Inebriating listeners with melodic capsules of breathy falsettos, skittering beats and erotic yet keen innuendos, Wild Beasts have drawn a strong fan base in their English homeland. But hit singles, including “Albatross” and “Bed of Nails,” from their third and latest album Smother have generated interest across the pond. Chock full of poetic lyrics and romance, the album epitomizes compulsive love.
The quartet is starting its North American tour for its latest album, Smother, at the Austin City Limits Festival this Saturday.
The Daily Texan interviewed Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts about their upcoming performance at ACL, their latest album and their fascination with sex.
Daily Texan: You’re kicking off your North American tour with Austin City Limits. Have you been to Austin before?
Tom Fleming: Our first trip to the U.S. was SXSW 2009. It still stands out to me as the best time I’ve had in a band. We have friends there who have produced wonderful dance videos for us.
DT: What are some things you want to do this time?
Fleming: I want to watch the bats come out at sunset. And have Willie Nelson’s breakfast [chicken fried steak and a Bloody Mary].
DT: It’s really hot here. Do you think you are prepared for the heat?
Fleming: Oh, never. As an English northerner of Irish and Nordic stock, there is no way on Earth I could be prepared. I was in New York during their heat wave and scuttled around like a startled cockroach, and I imagine it has nothing on Texas.
DT: What can ACL go-ers expect from your set? Any crazy antics planned?
Fleming: We don’t so much do antics, but we’re definitely a live band, even with our new machines. Also, our drummer is very good; watch him.
DT: I know you like to stream favorite quotes from literature and films into your music. What are some used in Smother?
Fleming: We tend to use then as jumping off points. There’s “Frankenstein” in “Bed of Nails” and T.S. Eliot in “Burning,” but we use the sampling rationale of being playful and re-contextualizing things. Nothing is really used to the end it was intended for.
DT: Was there a central idea for Smother? Inspirations?
Fleming: They’re really 10 love songs and mainly about intimacy and being close, too close, to someone — hence “smother.” It’s an attempt to reclaim what is important in the madness of being on the road all the time, an attempt to remember where you’ve been and what’s happened.
DT: Wild Beasts is well associated with sex. To you, what is good sex? What does it take?
Fleming: Sex brings people together, but it’s not the thing, you know? It’s kind of an extension of what you feel for someone you like. Also, if you’ve had bad sex, I think it helps. Be good to each other!
DT: And between the other guys, who would you say has the best game in winning women’s hearts?
Fleming: We’re all shy English boys with pretty dark imaginations. Listen to our songs; we’re car crashes.
Printed on September 15, 2011 as: English musician prepares for Texas heat