A chip off the old Bloc


Popularity is not an issue for Gordon Moakes or Matt Tong. As one half of Bloc Party, one of the most widely sought-after bands in the world, these two play their fair share of shows, both near and far.

Bloc Party performing at the Kool Haus in March as part of Canadian Music Week (photo/Matthew Stollmeyer).
Bloc Party performing at the Kool Haus in March as part of Canadian Music Week (photo/Matthew Stollmeyer).

Whats that?

Canadian Music Week. You are headlining Canadian Music Week. I hand Tong, the bands drummer, the festival guide which features a large scale photo of their band on the front cover.

We didnt even know there was a Canadian Music Week, but thats amazing, replies a bemused Moakes while Tong flips through the handout, pointing out the Bloc Party spread a few pages in.

Not surprisingly, the two are a bit disoriented, having just completed a European tour and are currently in the process of starting on a new North American circuit. Next month theyre off to Asia before returning home to England to play a few festivals in the summertime. All of this in wake of Intimacy, the bands third record, which was released worldwide in August last year.

Dense with Bloc Partys unique arrangements — both electronic and vocal — Intimacy retains the same fast paced quality Bloc Party fans are accustomed to while adding a level of maturity previously unheard in BP records. Though it can be argued that the quality of song is not quite at the same level as it was on Silent Alarm and, to a lesser extent, A Weekend in the City, Intimacy is as captivating as is it encompassing, smothering the listener from the first track on.

The one thing about this record is the immediacy to it, explains bassist Moakes. Whether youre into rock music or electronic music, thats where it wins. You put it on and its just an onslaught of things. Its punchy.

The same can be said about Bloc Partys live shows. The sharp music is matched by the impressive light show and disjointed electronic elements, turning the concert into rave, replete with drunken and sexually charged teens that are often willing to get down.

The last time Bloc Party played in Toronto was in September, hot on the heels of their record release, at the now-infamous 2008 edition of V-Fest. Tong candidly recalls; I remember watching the Foo Fighters. They headlined our day, and it was slightly nonsensical.

Moakes and Tong vogue for the camera (photo/Matthew Filipowich).
Moakes and Tong vogue for the camera (photo/Matthew Filipowich).

When asked to clarify, Tong continued. [Dave Grohl] just shouts crap from the stage. He got confused at one point cause he was like um fuck yeah, lets fucking do this and then he was like Im gonna fuck you all in the ass. He was just shouting all kinds of strange things.

In all fairness, Grohl was probably high on PCP, but that makes no difference. I kind of go through bouts thinking Dave Grohl is really great or thinking hes just a bit of a tosser. That was definitely one of the tosser days, justifies Moakes.

That being said, the band does recognize that, while the Foo Fighters had a breakout year, the rest of the music industry has changed drastically. Even from our second record to where we are now, so much is different, says Tong. The decline in music sales coupled with the oversaturation of bands through the internet has led to an industry revolution, where bands are focused more on touring. We dont make any money off record sales. Thats why we tour.

Regardless, it seems that Bloc Party is more popular than ever, staging back to back sold-out shows at the Kool Haus in March with openers Holy Fuck and We Are Wolves.

Whats next for the group?

The greatest accomplishment we could ever manage is to at least be confident that its the best job we did at the time. Theres nothing worse than watching bands get old doing the same things over and over again, answers Tong.

The two look at each other, smile, and pose for a photo.

  • I’m the same guy who commented for the first time at the DUMMY and here I am again.
    Firts of all, I’m deeply touched by the ‘good writing’ of Michael Di Leo. You are very good!
    As for now, all I wanted to say is that Bloc Party is the greatest band at this moment, at this year. They look diferent of the actual bands but so similar to the rock past.
    They don’t need to look the way of the boring people does (Noel, fuck you!). They are smart and knows how to put we Into The Dance!
    We are alive!
    God Bless Bloc Party.