The BBC Electric Proms, now in its second year, gives bands and artists the chance to reinvent themselves to make a “new music moment” through collaboration, or doing something unexpected.
It can also showcase new bands on the same bill as established stars. In such a set-up, Cold War Kids support the Kaiser Chiefs (via David Arnold) at the headline Roundhouse.
As to what will make their performance that little bit unusual, lead singer Nathan Willett is giving little away. “We have a lot of possibilities,” he says with a cheeky chuckle. “We’re working on having a special guest, so we’ll see what happens. Obviously I can’t tell you anything.” Despite much probing for even the slightest clue, Willett refuses to back down. All eyes will be on the Roundhouse Main Area on Friday then.
It has been a promising year for the band following the release of their debut album Robbers And Cowards which has sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide since its release in October of last year.
A little storage room in an apartment tucked away in the Los Angeles suburbs was where it all began. They set out to create bliss inducing super mellow rock, with innovating songs such as Hang Me Out To Dry. A shooting shimmering riff carries a dazed rambling rant, assumingly about some strange emotion called love.
The bubbles of the catalyst have been steadily spitting and sizzling, with recent performances on Later with Jools Holland and an appearance at Glastonbury in June. After the BBC Electrical Proms, the Cold War Kids will tour the UK and Willett is looking forward to the prospect.
“It’s our sixth time over in the UK and for a band that has just one record, we’re insanely lucky that it’s sold so well. We’re pretty honoured to have sold out (the) Shepherd’s Bush (Empire). It’s awesome.”
Ironically, England have just lost to Russia in a crucial European Championship match. As we find ourselves shivering and scribbling notes in a cold, deserted Sheffield beer garden. The lead singer, meanwhile, is thousands of miles away in his home of California ahead of a busy schedule. The Cold War Kids should’ve been on the White Stripes tour, but the dates were cancelled due to Meg White suffering from acute anxiety. But the break seems to have worked out well for the band.
“It’s given us the chance to write and just chill out, it’s been really good. We’re looking at different producers right now and hopefully we can start recording in the New Year and get a new album out next summer.”
Earlier this year, the Cold War Kids appeared on the tribute album to Radiohead‘s OK Computer, OKX, with their cover of Electioneering. The Californians have been inspired by Radiohead, as they aim to create similar lyrical “bursts of concrete energy.” In a week that the Oxford band released their new album In Rainbows online, Willett thinks that the move could affect the future of record sales.
“I think it’s an amazing thing for the artist to be ahead of the label. It takes the bigger bands like Radiohead to make changes and eventually I think the whole form will shift that way. It’s an exciting time.”
The band are not short on opinion in general, as keen backers of organic farming does this affect the work the band produce? “I guess in a way it does, we are resourceful people, we’re responsible people and have a general awareness of what’s going on in the world.”
As they guzzle petrol and release fumes from their tour bus, they will be well aware then that they are on the verge of something pretty special. The Roundhouse looks set to be merely the start.