When you fall in love with a band, you instantly become part of a community. Every comment on a social post feels like a chat with a familiar friend and every live gig feels like a bonding opportunity. Fans of IDLES know this better than most with the AF GANG, the 30 thousand strong IDLES community. Ahead of the release of their new album, Ultra Mono, we chatted to frontman Joe Talbot and Brian, an admin for the AF GANG Facebook group about mental health, the power of community, and how IDLES has saved their lives.
IDLES’ music and live gigs have been a uniting force for its fans since 2009. The band embodies community, and Joe thinks this ethos is brought to the forefront because of the way the band was formed.
“I was always a really troubled young man. There was the combination of my mum having a stroke, being severely ill and then dying, my step dad dying, and me being at university which culminated in me feeling like everything was being done to me and I was self-pitying and addicted to drugs and alcohols as a numbing agent,” he says. “The only reason I was allowed to change is because my friends and family allowed me to change. It was the learning process I went through that led me to put that into lyrics. The band saved my life and I knew then that because I was saved by the band that I could put that in my music as a form of commitment in therapy.”
In fact, although he had his family and his mates who he could turn to during difficult times, Joe went through a long period of feeling alone, and so he wants his lyrics to be a sounding board for people who feel isolated in their own feelings: “In therapy, there were times when I would say things out loud and realise that I had been thinking about them for 20 years and had never said it. And saying it was a weight lifted off my shoulders and so hopefully my lyrics might give that to someone else.”