INTERVIEW

Finally! A band from Leicester that you can treasure

Photography by Tim Cochrane

Finally! A band from Leicester that you can treasure

There’s something hanging over Leicester’s Tired Irie. Actually, ditch that, there’s two things hanging over Tired Irie. The first is an East London school-dodging oik asking “if you’re in a famous band, mister” and doing his best to infiltrate L&Q’s photo shoot by climbing over a nearby garage like a snotty Spiderman. The second are ex-Try Harder label mates Foals‚”

Ever since their inception in 2004 the foursome (previously a fivesome) have been dogged by comparisons to Oxford’s finest algebra-poppers. It’s a particularly weird ghost to be haunted by, since the truth is, they were there first. In fact, Foals’ first gig was supporting Irie at London’s Madam JoJo’s.

“We started by doing this thing called Wolfparty and we got Foals, Blood Red Shoes and Youthmovies down to play in the early days,” says TI guitarist Ian, sat outside Hoxton’s Bar And Grill, amongst a gaggle of chatter with band mates Bob (drums), Mark (guitar/vocals) and Simon (synths/vocals) who sports an afro most American basketball players would be proud of. “Leicester’s really weird, it’s really hard to get people down to gigs so we had to put on a massive thing when we started – we would hand out animal masks for everybody and have a big party in this backroom.”

Since initially coming up with the name (Ian: “it was written on a friend’s wall in shaving foam at a hosue party. It means going to sleep happy”) and organising carnal parties with punters disguised as bears and tigers, all frugging in a grotty Midlands pub, things have come a long way. Uber-indie Oxford label Try Harder (run by Youthmovies’ Al English and first home for Foals, Blood Red Shoes, Jonquil) was practically invented with TI in mind – the inspiration for that pedigree stable.

However, it’s only really now that TI are coming into their own and stepping out of the shadows of their peers (they completed university last summer. “Now we can concentrate on the band” – Simon). Last autumn’s stellar ‘Sumerian’ EP was a space-pop stormer, part Supersystem, part bio-cadets ordered by David Bowie to invent Martian rock music. It isn’t just music to booty-shake to though. Closer ‘Skiptech’ includes worrying chants like “fumigate the chamber” a line which we were convinced was more sinister than “just having a bad time in a club”.

“You get to these places and you think why do I feel so outside compared to everyone else?” explains principal lyricist Mark, “its no more complicated.”

The four self-anointed “hermits” have been working on new material since, finishing their day-jobs in Zavvi or testing urine in the local hospital’s lab before heading into the studio on a daily basis to experiment the night away. The neatly packaged product of which is new single ‘Hexagon’. Mark coyly explains: “the song is kind of about a kid’s fantasy, when you’re trying to get to sleep the things you think about. It could be ghosts, aliens or whatever. I see shapes when I’m trying to get to sleep.”

No conventional sheep for Tired Irie then. We shouldn’t be surprised though, compared to your normal pop band, and Foals especially, they’re a different type of animal.

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Originally published in issue 1 (vol. 2) of Loud And Quiet. May 2008

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