if they ask if you were whacking it?
They’ve never actually asked that before. Just say you’ve slipped down the stairs and hit it…

Or one of your boys isn’t feeling right?
Just say you twisted them or something.

It’s cool you guys are doing it independently though (back to the band).
As long as no one gets in our way or tells us what to do I’ll be happy.

I think people really identify with that methodology. For the last 20 years people forgot about that kind of stuff.
Bands should call the shots more, that’s what it’s about.

There’s definitely a move away from the major label kind of thing.
Yeah, even bands on a major can do a bit more. Most record companies prey on people’s vanity and make them think they’re going to become a star and people are seduced by that. If bands get screwed then it was their own vanity that screwed them. The label says ‘we’re going to give you a limo to pick you up in front of your very expensive hotel’ and what the band doesn’t fucking realize is that they’re paying for that Fucking hotel and limo.

They just sign the dotted line and don’t read between the lines.
Exactly, always read between the lines. God, I sound like a cynical Englishman.

No, that methodology is definitely true. You have to always take what people tell you with a grain of salt.
There’s a lot of bullshit, you’ve definitely got to keep your eyes open.

What’s going on in England these days?
It’s raining, it rains here a lot. Have you ever been to Seattle? It reminds me of England.

While we’re on the subject of America how was the first American tour?
Well, we were supporting a Sweetish band Sahara Hotnote and there was another band from Florida called the Washdown. Washdown is on Lookout! and are a really good band.

What do you think about American food?
What do you do to it? When we tour around Brittan we kind of eat sandwiches and they’re quite normal, but over there they’re crazy. I don’t know what you do to your meat. Oh, I found out something really horrible about McDonalds, you know why they put girkins…

(interjecting) Wait, what the hell is a girkin?
Those little green things, I think you call them pickles. You know I made my first mistake in New York when I said I’m just going out to get some fags.

(Laughing) You don’t say that in New York…
Anyways, a McDonald’s hamburger has so much sugar in it that without the pickle it would be classified as confectionery (candy) because there is so much sugar in the actual burger.

No way, that’s why those are in there. I just thought they were being nice. Sick shit, it’s all to make a dollar. What do you think of the Osbornes?
It’s sort of weird; I grew up in a town about forty minutes from where Black Sabbath is from. That’s where he got the Birmingham accent.

Yeah, he kind of stammers or stutters. He says the way he talks is because of where he’s from.
Well he’s bloody lying, it’s the amount of drugs he’s taken. He was damn good in Black Sabbath. He’s old and washed up, but at least he’s got a living out of it. He came from nothing and he made something.

So plans for the future, you guys have a lot lined up?
Well, it’s festival time over here so we’re off to Barcelona tomorrow.

I heard you had some trouble at a festival in Italy. Some brawl or something.
Oh no, that was in England, we just had a stage invasion and a few things got damaged. No one got hurt. The only thing that got hurt was our bank account because of all the damaged equipment, ouch.

Damn, you have to pay for everything when something like that happens, that fucking sucks. Lots of stage diving though?
Yeah, quite a lot, it reminded me of a title wave crashing over the barriers.

Well “Chat and Business” is a great record and I can’t wait to see the band next time around.
Thank you. Just remember, you’re never as bad as they say and you’re never as good as they say and if you remember that, you’re all right.