Interview: Athlete lead singer Joel Pott

Dan Poole talks to the lead singer of Athlete about graphic novels and Peruvian birds

Friday 26 October 2007 15:29
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Athelete first came to the UK's attention in 2003 when they released their debut album Vehicles and Animals. That was followed by their second album, Tourist, in 2005; single "Wires" did particularly well, winning an Ivor Novello award.

Clearly Athlete have a lot of stamina: this year sees the release of Beyond the Neighbourhood (read our review on page 36). Who better to put on the rostrum than lead singer Joel Pott?

Joel did his A-levels at the Brit School of Performing Arts and Technology, although none of them was in music! Graphic design, photography and English were the preferred options. Then he was all set to go to The University of Edinburgh to study graphic communications but moved to London to start a band instead! Here he gives us his cultural considerations for hitting all the right notes at university or college.

Best song to wake up to?

"Rebellion (Lies)" by Arcade Fire. It's that piano at the beginning and the way it builds; it's really uplifting. Lines like "...So lift those heavy eyelids" are perfect for someone like me who struggles to get out of bed.

Best book to fall asleep to?

To begin with I ignored the Harry Potter hype but then felt like I was missing out. All of them are good bedtime reading because you end up having mad, magic dreams.

Best film to get you inspired?

Last year I watched Munich. It's a pretty heavy film about a guy involved in the Israeli response to the killing of 11 athletes at the Olympics [in 1972]. I was inspired to write something about his confusion; the next day I wrote the last song on our latest album, "This is What I Sound Like".

Best album to study to?

Beyond The Neighbourhood by Athlete of course! Or, The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips. It kicks off with "Race for the Prize", one of the most glorious songs involving scientists, ever. If you're studying science, you will be a genius by the end of the album.

Best book to read in a café?

When we are touring I always buy indie graphic novels to read. They make you feel more intelligent and cooler than you actually are! Blankets by Craig Thompson is particularly good.

Best band to dance round your room to?

At the moment I'm loving the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP [Is Is]. Me and my daughter Myla jump around to "Down Boy" in the kitchen every morning.

Best boxset for a rainy Sunday afternoon?

The Story of Jamaican Music is perfect for this scenario. My uncle-in-law has the biggest collection of reggae ever and inspired me to start my own. This boxset is a good introduction to the genre.

Best magazine to waste time with?

Magazines like Hello! and Heat are a waste of time; I don't want to read about Jade Goody's latest haircut. National Geographic, on the other hand! Where else can you learn about the rich/poor divide in Dubai and then some weird birds in Peru in the space of 10 minutes?

Best artist to have on your iPod in the library?

I would listen to something like Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins. It's the best not-too-loud album of last year!

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