Very few bands have caught the attention of the music world in recent years quite like Klaxons. Emerging from East London amidst a blaze of hype and neon shades they went on to win the Mercury Music Prize in 2007, collaborate with Rihanna at the BRIT Awards and blaze a hedonistic trail across the world with their unique brand of euphoric art-pop meets rave culture. Leaving the world in their dust the band then disappeared for three years whilst people tried to make sense of exactly what had happened as they scrubbed the insides of a glo-stick from their jeans. With rumours swirling above them and the very real threat of a backlash lurking ominously, Klaxons finally return this week with their second album, Surfing The Void. Meeting up with a ’delicate’ Jamie Reynolds (He was up late recording and then drinking) shortly before the album’s release you’d be hard pressed to imagine this is a man much of the music world is waiting to see fail. “What criticisms of us do people have? I don’t really listen to that” he says when asked if Surfing The Void is the album to end the many rumours about Klaxons right now.
Living in their own world is something Klaxons to very well and Surfing The Void is another kaleidoscopic peak into their confusing universe. Three years, as Jamie is right to point out, is not really that long to be away - it’s hardly Guns N’ Roses territory. The protracted absence allowed rumours to routinely pop up though including a mysterious album of songs the band were reported to have been ordered to ditch. “We never intended to release those as our album, we were just making music for fun” says Jamie of the ‘lost’ music. “We’re releasing those songs as an EP eventually, they’re beautiful and slow. I listen to them before I go to sleep each night.“
Yet the world does feel like it‘s been missing something without Jamie and his band mates Simon, James and Stefan; the party didn’t quite lose its heart or soul but it definitely felt flatter in their absence. It is this party starting ability that inspired much of Surfing The Void with the band wanting to make songs to take their gigs up an extra notch. “We will be the first to admit that we weren’t the best band technically when we started, not by a long shot.” admits Jamie “But we improved over time and in the making of this album we’re a much tighter band. With the songs that we had and the new ones it feels like our shows have a real depth now. That was one of the first things Ross taught us, how to work together as a band.”
Ross, for those who don’t know, is Ross Robinson - the man Klaxons finally settled with as album producer after unsuccessful attempts with James Ford and even Tony Visconti. “Technically we never got down to working with Tony. We met up and chatted about things but nothing quite happened.” Working with Ross however clicked immediately for the band. “He just came along and everything started working” says Jamie, noticeably becoming more animated as he discusses the legendary producer. “He’s worked on some of my favourite albums of all time. He’s the man who made Relationship of Command so when he speaks, you listen.” Make them work he did with Jamie crediting the heavier and more intense rock sound on the album to Ross putting Klaxons drummer Stefan Halpert through his paces and almost pushing him to breaking point, “It’s noticeable how much bigger everything sounds now. Stefan is like a different man thanks to Ross.”
The band left Ross, and LA, with Surfing The Void, an album that positions Klaxons as a band who have moved on from the ‘Nu-Rave’ tag which both propelled and dogged their early career. Bold and dynamic Klaxons in 2010 are a band finding their feet nicely. Realising that this is what they do for a living and not just a London scene joke which snowballed into massive success each individual band member has stepped up their game and delivered an album that stands alone as the bravest thing Klaxons have made to date. Unlike many however, Jamie isn’t in any rush to disown the movement which helped draw the worlds attention to Klaxons. “I created that thing, I came up with the name ‘nu-rave’ so if there is anyone I need to blame it’s myself. Obviously we’re not the same band that we were three years ago but I’m immensely proud of what we achieved at that time and we got to do it all with some of our best friends in the world. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.”
With an album that retains their love of melody and intergalactic philosophy the new Klaxons line up as a band who have survived and will continue to fight, quietly establishing themselves as one of the country’s most fascinating bands. With zero expectations and a lack of scene driven heat on them perhaps now is the time that Klaxons will stand up on two feet and ride the crest of their own wave.
Surfing The Void is out now on Polydor.
Klaxons will headline the NME/ Radio 1 stage at this weekend's Reading and Leeds Festivals this Bank Holiday weekend.