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Idlewild Biography

Last updated: 02/26/2008 11:00:00 AM

idlewild are....
Roddy Woomble (vocals)
Rod Jones (guitar)
Bob Fairfoull (bass)
Colin Newton (drums)

Idlewild took their name from the quiet meeting place in the book 'Anne Of Green Gables'.

The band formed in December 1995 after having met at a party in Edinburgh having discovered their shared passions for bands like Sonic Youth, Black Flag and classic Dischord punk. Throw in those influences with The Stooges, REM and Nirvana and you begin to get close to the sound that the lads wanted to produce.

They played their first gig in early '96.and spent the rest of the year writing songs and gigging around Edinburgh and Glasgow. The inventive use of student loans led to a 7" single in March '97 entitled 'Queen of the Troubled Teens' which was released on local label Human Condition , a label previously responsible for singles from Eugenius and Chicane. This first single proved successful with radio play not only locally but on Steve Lamacq's Radio 1 Evening Session. Further gigs followed including supports to The Fall and Gold Blade.

Idlewild soon came to the attention of Simon Williams who asked the lads to release a single with his Fierce Panda label. Fierce Panda being a hugely influential label who in the past had been responsible for early singles from such acts as Mansun,Placebo,Embrace and The Bluetones.Idlewild accepted Simon's offer and needless to say college courses were duly ditched!

September '97 saw the band reach the finals of the annual In The City ( a big UK music business convention) unsigned band competition. The band then went into the studio with Paul Tipler to record both the Fierce Panda single 'Chandelier/I Want To Be A Writer '( released on 1st December '97 ) and a mini album 'Captain' (released in January) for Deceptive Records (home of Elastica and Jonathan Fire*Eater amongst others). Things were looking promising as the mini-album recieved glowing reviews from the music press (NME gave the album an 8/10 review , with Melody Maker proclaiming ' the year is theirs for the taking').

Late December '97 saw the band sign to Food Records but first there was to be a single for Deceptive to tie in with their appearance at the NME Brat Awards and the band's first UK tour. 'Satan Polaroid' was a Kerrang! magazine Single of the week and referred to as 'an adrenaline-fuelled live favourite featuring hypnotic verses, unsettling barks and a storming chorus'.

More touring followed, this time with The Warm Jets and The Radio 1 Evening Session Tour with Catatonia and Travis. Their live shows quickly gained legendary status.

Both record and gig reviews were increasingly praiseworthy, the press's "Idlewild are, of course, quite fantastic" sums up both the press and public's opinion of Idlewild. The band's future was beginning to look very rosy indeed!

The band's schedule for '98 consisted of one big list of tour dates, which was getting bigger and better all the time. In April '98 Idlewild's first single for Food Records, 'A Film For The Future', was released and described by Melody Maker as 'The best livid rock single since 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' bar absofuckinglutely nothing'. 'Everyone Says You're So Fragile' was the next single and became NME's single of the week - 'This is what Fugazi would sound like if they eat meat. Idlewild , I love you'.

Over the summer , the band made several abortive festival appearances (Glastonbury - delayed by mud, T in the Park - stage blew up, Phoenix - look it wasn't their fault !) , and a couple of warm up shows with label mates Blur between completing their new album with producer Paul Tipler.The end of the summer saw a triumphant appearance at Reading Festival.

October '98 was arguabley the busiest period of activity for Idlewild yet. After tour dates of their own in late September , the band started a lengthly support tour with Ash. 12th October saw the release of single 'I'm A Message' which saw the band reach the dizzy heights of Radio 1 playlists and a Melody Maker front cover. The single preceeded their debut album release 'Hope Is Important' which was released on 26th October 1998.

'Hope Is Important' is , according to Roddy, "a noisy, melancholy pop record" featuring 12 tracks of exhilarating punk punctuated by unexpectedly delicate tunes, and was described by Melody Maker as 'Confusing, explosive but most of all, invigorating. Ye gods! A near perfect album'.

After it's release touring continued.The band headed out to New York to play their first American date (as part of CMJ) and the year was rounded off with a short tour which included a sold out London ULU show, the band's biggest headlining date so far. Next for the lads was their first trip to Japan for two shows, lots of interviews and to sign thousands of autographs!

Idlewild's year had began with a gig at the Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham, opening for Midget and Glitterbox, and 4 singles, 1 mini-album, 1 full-length album and loads of gigs later ended in Tokyo on 7th December playing to a venue packed full of screaming Japanese fans. It was getting better all the time!

1999 began as the the old one ended, yes, lots more gigging - this time with UNKLE on the NME Carling Premier Tour. 'When I Argue I See Shapes' was released as a single and saw the band crack the UK Top 20 for the first time.

After a few support slots with Placebo and a European Tour with the Manic Street Preachers the band returned to start writing the new album. Summer of '99 saw several storming festival appearances and an appearance in Edinburgh's Princess Street Gardens with Garbage at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament.

'Little Discourage', previewed at the summer shows, was to be the first release from the new album, and gained yet another Kerrang! Single of the week and another UK chart hit. To accompany the release of 'Little Discourage' the lads hit the road for a 14 date UK tour, which began obtusely in the Orkney Islands (where the song's video was shot). NME witnessed the show and declared 'Orkneys! Lock up your puffins! You have been rocked!'.

The year, Century and indeed Millennium ended with the band travelling to Chicago to record the new album and play 6 US dates, and then returning to put the finishing touches to the album.

2000 begins with the lads gearing up for action yet again with a full UK tour planned along with the release of the forthcoming single 'Actually It's Darkness' on 27th March followed closely by the release of the new album '100 Broken Windows' on 10th April.

The album, '100 Broken Windows', was recorded at intervals last year over 7 months (May to November), across no less than 4 countries (Scotland, England, Wales and the US) with 2 producers - Dave Eringa (previous work includes Manic Street Preachers) and Bob Weston (whose work includes Shellac, Rodan and Sebadoh).

Whilst retaining the invigorating energy and fierceness of old, '100 Broken Windows' is a progression with a greater emphasis on harmony and lyrics. There are references to history and the passage of time and the Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown was a particular influence on Roddy's lyrics.

'100 broken windows' is proving a success for the lads. The album entered the UK chart at number 15 in the first week of release, and now boasts 3 hit singles ('Little discourage', 'Actually it's darkness' and 'These wooden ideas'). Along with this success has come Idlewild's first 2 appearances on the BBC's long-running chart show 'Top of the Pops' along with a Channel 4 special dedicated to the band and a set of performances on Jools Holland's popular TV show 'Later with Jools Holland' along with the likes of Paul Weller! Not to mention the Radio 1 'One Big Sunday' event at Falkirk where Idlewild were somewhat catapulted into "Planet Pop"!

This year the lads made a mighty return to the charts with the Top 10 smash hit single 'You held the world in your arms'. The track, taken from the forthcoming album 'The Remote Part' (to be released 15th July 2002), saw the band enter the Top 10 for the 1st time!


(revised version: 12th July 2002)