Fresh off a three-continent stint, Bloc Party is about to embark on its ninth U.S. tour, this time with Deerhoof and Smoosh as support. We shot drummer Matt Tong an e-mail from sunny Atlanta with some mild trepidation that we’d bring to mind some bad memories. After all, his lung collapsed here last November, and the band had to cut its winter tour short.
Since then, Bloc Party has played LiveEarth and several fests in London—including the Reading Festival—in support of the February release A Weekend in the City. The band kicks off its next series of U.S dates tomorrow in Chicago (see below).
Paste: You've recently hit Spain, Japan and Australia. What are the band's sentiments of the tour so far?
Matt Tong: We've always considered ourselves very fortunate to have such a far-reaching appeal. The travel never gets boring and if you're smart, you can always find things to do on tour to keep your mind active.
Paste: It's been about nine months since your lung collapsed. How are you feeling these days?
MT: Not bad. I was so wasted at the time due to your liberal doses of morphine that it feels like it happened in a different lifetime. I've never enjoyed the Tyra Banks show so much, or been so itchy upon leaving a hospital. I'm not allowed to scuba dive so you're not gonna see me under the sea any time soon, but I'm still rocking out, so I can't complain.
Paste: What's been your favorite crowd yet?
MT:: Honestly, people have been very warm everywhere this year, though I must say, we were all really surprised with the response we got when we played in Australia and New Zealand this summer.
Paste: Does the Reading Festival have a U.S. equivalent?
MT: No. Hmm, unless you guys have a festival where people throw chairs at you if your band is somewhat incongruous with the rest of the bill.
Paste: Who did you look forward to seeing the most at the festival?
MT: !!!, because they are a consistently quality group.
Paste: You're residing in Berlin and your bandmates are in London. What kind of effect is it having on the band?
MT:I don't get it really. Berlin's only an hour away from London on the plane. No one seems to think it's funny that Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) lives in L.A. and the rest of her band are in N.Y. Last time I checked, that was a five-hour flight. And three different time zones. I moved with the proviso that I would still be where I have to be regarding band arrangements. It's no skin off my back to come back to London to rehearse. Man, if the Tube's so crap that if breaks down en route to the practise room it takes just as long as if I was in a different country!
Paste: What did you do during your short break before your Chicago date tomorrow?
MT: A bit of recording. We're having a go at a new track, which we're sort of writing as I speak. I can't offer anything other than that--it's a secret. Also, we're still writing it.
Paste: Got any tricks up your sleeve for your new material?
MT: Tricks? I hope so. I think our new stuff is going to be a lot less textured than the last record. I think the third studio incarnation of Bloc is going to be a bit like the rawer earlier Bloc, but with experience.
Paste: Since this is your ninth U.S. tour, are you looking forward to anything in particular in America? Any time I travel to London, I bring home suitcases of Walkers Crisps.
MT: Walkers?! They're so dirty! I tell you, back in my day, Smiths Crisps used to rule the roost. I tend not to bring home too many trinkets from tour these days, luggage allowances are a killer. I like being in America, but I can't really single out a particular reason why, I just have a nice time there. People are generally way more positive than the English. Actually, I'm looking forward to catching the start of the NFL season.
Paste: Did you have any hand in picking Smoosh and Deerhoof for the U.S. tour?
MT: Yes, we normally make suggestions about support bands. Smoosh did half of our first US tour this year and were an absolute joy to play with. Those young ladies are really, really gifted and have this knack for writing incredible bittersweet pop songs. They had a new song called "Promises" that they were playing on tour with us and it was making everybody cry. Asy's like a young Brian Wilson or something, though I sincerely hope she doesn't go nuts and Chloe is doing stuff on the drums at the age of 13 that I clearly can't do now. Deerhoof are a band I've been dying to see for ages. I got turned on to them relatively late, but I think they're excellent. I can't wait to see them play.
Neither can we:
7 - Chicago, Ill. @ The Hideout
9 - Montreal, Quebec @ Osheaga Festival
11 - Milwaukee, Wisc. @ Pabst Theatre
12 - Indianapolis, Ind. @ Egyptian Room
13 - Columbus, Ohio @ Promo West Pavilion
14 - St. Louis, Mo. @ The Pageant
16 - Austin, Texas @ ACL Festival
19 - Mexico City @ National Auditorium
21 - Houston, Texas @ Warehouse Live
22 - Dallas, Texas @ House of Blues
23 - Tulsa, Okla. @ Cain's Ballroom
25 - Nashville, Tenn. @ City Hall
26 - Covington, Ky. @ Madison Theatre
28 - Toronto, Ontario @ Ricoh Coliseum
29 - London, Ontario @ John Labatt Center
30 - Ottawa, Ontario @ Capitol Music Hall
2 - Providence, R.I. @ Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
3 - New York, N.Y. @ Madison Square Garden
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Rip it up and start again: Bloc Party’s grand return
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