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Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008
Bloc Party singer not 'content'

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

bloc party
Kele Okereke says he's already thinking about the band's fourth record

Saturday 23 August 2008: what could be construed as a pivotal moment in the history of Bloc Party.

Their appearance on the main stage at Reading Festival - the mood a mixture of triumph, celebration and defiance - came three days after the startling digital release of their third album Intimacy.

Looking back, that show was the centre point of what had been an undulating year for the band which saw them unveil the digital release of their new album.

It was a move some saw as backfiring, others as ingenious.

Add to that the arrival of children [bassist Gordon Moakes had his first daughter], side projects [guitarist Russell Lissak flirted with electro group Pin Me Down] and an altercation with the Sex Pistols' John Lydon at a Spanish festival - and it's been an eventful 2008.

"It's weird - the year has gone really quickly," says Kele, today slumping into his sofa at home struggling to fend off a cold. "We started writing the record now it's already out - it's been a busy year for us..."

'Something different'

Months before Reading, as the band walked offstage at this year's NME Big Gig at London's 02 Arena in February it seemed like that would be the last we'd see of them for some time.

Yet, after secret new year recording sessions, they were already busy plotting the follow up to 2007's second album A Weekend In The City.

"Rather than do it [the recording] in three months we did it in two weeks," Kele explains about the evolution of the LP. "We wanted to do something a bit different this time around to get the record to the fans quicker - we knew before we recorded it that it was going to be an unconventional release."

I've never really felt any sense of satisfaction whilst we've been in Bloc Party
Kele Okereke, Bloc Party

Untypical it very much was - following Radiohead's precedent for releasing their record digitally before in a physical format, and making it available in the middle of the summer festival season [21 August].

"Every year that we've done this has been different to the year before," sniffs Kele.

"That's just part of being in this band, you have to embrace these new experiences. It'd be frightening if every day wasn't different - that's the best thing about it."

The record's arrival was an unexpected bombshell which took fans and the industry alike by surprise was still deemed a success by the group.

"It was nice, because we got it directly to the fans and they seemed to really like it and that's what really counts for us," he says. "I definitely am pleased with how we released it."

"You're always trying to strike a balance between what is commercially viable and what you might want as an artist." Kele pauses. "Things that you want to do and things that you have to do.

"I don't know how we're going to release the next record," he admits. "It might feel quite regressive to go back to a conventional release.

"I've had a chance to think about new music - I'm always thinking about songs."

'No patience'

However, what followed Intimacy was more conventional: a bout of intensive international touring.

"With our previous releases with Silent Alarm and A Weekend In The City by this point into the campaign I'd already started to hate the music," he admits. "Where as this time round I don't hate the music - we did something right."

All which has meant Kele and co. have had little time to think about any music outside of their own this year.

bloc party
Bloc Party will embark on a UK tour in January 2009

"I don't listen to albums much any more - I don't sit down and listen to records as much as I used to," he says.

"It's patience - it just wears thin. I just have no patience," he admits. "The way that I listen to music now because of what we do it's very critical - I listen to something obsessively for like a week and then I never listen to it ever again."

"That's why singles are good because there's no context it's just a song."

Changing situation

This of course, is a very different band from the gang of fresh faced boys larking around the east end of London in 2004.

Kele remains the last member left in the city - the others living miles apart - a situation Kele describes as "fine."

"You spend so much time with each other - you need other people in your life. I don't think that it's a bad thing that when you come off tour you don't see each other."

"It's healthy to have some time apart - to have a life outside of what it is we do."

While it seems Bloc Party are constantly exploring new directions for releasing their music, one thing they're not seeking to change is the live show.

"As a live band we're quite successful," he says looking forward to their UK tour dates in the new year. "I don't really want to mess or interfere with how we perform as a band.

"It's incredibly rewarding - the sensations that we get when we play live, I don't want to manipulate or obscure that.

"I don't really think about doing some kind of Zooropa [U2's famously decedent tour] change - the energy that we produce live is very instinctive and primal so I don't really want to think too much about altering the chemistry."

To This Point

Four years down the line then, with arena tours, digital albums and creative freedom - you'd imagine Kele couldn't be happier.

"I guess I think my problem is that generally as a person I don't…there's always some other mountain to climb once you've done something," he says.

I've always had a drive and a hunger that has maybe stopped me appreciating what we've achieved
Kele Okereke, Bloc Party

"I've never really felt any sense of satisfaction whilst we've been in Bloc Party.

"I've always had a drive and a hunger that has maybe stopped me appreciating what we've achieved.

"I don't think I'll ever be content whilst I'm in Bloc Party because there will always be something else to do - some other goals to achieve.

"I know that when we stop doing this that's probably when - I mean that's probably going to be too late - but that's when I'll feel a sense of pride about what we've achieved but right now I'm just fighting the good fight.

"We've got more records to make, so that's what I'm thinking about."



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