I Am Kloot Biography
Last updated: 12/20/2010 11:00:00 AM
THEY say the devil is in the detail. Maybe, but god-like genius hangs out there, too. In a world that now seems to take notice only of melodramatic soundbites and grandiloquent gestures made against lurid, 2-D backdrops, I Am Kloot are a Harold Pinter real deal to everyone else’s overblown, Cecil B de Mille mock-ups. The rough ‘n’ tumble of realism is what makes Johnny Bramwell (singer/songwriter and guitarist), bass player Peter Jobson and drummer Andy Hargreaves tick. It’s the source of I Am Kloot’s misanthropic and surreal wit. When cut with their own brand of beat-up romanticism, it’s also what caused a girl to faint clean away during the band’s first gig outside Britain [in Paris on Valentine’s Day, 2001] when she heard them play ‘Twist’.
Formed in Manchester, I Am Kloot made their live debut at the city’s Night and Day venue in the summer of 1999 and were quickly snapped up by local impresario Guy Lovelady. He pressed up 1,000 copies in a brown-bag sleeve, hand stamped by the band, of debut single ‘Titanic’/‘To You’ on his fledging Uglyman label. "It was an easy decision " explains Lovelady " they were the first band I'd seen in years who actually had something to say, something to really express. They're a contradiction, combative yet charming, punchy yet embracing".
Uglyman released a second single ’86 TV’s’ / ‘Twist’ in February 2000, but soon after the band signed to Wall Of Sound’s new offshoot We Love You and in March 2001 they released their debut album ‘Natural History’. Critically recognised as one of the finest debut albums of the year, it more than confirmed their early promise as one of the best new bands around. "When we started I 'd just hit upon a vein of songwriting that had grown from stuff by Brecht, like 'Mack The Knife' " explains Bramwell. "Songs that I felt a part of myself, like a thief, scavenger or scallywag come to the fore, whispered and snarled at the same time. I wanted to take music that came from some obscure tradition and wack it straight into the present day. Carrying a club, a gun or a brickbat. These songs would come at you on crutches, with leg braces or in wheelchairs, an early review called me a club footed Gene Vincent, I fucking love that". Signing to The Echo Label in 2002 they released their eponymously titled second long player in September 2003 which coincided with a triumphant sold out show at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, the bands biggest UK show to date.
April 2005 and ‘Gods And Monsters’ represents a fuller, more expansive chapter in I Am Kloot’s musical autobiography. Recorded in Stockport's Moolah Rouge with producer Joe Robinson, it's thirteen songs are without doubt the trio's strongest and most ambitious to date. Consider darkly urgent, opener ‘No Direction Home’, the drunken, fairground waltz suggested by the title track, ‘Ordinary Girl’s noir-ish tale of murder, witchcraft and revenge, the Shadows-styled twang of ‘Stars Look Familiar’ and the Piaf tradition that informs ‘Avenue Of Hope’ – all recognisably I Am Kloot, certainly – but with a newly confident swing about their thing. Johnny Bramwell can feel the difference "Something clicked in the last 12 months, I felt as if the band had just begun, as if we'd sprung from the head of Zeus in Full body armour. The first album reminded me of ‘Columbo’, this one makes me think of ‘Richard III, Okay, there's a huge difference, but you can feel the thread in my head….there's a connection, you know, both outsiders, Columbo the goodie and Richard the baddie…can you feel it?"
“There’s more instruments at work but, at any given moment, there’s never more than four. We like to keep the space, 'Space is power. We spend more time taking things out of our music than adding to it and that way you get the lyrics that I'm interested in….fate, love and becoming recklessly abandoned". Indeed the warm, fluid and dynamic playing of Peter Jobson and Andy Hargreaves is the perfect foil to their frontman's stark songs.
"On 'God And Monsters' we got hold of some obscure third - hand Wurlitzer 'funmaker' organs from an old peoples home" adds Peter Jobson. The sounds on the album are more in keeping with the subject matter of the songs. The new songs are melodically strong enough to stand a bit of slapping about…yeah, they've been slapped about a bit by fairground carny instruments played by bearded ladies"
The band set off on their first tour of America in March 2005 to coincide with the release of the 'I Am Kloot' album, their first stateside release. The US dates are the first of what is more or less a world tour through 2005 and it's a way of life the band have been accustomed to over the last three years having toured extensively thro the UK and Europe , playing every major festival from Glastonbury to Benicasim along the way.
"When we did our first gigs at Night and Day and Undersolo in London it was obvious that we'd prepared our songs in a different way from other bands we were playing with " explains Andy Hargreaves. " Its still the case today really, we're on the outside and one of the reasons we do what we do, is because of a strong feeling of not belonging. When you've got a lyric like 'There's blood on your legs, I love you" or 'We fuck and we fight, someone else does the dishes" ('Twist') it opens up a whole way of delivery that pulls you into this tender yet brutal cinematic world we've created." adds Bramwell. "Time and again people will tell us that they'd forgotten that a lyric could grab affect them in such a way and new listeners are surprised by the power we have as a three - piece. Live, I think we are totally compelling , there have been times when I don't think I've actually blinked during the whole set"
If ‘Twist’ early on perfectly skewered the quotidian details of universally shared experience then that song’s power was more than simply lyrical. It was I Am Kloot’s collective communication skills at work and the 13 songs on ‘Gods And Monsters’ resonate for exactly the same reason. “I think connection is not only important, it’s vital" declares Bramwell. "I like to invoke the idea that there are ghosts and other things that we don’t know about. That’s why I like to be harsh and suggest that there are other things out there. I just don’t know what the fuck they are! But hopefully, you’ll be able to feel them.”
“I Am Kloot is a little universe we’ve created I Am Kloot is not a band, it’s a world. It’s an enigmatic one because it’s both brutal and charming. It’s ruthless and endearing, it’s full of contradictions and – it shifts across the sky like the weather.”
Indeed it does. Gods. Monsters. Mysterious ways. I Am Kloot.