Leeds gig preview: The Imbeciles are not fooling around

Alongside news of their new single ‘Decider’ and self-titled debut album set for release on March 27, The Imbeciles have announced a UK headline tour for April, including a show in Leeds.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 4:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 4:21 pm

The US avant-garde punk band will be bringing their short, sharp songs to the Hyde Park Book Club on Tuesday, April 14.

Buy tickets here - http://www.theimbeciles.com/live/A taster of what to expect comes with 'Decider', an urgent song that's darker than dark and about the ultimate endgame: death.

The inspiration, if you can call it that, for the song comes from the band’s own recent experiences.

The Imbeciles, gigging in Leeds. Picture: Tom Sheehan

“We’ve lost a few people recently that we were close to. It does tend to make you ponder the universe, and whether you get a second act,” says Butch Dante, guitarist and songwriter.

Filmed on location in the Texas panhandle, the video to accompany the single will be the second of a triptych of films written by Butch, focused on the band’s main preoccupation: the fact that the world is ending and people should be kinder to each other while it does.

The Imbeciles have gained strong support on radio from the likes of Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Marc Riley (“We love it! Really, really great.”), Tom Ravenscroft, and Nemone at BBC 6 Music, Benji B at BBC Radio 1, John Kennedy at Radio X, Amazing Radio, Artrocker Radio and the BBC’s Janice Long among others.

They are preparing for the release of their self-titled debut album, 13 imploded songs which rarely last more than two minutes. Recorded on tape in eight deranged days on the Texan-Mexican border, it’s packed with stripped-down musical information and resonant with atmosphere.

Inspired by the likes of Wire, Devo, Gang Of Four, but also unique, The Imbeciles have come up with a new form of avant-garde art punk, against greed and mendacity.

“We’re trying not to adhere to the conventional wisdom of what a band should be, and who should be in it,” Butch believes. “Jads is a jazz-trained drummer who can roll off the beat in a Mitch Mitchell sort of way, the keyboardist comes from classical and jazz, and as the punk anchor with my lack of musical ability, I default to heavy power chords, based around fierce rock riffs.

"Those riffs, a strong drum-beat and aggressive bass are all very commercially viable. We might shift off into a hinterland of jazz-infused prog, but we bring it back. Because we want people to listen.”

The fragments of barked and mutilated lyrics aren’t singer-songwriter straight. But nor are they random. “We want people to think what’s going on is not right,” Butch continues. “That’s the theme of this album. The music sounds angry, but it’s driven by frustration at people being vile to each other, and inequality.

"The kindness that used to be part of our DNA has been expunged. Our leaders are embarrassed by it. But the only thing that will solve the world’s problems is ubiquitous kindness.”

The album, though, avoids lectures. “The band-name’s designed to say we’re as foolish as anyone else.”

Butch is the only English member of an otherwise American band and although he slipped away to California in his twenties for adventures across a vast variety of jobs. England still made him, forging a sense of injustice from observing Yorkshire children scrabbling for raw coal during the 1980s Miners Strike, and making him hurl himself into political and football riots.

“I grew up in South-east London,” Butch recalls. “Going to school on the Ferrier estate, which was really frightening for a seven-year-old. It was incredibly violent in the early 70s, with the National Front, racism and stabbings. Music can be cathartic, expressing anger and frustration: the Bromley punk contingent were nearby, and I used their music and The Clash and Wire like medicine. I’ve since outgrown fear of that sort of violence. That has all influenced where the music has gone.”