It's been four years since Bloc Party's last album, Intimacy, came out. In that time, the band's lead singer Kele Okereke put out a solo album entitled Boxer, while guitarist Russell Lissack and bassist Gordon Moakes focused on their own respective side-projects. This prompted several rumors that Okereke had left the band and that the "hiatus" would be more than temporary.
Obereke, Lissack, Moakes, and drummer Simon Tong quashed those rumors earlier this year and are set to release their fourth album, the aptly-titled Four, on August 20. Whereas other bands might have trouble getting back into the groove after so much time apart, Okereke says they had no problem once they stepped into the studio.
"Once we started playing it all came very quickly and it was all very instinctive how easy it was to write again," Okereke told Spinner backstage at Montreal's Osheaga Festival, several hours before the band's set.
Working with producer Alex Newport, Okereke explains that the album came together very quickly.
"We've never had a problem making an idea come together," says Okereke of his bandmates.
The first single from Four, "Octopus," sees Bloc Party turning the guitars all the way up and it might remind longtime fans of the band's debut album Silent Alarm, but the frontman says that looking backwards wasn't one of their goals.
"I think we were conscious about not trying to borrow anything from the past and make it feel like it was its own thing," he says.
When asked if there were any unlikely musical influences when making the album, the singer pauses for a few minutes before offering a Seattle-spirited answer.
"I was listening to a lot of Nirvana," says Okereke, "I've never been that big a Nirvana fan, but I listened to Bleach a lot when we were making the record. I was really impressed by how raw the whole thing was and how intentionally under-produced it was."
Just don't expect a "Smells Like Teen Spirit" cover being added to the band's live repertoire any time soon.
"I don't think it would be so cool to write songs like Nirvana," says the singer, "I just like the way it sounded, how visceral it sounded. I think when a lot of bands start out they make the mistake of wanting to sound like Nirvana."
No strangers to playing large festivals themselves, Okereke says that between touring and promoting Four, the band doesn't exactly get a lot of free time to play tourists or take in other acts' performances. Not that he's terribly bothered by the latter though.
"When it's festival season, you pretty much see the same bands," he admits, "I've seen The Cure play about three times this summer because they did a bunch of festivals in Europe, and I love The Cure, but a lot of the bands that are playing today [at Osheaga] are playing Lollapalooza, too."
Going to work with the same acts day-in, day-out isn't all bad, though.
"I look forward to being outdoors and the weather being nice."