A new album, a summer of festivals and a celebrity marriage have given this trio plenty to shout about, as Tim Hughes discovers
Klaxons have had one of their best years yet. A storming summer of international festivals – including a triumphant return to Reading – has been accompanied by an acclaimed new album, their first for four years.
But, say the band, the best is yet to come.
On Saturday, September 27, the band headline a new festival taking place in Oxford’s South Park.
Called OxfordOxford, the 10,000-capacity weekend-long event takes also includes days of cinema and community activities. Klaxons take top-billing on a day of music, which also features Supergrass star Gaz Coombes and R&B singer Katy B. It will be the first major rock festival to take place in the park since Radiohead’s legendary homecoming show in 2001. And, according to guitarist Simon Taylor-Davis, it looks like being the highlight of what has already been a mighty fine year. “We are really excited,” he says, talking from his home in East London. “I was at that Radiohead show 13 years ago, which was an amazing experience.”
“Oxford holds quite a special place in my heart anyway, as its the place we used to go to gigs when we were young. I have great memories of coming down from Warwickshire to all-dayers like Audioscope and then coming down to play at The Zodiac. This will be a homecoming of sorts.”
Hailing from Leamington Spa, Simon met keys player and vocalist James Righton at school in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Klaxons was born when they met bassist and singer Jamie Reynolds in New Cross, South London. They are currently augmented by George Latham on drums.
The band hit the ground running their breakneck singles Gravity’s Rainbow and Atlantis to Interzone, spawning what became a new rock subculture –‘nu-rave’, which saw the band greeted by wildly dancing glow-stick brandishing fans. They went on to win Best New Band at the NME Awards. Their debut album Myths of the Near Future, released in 2007, charted at number two (beaten only by Norah Jones). The record, featuring top 20 crowd-pleasers Golden Skans and It’s Not Over Yet (a cover of the Grace tune) scooped a Mercury Prize (beating the likes of Amy Winehouse, Bat for Lashes and Arctic Monkeys) and was named Best Album at the following year’s NME Awards.
They followed up with 2010’s Surfing the Void, which saw them branch out into more experimental space rock territory, with a dance and dubstep-influenced album, and now Love Frequency – produced with help from Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.
It’s a delicious slice of electric-pop which harks back to their early ‘nu-rave’ days. “The vocals and melodies are strong,” says Simon. “It’s also interesting how production has played such an important part in the band’s existence compared to other bands.”
He said the band had moved from punk, through pop, hard rock and electronica – with the effect of sometimes confusing listeners “People have always had polarised opinions of us as a live band, as we are always different,” he admits. “What we do live, works differently to what we do in the studio.
“On this album not a single track was produced with us all standing around playing. It was recorded track by track, layer by layer, deconstructing the band. And that was the approach which created most excitement for us.”
Simon is particularly delighted to be sharing a bill with Gaz Coombes – who’s band Supergrass were also on the bill at that Radiohead show.
“We love Gaz,” he says. “Supergrass were a huge influence on the band and it’s a total dream to be playing on the same stage as him.
“That was an incredible day,” he recalls. “We got a place down the hill, near the front, and saw all the bands – Supergrass, Beck, Sigor Ross, Humphrey Lyttelton, The Rock of Travolta... and I remember the show being absolutely phenomenal. I respect that diversity in the bill even more so now. It gave people a chance to hear music they otherwise wouldn’t hear. And then it rained for Creep – which was perfect.
“Hopefully this coming show will be of similar magnitude.”
The festival, which will take place in a large circus-style big top, also features Tunng, Christian Gregory and Celeste of Movement Records, and Oxford acts Pixel Fix, Dance a la Plage, Flights of Helios, Balloon Ascents and Robot Swans.
And Simon is promising a night to remember. “Festivals are the place we always feel most comfortable,” he says. “We are on our third record, so when we play live we’ve got a lot of stuff to pick from.
“We are on incredible form and this is a great time to catch us.
“The new album is quite electric and great to hear live. It’ll be absolutely banging; a full-on electric rock set!”
So does that mean we’ll hear all the hits? “Yes. We’ve never been one of those bands to say ‘we are not going to play that’. So of course we’ll be playing Golden Skans and It’s Not Over Yet. We’d be maniacs to drop those songs. We’ll be playing our biggest set ever.”
Klaxons have acquired something of a celebrity following over the past year as a result of band member James’s marriage to Keira Knightley. The actress was in the audience at the band’s Oxford show at the O2 Academy, last year. So is the Pirates of the Caribbean star a fan? Simon pauses thoughtfully, carefully picking his words. “She doesn’t say anything negative about the band,” he says.
And is he expecting her to come along to South Park? “Stranger things have happened,” he laughs, “and probably will again.”
He goes on: “We are very proud of what we have achieved. It’s all been wild, bizarre and bonkers. I don’t think we’ve done anything that’s boring. I’m grateful we’ve been given the opportunity to make this weird and exciting, yet strange, pop.
“I’m proud of everything, but still going out to play shows is incredible. And to be headlining this event is a total dream come true.”
CHECK IT OUT
OxfordOxford runs from September 26-28. Tickets cost £32.50 for Saturday’s day of music. Concessions and weekend tickets are also available. Go to oxfordoxford.co.uk
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