Battles - Conflict comes with the territory for this band

Battles by name, battles by nature. At least, that's what Gillian Orr found when she met the New York avant-gardists whose attitude belies their fun side

Battles don't make for easy interviewees. The experimental, avant-garde rock band from New York seem to be bored, tired or hung over. Perhaps all three. They do everything they can to side-step anything that resembles a question. For every question there is a smart-arse response. Ask them about this December's All Tomorrow's Parties music festival, which they've been asked to curate along with Caribou and Les Savy Fav, and they say: "We're decorating the chalets that people stay in. We've been working with an interior designer."

Frustrating is not the word. Suddenly it's not so surprising that I've been issued with my first-ever plea to not bring up a subject in an interview: the departure of former guitarist and vocalist Tyondai Braxton. (Apparently they're tired of talking about it). "Are you mad at us?" asks bassist Dave Konopka about 20 minutes into the interview. "Let's refocus!" cries guitarist Ian Williams.

Battles, whose ages range from 35 to 43, formed in 2002 after each member had enjoyed success in other bands. Having released a few EPs, the band put out their debut album, Mirrored, in 2007. Hailed as one of the most exciting records of the year, it was a complex, intricately constructed piece which bemused as many as it delighted. Then, while working on their follow-up, Braxton unexpectedly quit, leaving them having to rewrite the entire record. The result was Gloss Drop, released earlier this year. "I thought we would never finish that record," recalls Stanier. "Because there were so many obstacles and it was such a difficult record to make in the first place." While they went into the studio with songs to record Mirrored, Gloss Drop was a far more organic affair.

"We broke off into separate rooms in the studio and recorded our own parts and kept turning them into the main control room and piecing together the album like a puzzle," says Konopka. The band invited guest vocalists to four tracks on the album, including Gary Numan, whose appearance on the All Tomorrow's Parties line-up suggests that he will finally join the band live for the track "My Machines". It is live where Battles are at their best and their unusual set up (they are, in a sense, all frontmen) and tight musicianship really make them worth seeing.

After the first album they quickly drew a reputation as a muso's band. But, although no less ambitious, Gloss Drop is widely considered to be a brighter record than its predecessor and may go some way to explaining why they're suddenly seeing a new set of fans turn up to their shows: women. "Bradford from Deerhunter was telling me that," says Konopka. "He was like, 'women like you guys now'. It's weird, I don't know why."

"Girls, get with it because your sisters are grooving." Williams grins. The band reject the idea that they are in any way pretentious and insist that their music is not just about picking apart the sum of its parts but to also have fun with and dance to.

"We're not precious about who likes us. My dream is that we're like this tabloid magazine that you can buy from the shelf of a supermarket, next to the cash register. Cheap and accessible," deadpans Konopka.

"I think our influences seep up from a deep well of the years under our belt and it comes from a lot of places," continues Williams. "Genuinely it's not a formulated trick. It happens to be where we are musically at this point in our lives." They've even allowed their music to be used in various advertisements, televisions shows and films, a move which might surprise some.

"I think a super-long time ago all that was considered bad but now that no-one buys records I think it's a very good thing because you have to make a living somehow," says Stanier. "As long as it's not for, you know, diapers."

"Actually we have some interesting things coming up. We've just done the new Hummer campaign and Shell Oil," jokes Williams. "We're also playing George Bush's daughter's birthday party. It should be cool. "

And they're back to fooling around again. Battles: a superb band; a blast to hang out with. And a bit of a nightmare to interview.

Battles tour from 16-21 November. They curate a day of All Tomorrow's Parties, Minehead, 9-11 December (www.bttls.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as Doctor Who and Clara behind the scenes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cheery but half-baked canine caper: 'Pudsey the dog: The movie'

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor