Tonight (February 20) at the BRIT Awards, Idles will go toe to toe with Jorja Smith, Ella Mai, Mabel and Tom Walker in the British Breakthrough Act category.
The Bristol band’s nomination came as a surprise to the band, as frontman Joe Talbot recently told Music Week, but their team firmly believe Idles deserve their place at the table on the a glamorous music biz night out.
We spoke to Partisan Records MD Zena White and Mother Artist Management’s Mark Bent alongside Talbot in the new issue of Music Week, out now.
Idles hit the Top 5 with Joy Is An Act Of Resistance last year; the album has 38,728 sales so far. Talbot said that “people celebrating your work is magic, it can only be positive”. Their success is reflected in the nominations for the Music Week Awards 2019, which were revealed earlier this week.
Idles aren’t among the performers scheduled to play on the night, but the singer said they share common ground with the night’s other shortlisted acts because “music is universal” and inclusivity defines Idles’ ethos.
“Allowing us to play would be a disaster, even on Later… With Jools Holland the audience were shocked by our terrible performance, baffled at the idea we were allowed on TV,” Talbot said. “So just imagine us at The BRITs.”
Read on for an exclusive extract from our interview with White and Bent, and stay tuned to musicweek.com throughout the day for the very latest BRITs coverage.
What does it mean for Idles to be recognised by the BRITs?
Mark Bent: “It means that a band like Idles, who don’t fit in to the music industry mould of today, can still be heard and noticed. That if you work hard enough at being the best you can for long enough there will be people who have to acknowledge you. Awards are never a target in anything that they do as a band. Idles are only ever focused on their art, whether it be on stage or writing and recording. To be recognised for working hard is always welcomed."
How can this benefit the band and the campaign?
MB: “The benefit of being shortlisted for this award is not for the benefit of the band, but for the benefit of all bands that are trying to make a living in the music industry. It shows that you don’t have to be an overnight success and you don’t have to have that one hit to be able to have a career.”
Why do you think Idles made the cut for the BRITs this year and why do they deserve to win?
MB: “How could they not make the cut? Getting a Top 5 record in this climate for a band on an independent label delivering music how they do with considerably smaller streaming and social numbers than most of their competitors. For me, they turned the industry on its head in 2018, even if they don’t know it yet. It proves that fans and people power are key, not numbers and algorithms. What’s exciting about having over one million monthly listeners on Spotify when the listeners don’t even know what they are listening to? Music is about how it makes you feel and not numbers, which Idles reminded people of.”
People were shocked that an independent rock band could get a Top 5 album in a world ruled by streaming
Zena White, Partisan Records
Zena White: “Breakthrough implies not only potential, but results from the work put in so far. In terms of traditional measures, is there anything they didn't get on this UK campaign so far? A Top 5 album, memorable Later... With Jools Holland appearance, BBC Radio 1 playlist, countless front covers, sell out tours… In that way they've ticked all the boxes for ‘breakthrough’, yet they've worked so hard to be where they are. They’re still selling their own merch and lifting gear after 10 years of doing it, success coming later to them makes it that much sweeter. It's a public vote so whoever has the most active fanbase will win and that's deserved.”
This is music's most mainstream event. How does being part of that sit with Idles and the team?
ZW: “It's bloody brilliant. Some little kid at home watching is going to know that there's a place for visceral challenging music in the accepted ‘mainstream’ again! We haven't really seen that for a while.”
Looking back at last year, what are the moments that stand out most?
MB: “The way Joy As An Act Of Resistance was received blew us all away, the support from fans and how they connected with the record and at live shows. Having played to empty rooms for many years just being grateful for every single person that has paid for a ticket and travelled to a show is what stands out.”
ZW: “I think a lot of people were shocked that an independent rock band could get a Top 5 album in a world ruled by streaming. [Guitarist] Mark Bowen playing Jools Holland's piano on Later… was another big one, and actually seeing jaws drop at Music Hall Of Williamsburg in New York was huge – we weren't sure that USA audience would get it, but they've sold out most of the follow-up tour 4 months ahead too!”
What are your plans for the band for the rest of the year, how can you kick on from here?
ZW: “Watch this space! Lots of plans. The next steps are another sell-out USA tour and a lot of festivals – including headlining Green Man. Even though we're nowhere near the end of the campaign, the band are already working on their next album. It's very exciting.”
Subscribers can read the full story here.
To subscribe and never miss a big music biz story, click here.