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)

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine