In many ways incredibly similar to the indie landfill bands discussed over the previous three posts, producing a fourth piece of work has proven somewhat problematic. Although as an individual there are ultimately no conflicts of interest in documenting the rise and fall of some of 2007’s hottest artists, the motivation to competently complete that ‘difficult’ fourth article has quite honestly been lacking. Nevertheless it is quite often the strength of a group’s members that can decide one way or another whether the article is shelved or whether it hits the shelves in due course. There favouring the likes of Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys and The Killers more so than the infamous Joe Lean et al, it’s time to once again pick up pen and paper or in this case my laptop and get to work on the penultimate visit to the indie landfill!
Kings of Leon
Then: Back in 2007 Kings of Leon looked like many of their fans and wider followers of indie, alternative or rock music with long hair and dark clothing to match. Perhaps ‘because of the times’, the American four piece instantly stood out with a mysteriousness to match their incredibly awe inspiring early music which to this day is played regularly on alternative music radio stations around the world. Their debut album ‘Youth and Young Manhood’ proved to be a hit both in the UK and further afield reaching third position in the British album charts before their follow-up release a mere twelve months later ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ reached the very spot in the album charts. Despite moving sideward’s instead of up above to the top of the chart, Kings of Leon were beginning to gather quite the following through festival appearances and popular appearances and therefore by the time their third album was released three years later in 2007, the band were in many people’s to this day at the top of their game. It may well have been lauded by some critics and deemed inferior by others in equal measure but ten years ago Kings of Leon had already become a superpower in the alternative music scene and showed all the credentials to be a mainstay in the UK charts for several years to come.
Now: To many however, despite the modern day popularity of Kings of Leon in recent times, it was a year after their third album release where the band became a household name after the September release of their fourth album ‘Only by the Night’ in 2007. Like their last effort not only did it now top the UK charts but singles ‘Use Somebody’ and most notably ‘Sex On Fire’ widened the bans appeal from the hardcore following of slightly darker and grittier early rock music to a mainstream public audience that has accompanied the band ever since. After widespread acclaim and numerous glowing reviews across the world, Kings of Leon ended 2008 with the third biggest selling album of 2008 in spite of perceptions that such an album was the most polarised yet. It may well have changed the face of Kings of Leon since 2008 but for the success the band have enjoyed for the last decade since their popular release, it is fair to say that band will not be complaining. From this point onwards Kings of Leon have gone from strength to strength with three further album releases, numerous world tours including headline spots at the largest festivals in the world and new singles that even in 2017 continue to chart highly both in the USA and UK. Not bad for a band of brothers, eh?
It’s fair to say that Kings of Leon of all the bands featured across this five segment dig into the indie landfill most definitely don’t deserve to be branded with anything remotely near a landfill band. To many music lovers, Kings of Leon have rightly deserved their position as one of the most recognised, respected and prominent bands in the genre and to this day continue be successful – something incredibly rare and only enjoyed by a handful of similar bands from the era. Hats off to the busker men! Oh wait…
Then: Skag trendy, clearly I thought I knew just what to do to end that last section but clearly not! Yes for those who spotted it that’s two mentions of The View discography in as many sentences – I guess you could call me ‘the don’. If you don’t remember such references it could be that like many of the artists from the class of 2007 started with ‘The…’ and The View sadly fall into that category as often being branded as just another ‘the’ fronted band whose place in the indie landfill is fully warranted. For me however such criticism is unfair as almost out of nowhere, perhaps even overnight, The View exploded onto the music scene with hit single ‘Same Jeans’ which to this day like many singles by Kings of Leon remains a permanent feature in indie disco’s throughout the UK. Their debut album ‘Hats Off to the Buskers’ kicked off the year in 2007 and not only topped the UK Albums Chart in January but was later nominated for the 2007 Mercury Music Prize. An initial positive response to their single Same Jeans which charted in third position in the UK singles charts somewhat overshadowed the wider quality running throughout the album with singles such as Superstar Tradesman, Wasted Little DJ’s and Face for the Radio just three of their many songs that in many ways exceeded expectations and a lot of the indie music circulating throughout 2007.
Now: Like so many similar bands of their genre and generation such early success is hard to maintain and in a similar vein to the number of artists that soon disappeared from the mainstream music scene, The View in many people’s eyes were never to be seen again (at least in the UK charts at least). The critical acclaim from their debut album as well as publicity and high profile nominations had undoubtedly provided the band with both a reputation and a platform to build on but in waiting two years to release their follow up album ‘Which Bitch?’, the wave of indie music and hype around the genre had most definitely began to wane in such a short space of time. Sadly for The View, the Scottish band led by Kyle Falconer would perhaps never reach the dizzy heights of success as in 2007, struck like many by the second album syndrome which blights so many indie bands that have burst onto the scene with great enthusiasm and promise and consequently departed the industry through the back door, never to be seen again. Nevertheless instead of fading into complete obscurity, The View have produced five albums and have continued chipping away both in the studio and also with live performances with small venues or festivals a nowadays likely destination for the band who had it all ten years ago.
I’ll always remember going into my local HMV and purchasing The View’s debut album after watching the band on Soccer AM once Saturday morning in January 2007. Like many releases from the same era, it remained a staple feature of my CD collection but before I knew it, many of the friends and critics alike who had previously enjoyed The View were suddenly onto the next best thing. Therefore there is no fairytale ending at least in my case with my copy of their album in a charity shop probably still somewhere for sale in the country.
We Are Scientists
Then: I never really liked science in 2007. It was always one of the subjects that I’d dread having first lesson any day of the week – or second, third, fourth or final lesson of the day for that fact! On the flip side however, We Are Scientists were certainly a band that I did like after they were most probably brought to my attention by the ever faithful NME magazine. Although I admittedly (somehow) used to confuse the American duo for either Flight of the Concords or The Mighty Boosh, We Are Scientists were perhaps one of the more memorable artists of the 2007 alternative music scene – at least for me anyhow. Whilst the songs I always liked could probably be counted on one hand, We Are Scientists always matched their breakthrough success ‘With Love and Squalor’ with an engaging humour and rapport with interviewers and fans with a number of eye catching on stage performances often equal to the exuberant interview remarks made away from live performances. Although active as a band from 1999, their second album ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ was released in 2007 and charted just outside the top ten in the UK albums charts. Nevertheless for a relatively unknown band to many prior to their release that year, singles ‘Chick Lit’ and most notably ‘After Hours’ brought the band into the mainstream and even if appearance more so than name itself, We Are Scientists at least entered the history books as one of the many bands that helped contribute to the indie subculture back in 2007.
Now: Somewhat surprisingly it was with great interest and personal satisfaction to read that despite not releasing any music since April 2016, We Are Scientists are still musicians and not actually scientists and continue to function as an active band. As where so many fall by the wayside due to a lack of label support or funding for future album releases, We Are Scientists have in fact released six albums since 2002 including two in the last three years making the duo one of the more active groups in terms of musical output more so than their previous competitors from the same era. Even in spite of changes made in personnel with former Razorlight Andy Burrows joining the band for some time after the departure of Michael Tapper, the longevity of the group even without the popularity, reputation and mainstream success they had a taste of back in 2007 should be applauded a decade later. The band have continued even to this day creating all of their music video concepts themselves and took their video production to the next level back in 2009, transforming their joint musical output into television through the curating and helping create ‘Steve Wants His Money’ for MTV, a seven episode series of television shorts – perhaps no surprise given the bands former appeal and the positive way in which both had always come across in the promotion of their music through radio, written press and most notably television.
If you’re a band capable enough of creating an indie album as raw yet engaging as many artists did so back in 2007, ‘this door is always open, this door is always open’ and nobody will have the guts to shut you out if you’re music is good enough. Whether nobody moves then nobody ends up getting hurt remains a mystery, as in many ways does the limited success that the We Are Scientists boys enjoyed – their music certainly stood out yet is surprisingly overlooked ten years on when it comes to recalling some of the greatest hits of that era. What a shame.
Then: I’ll be completely honest with you – whilst I like to think that I have developed knowledge and an appreciation of almost all of the groups covered so far in the previous excavations of the indie landfill of 2007, Interpol are perhaps one of the few groups whose music I never really encountered both back then and even to this day. Often confused with their much more authoritative name sake in enabling police just under two hundred member countries to work together to fight international crime, Interpol are instead an incredibly iconic rock band whose lifespan spans much longer than 2007 with Interpol already function as an active band ten years prior to that; making the group one of the longest serving members teetering on the edge of the indie landfill. Such experience perhaps explains that by 2007, Interpol were already incredibly well-established amongst their supporters after the release of ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ in 2002 and follow up album ‘Antics’ two years later. Interpol unlike the likes of The Strokes and The Libertines perhaps owe their rise to fame to the New York City indie music scene as one of several groups that emerged from the post-punk revival of the 2000s. Yet regardless, through the growth of technology and the spread and demand for indie music from all corners of the world, Interpol soon reached British shores and by 2007 the band had become a high profile figure in the alternative music scene thanks to their popular release of ‘Our Love to Admire’ which brought with it great critical and commercial success.
Now: In a similar vein to the Manic Street Preachers that have also been mentioned as a potential member of the indie landfill, Interpol continue to operate as a band both in the studio and playing live. Their star may have somewhat faded since the success enjoyed in the early to middle parts of the 00’s but by name at least, Interpol are one of the more recognisable figures of the noughties era, especially with a niche audience of much heavier, maybe even darker alternative music as opposed to the likes of The View or We Are Scientists. Drawing early comparisons with the likes of Joy Division and The Chameleons, Interpol have since released albums three years later in 2010 and also in 2014 and even went on hiatus between 2011 and 2012 while the band focused on other projects. Interpol continue to tour and have most recently embarked on a ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ tour throughout the UK which is perhaps the best way to tick the band off your bucket list with UK festival appearances proving few and far between. Members of the band have in recent years gone solo with Paul Banks even working with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan in what has proved an experimental period since the 2014 release of ‘El Pintor’ for the band. Again however, rather than simply throw in the towel, like any persevering policeman intent on fully solving a mystery, it’s good to see Interpol remain an active band a full decade on from their successful 2007 release.
Despite the need for a ‘big break’ achieved by a consequent hiatus after just under fifteen years as a band, at least from my own reading it would appear that the band maintain an incredibly organic approach to music production with each band member contributing to songwriting, rather than relying on a lead songwriter. And given the band are celebrating twenty years as a key figure in the alternative music scene this year, for up and coming bands of a similar genre a lot could certainly be learned from the men from New York City.
Then: Whether it be through a lack of current ‘Employment’ or the simple fear of an ‘Angry Mob’ turning up at my door had I not mentioned the Kaiser Chiefs, it would feel somewhat unjust that one of the most influential members of the indie music scene from 2004/05 onwards was not included somewhere. To music lovers nowadays longing for a return to the thrills and spills enjoyed by a generation much older than they are, the Kaiser Chiefs may seem like just another band but as a teenager growing up in that era, it’s fair to say that the guys from Leeds were everywhere. Breaking onto the scene through the 2005 NME Awards Tour as the opening act, Kaiser Chiefs soon followed in the footsteps of their predecessors Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand who too from the same tour quickly reached dizzy heights. Their debut album was described as ‘thrilling from beginning to end’, ‘quintessentially British’ and ‘a whole lot of fun’ and subsequently charted in second position in the UK albums chart before narrowly being beaten in the Mercury Music Prize awards of the same year only to be narrowly beaten and later rewarded instead with a consolation Ivor Novello award for ‘Best Album’. Oh My God, the Kaiser Chiefs had soon established the modern way and it proved unsurprising why many critics predicted a riot after grabbing the hearts and minds of the British public that certainly weren’t loving the Kaiser Chiefs less and less (at that point at least)! Yours truly, Angry Mob would follow in 2007 with the Kaiser Chiefs selling out five figure arenas across the UK and were widely considered similar to the likes of Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay today, as one the biggest, most influential and recognisable sing-along bands of 2007. Untouchable.
Now: Again though, like so many, with such recognition and critical acclaim, unlike a footballer who can somehow always sustain a career at the highest level after a couple of good seasons in peak form and condition, you find yourself scratching your head asking ‘where did it all go wrong’ for the Kaiser Chiefs? Quite simply, to follow up an album that clearly meant so much too so many would always be an incredibly challenging task. In addition with the band keen to change their appearance from the bright and colourful indie five piece with a constant spring in their step to a much more well established, professional and musically astute alternative rock band, the Kaiser Chiefs perhaps understood they may have struggled initially but maybe not as much as they thought they would do following the nationwide success of hit single ‘Ruby’ – the lead song from their follow up album in 2007 which was widely criticised at the time. The Kaiser Chiefs still remained incredibly popular, selling out their beloved Elland Road to 40,000 people back in 2008 and have since released a further four albums between 2008-2016 which would suggest the band have unlike many, survived the test of time and continue to at least have a modern day influence in the alternative music scene, albeit to nowhere near the same public acclaim as they had enjoyed between 2005-08. The sad thing was that everything did sadly become somewhat more average for the Kaiser Chiefs, a band who at the peak of their powers looked unbeatable and one who many might have thought had even gone into retirement after their quick rise and fall in the mid 00’s.
The 00’s meant much more than heavy rock and roll and the Kaiser Chiefs soon proved that with humility, honesty and hard-work, platinum records, worldwide tours and both singles and album sales well into their millions can most definitely be achieved. In my eyes at least, they should still to this day be considered one of the most influential and well respected bands of a generation of landfill indie music.