Acclaimed indie band Wild Beasts say their first show here on Saturday is 'essential'

Wild Beasts comprise (from left) Tom Fleming, Hayden Thorpe, Ben Little and Chris Talbot. -- PHOTO: KLAUS THYMANN
Wild Beasts comprise (from left) Tom Fleming, Hayden Thorpe, Ben Little and Chris Talbot. -- PHOTO: KLAUS THYMANN

The indie band, who are playing their first gig in Singapore on Saturday, take pride in their "bizarre" pop music

English indie band Wild Beasts have been playing for a dozen years now but it was only recently that frontman Hayden Thorpe came to terms with his role as a showman.

In an interview ahead of the band's first gig in Singapore at Beep Studios on Saturday, he says he is "not a natural performer".

"I didn't get into the business to perform in front of people. I'm in it because I love creating songs, making songs and investing in something like that," he says over the telephone from London.

"Four albums in, I've learnt a lot and more about myself. I'm more comfortable in my own skin, which allows me to fit in more comfortably among people."

The band's recordings and live shows have consistently impressed critics. Their second album, Two Dancers, was praised by the music press as one of the best releases of 2009 and earned them a Mercury Prize nomination; and a recent gig in Manchester was hailed as "one of British pop's most refreshing triumphs" by English newspaper The Guardian.

Present Tense, their latest release, is acknowledged as another stunner, with NME magazine describing it as music that "roams a landscape which couldn't have been charted by anyone else". PopMatters website calls it "one of the most quietly exhilarating albums in recent memory".

Thorpe says he is just excited that their music is being heard around the world and is looking forward to playing multiple venues in Asia for the first time in their current tour. Besides Singapore, they will also play in Malaysia, Vietnam and China. The only Asian country the band have played in is Japan.

He says: "What we do isn't meat and vegetable rock 'n roll, we're not established but I think we make pop music still bizarre. It's remarkable that our music has travelled far."

While he comes up with song ideas on his iPad - "I find it revolutionary as a writing tool" - Thorpe says the band's tunes are a collective effort between himself and the rest of the band - co-founder and guitarist Ben Little, drummer Chris Talbot and singer, bassist and guitarist Tom Fleming.

"We really pride ourselves in being collective musicians playing together. A band is an old- fashioned concept now, a defunct concept. Bands are expensive, chaotic, noisy, bad neighbours and I think labels nowadays find it much easier to sign one guy and make a band around him.

"We're childhood friends and we pride ourselves as a group of people and we thrive on having that level of understanding."

Those who turn up at their show on Saturday can expect to see them put on their best, as Thorpe adds that "no gig is not essential, every gig has to be life-affirming".

He says: "We are always reminding ourselves that it's not a normal job that we are doing, where you just coast along, aim for the promotion and sit tight for a few years.

"It's the kind of job where you have to, on a daily basis, work to put your best across. For every album, we have to remind ourselves that we are very lucky to be making this record and we have a responsibility to do something ambitious and have ourselves invested in it."

dinohadi@sph.com.sg