Island of Love Unveil the Inspiration Behind Every Track on Their Self-Titled Debut

Music Features Island of Love
Island of Love Unveil the Inspiration Behind Every Track on Their Self-Titled Debut

One of the most-ambitious and electrifying rock trios working out of the UK right now, Island of Love’s self-titled debut arrived last Friday and we can’t stop listening to it over here at Paste. Karim Newble, Linus Munch and Daniel Giraldo have harnessed something masterful on Island of Love, a stroke of brilliance from a band just now getting their feet wet. Since performing at the grand opening of Third Man Records’ Blue Basement two years ago, the trio received an on-the-spot roster invitation from Jack White’s beloved label and has even toured with the ex-White Stripes frontman.

Island of Love is massive, exhilarating and indebted to a menagerie of influences. From Black Sabbath to the Rolling Stones to George Lucas’ breakthrough 1973 film American Graffiti, Newble, Munch and Giraldo are not afraid to pull from whatever reference point they need to. Couple that with a longtime affection for the London hardcore punk, DIY scene they came up in, and you’ve got something wholly unparalleled. Island of Love was produced by Fuzzbrain’s Ben Spence and engineered by Jack Shirley, who’s worked with Deafheaven and Joyce Manor.

From the cataclysmic glam rock of opener “Big Whale” to the eight-minute, shape-shifting revelation of “It Was All Ok Forever,” Island of Love never spend too long in any given box, making their debut one for the ages. Newble and Munch sat down with us to talk about what inspired every track. Stream the record as you read along, and ensconce yourself in the magic of Island of Love below.

“Big Whale”
Karim Newble: A lot of this song was built off of riffs I’d written to sound like milk music. The subject matter stands as a continuation of a lot of the themes from our last couple of EPs, but this time under the idea of coming to terms with being loved by someone. The second half was originally another song that spawned out of some duster-esque demos I’d written before the band.

“Fed Rock”
Linus Munch: “Fed Rock” was written about some of the less good bands we were seeing around when we were playing our first shows outside the scene that formed us. Our set was still full of these stoner-fuzz jams like Tall Boots and Head Case and we wanted to stand out more from the indie we were now finding ourselves placed next to. Bands like Thin Lizzy and Ramones have always been band favourites and this was the first effort by all of us to use them as influences.

“Grow/Blues 2000”
Newble: “Grow” was written by me and Linus at my mum’s in 2020. It was the first song we’d ever written together and was released on our GarageBand promo tape. Since then it’s been a favorite to play as a band, and we feel since playing it together it’s taken on a new life. “Blues 2000” is an instrumental born out of Natasha Bedingfield’s “These Words” and the Eastenders drum fill, turned into a sludgefeast.”

“Sweet Loaf”
Munch: For me, this was the easiest song on the album to record. Everything was done in one or two takes and it’s a very rare example of a song that, recorded, sounds pretty much exactly how it did in my head when I wrote it. A bittersweet love song and one of those that practically writes itself: I had the lyric “When I first met you I didn’t realise/Sweet leaf I love you but sweet loaf am I” and everything else fell into place. The song is an homage/response to “Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath.

“I’ve Got the Secret”
Newble: “I’ve Got the Secret” is a song about getting a text from your ex. It’s probably our most show-offy song, and became a really good way of coping with a breakup. Nothing cheers you up more than harmonising on the word “bloke” and playing a 3 second D-beat section.

“Losing Streak”
Munch: The title “Losing Streak” is a reference to “Satisfaction” by the [Rolling] Stones. Lyrically the two songs are similar and “Losing Streak” owes a lot to the Stones in general, perhaps a little too much. Lawsuit impending?

“Weekend at Clive’s”
Newble: Originally written with lyrics, this stood as a homage to a lot of roots country and folk guitar music I’d been rotating heavily. Clive is the name of my dad and the original lyrical content was to do with me and my brother spending weekends at his as kids, for us that was some of the first times we’d ever been left without supervision. I’d originally written it about a lot of the things we’d get up to while he was out of the house, but thought compositionally it worked better without the lyrics.

Newble: Named after my grandad Charlie, this song is about the pressure of filling your relatives’ shoes. It was one of the few songs me and Linus had written completely together on the album, and I remember once we finished it, playing it to all my housemates with him. It’s the only song Dan has a bass solo in (currently) as well, haha.

“Never Understand”
Newble: By far the angstiest song on the album, “Never Understand” pays homage to my personal influences probably more than any other. I tried my hardest to make it a sludgefeast of dirgy guitar riffs and feedback, and originally wrote a set of lyrics at a pretty tough time in my life that I later decided to scrap. It took something like five revisions before I was happy with what I was singing, but the melodies always remained the same. I think this one evolved the most over time through playing it together compared to the rest of the songs as well.

“It Was All Ok Forever”
Newble: This song stands as an affirmation for me that no matter how much you overthink friendships, relationships and life as a whole; things have a way of working out. It’s one of my proudest guitar arrangements, and is probably the most carried away as a band we get with rocking out on this album (which says a lot). Every time I hear Linus’ guitar solos on this I make the same face I made when I heard Nevermind and [Weezer’s] blue album for the first time. It was always gonna be the last song on the album, and a great excuse to use the word “bellend” in a ballad.

“Island of Love”
Munch: “Island of Love,” always intended [to be] the album’s opener, is one of the oldest songs on the record. It was written in the summer of 2020, when long, warm, hazy days were mostly spent alone watching American Graffiti and drowning myself in its soundtrack, alongside albums by the Strokes and the San Francisco band Girls. The song still takes me right back to the time. Warm, slow, lonely and aimless.”

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