IDLES’ Joe Talbot: The 10 songs that changed my life

IDLES frontman Joe Talbot shares his love of Otis Redding, The Walkmen and much more.

IDLES’ Joe Talbot: The 10 songs that changed my life
Jenn Five

Spot evil, change the world, mend a broken heart – get the knowledge with the soundtrack to IDLES vocalist Joe Talbot's key life moments to date…

The first song that I remember hearing...

Otis Redding – (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay (1968)

“My mum was doing housework, and I was sat on our dining room table. I was spinning around on it and listening to this, and it was magic. His voice is the closest thing to God I think I’ll ever hear. He actually uses a part of the throat that you tense when you’re trying not to cry and talk at the same time. It’s a technique which evokes audience tears too; it’s an empathetic thing. He was an earnest, beautiful soul who worked hard in a short space of time.”

The first song I ever fell in love with...

Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1968)

“Everyone loves Marvin Gaye, and if you don’t, you’re evil. I was really young when I heard this song, maybe five or six. I fell in love with the bass line especially. It got stuck in my subconscious, and I still fucking love it. The bass is the most important, most primal thing. You don’t need singers and guitarists wanking everywhere, trying to peacock everything.”

The song that reminds me of my teens...

The Pharcyde – Runnin' (1995)

“I got The Pharcyde’s [1995 album] Labcabincalifornia on CD, but my mum had to buy it for me because it had a ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker on it. It was the first album I discovered where it felt like no-one else in the world knew who the band were. It felt like a special thing that I’d found myself. I would listen to this song on my headphones all the time in school. I enjoyed isolation when I had music.”

The song that picks me up when I'm down...

The Walkmen – The Rat (2004)

“I first heard it when a girlfriend dumped me on the last day of the first year of uni. My mate gave me their [2004] album Bows + Arrows and said, ’You have to listen to this.’ By the time I got to the second track, I was like, ‘Fuck everything else, life is amazing.’ You’ve got to pick yourself up, love yourself and stop being a dick to change the world. The energy in that song, the pain and the vigour that encapsulates being fucking trampled on and getting back up is magic. It changed me forever.”

The song that inspired me to be in a band...

Jakobínarína – His Lyrics Are Disastrous (2006)

“I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a singer and change the world with my vocals. I knew I wanted to make music, but I couldn’t play an instrument. But about the time this song came out, there was lots of good music around, and I was fucking itching to be in a band. I wanted to cut through the bullshit and start a band myself. I wasn’t interested in waiting around anymore. I wanted to get out there and do it myself.”

The IDLES song that makes me feel proud...

IDLES – June (2018)

“Pride is a weird emotion, but I’m happiest with June. It was something I needed to do [the song is about Joe’s daughter who was stillborn]. It was hard, because I thought people would judge me. My partner encouraged me to feel safe and do it. I feel like I’ve done something worthy in my career; it felt like I did something right.”

My favourite song to perform live...

IDLES – 1049 Gotho (2017)

“This means a lot to me lyrically, and the music is, in my opinion, perfect for its sentiment. I always get a surge of emotion when I play it. It feels like a downward-spiralling victory march. I don’t know why, but it feels beautiful when we play it live.”

The first IDLES song I heard on the radio...

IDLES – Well Done (2017)

“I always feel so happy when I hear one of our songs on the radio, because it means we’re being supported, but I couldn’t listen to it. I have this surge of, like, joy, and then I’ll be like, ‘That’s enough of that shit!’ But it’s a beautiful feeling, don’t get me wrong – I just don’t want to listen to our own stuff, there’s no need.”

The song that always makes me cry...

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Into My Arms (1997)

“When a figure such as Nick Cave – a father figure, someone who seems unbreakable and strong – becomes vulnerable and opens up, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s one of the most perfect songs ever written; it’s so tender. I love it, and I love him. It reminds me of my partner, and she always makes me cry.”

The song I'd like played at my funeral...

The Walkmen – The Rat (2004)

“I have to pick this again. I’d like to be remembered as someone who was defiant, strong, loving and compassionate, and I think The Rat encapsulates all those things. It’s what I play every time I DJ. It’s what I want to hear every time I go out, and it’s what I want all my friends to sing when I die.”

IDLES' new album Ultra Mono is out September 25 via Partisan.

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