The new video from Idles, a British band whose tender-hearted punk has seen them win a legion of fans in their native U.K., begins with the cracking of knuckles. The archival clips then move on to a man tying his tie and aggressive childhood pile-ons.
As the song builds and becomes more frantic, so too do the steretypically masculine images on the screen. Soon the relatively innocent clips of the first half of the video are replaced with footage of soccer hooligans fighting in the street and fighter jets dropping bombs on indiscriminate war-torn countries.
"The mask of masculinity is a mask that's wearing me," sings frontman Joe Talbot over the top of a tight and anxiety-laced guitar riff. It's the third single from the band's upcoming album Joy As An Act Of Resistance, due on August 31via Partisan Records, and one of their most confrontational songs to date.
Both the song and video beg a lot of questions, some of which Talbot answered for The FADER via email. Read what he had to say on "Samaritans" and toxic masculinity below,
What is "Samaritans" about and what does it mean to you?
"Samaritans" came about at a time where I realised through counselling that I spent a lot of my life feeling lonely, even though I had such supportive friends and family around. I learned soon after it was down to a certain performative nature to which I related strength to silence, leading to problems as I ended up confused and angry from bottling up my feelings, which in turn then manifested in violence and self-loathing. I wanted to try and explore that in a song that could illustrate that relationship between masculinity and it’s trail of ugly shame and death.
How do you think that masculinity has reached this point of toxicity?
It has reached this point through many parts of culture leaning towards the masculine and feminine binaries pressuring people to “fit in”. This stems from way, way back which corporations and governments now capitalise on as a language that people not only believe as an organic language but also something to rely on.
Is men talking about the problems with masculinity in art and the media actually an extension of the problem when we could be listening to other voices instead?
No, I believe that it is important for men to look inwards and question the roles they play in order to love themselves for who they truly are, in turn being more open to vulnerability and in doing so becoming more open to other voices. Problems in society should be embraced by those responsible not just the victims.
The "Samaritans" video makes use of images of violence, from petty scraps to scenes of war. How do you, as a band whose music could be heard as aggressive on a surface level, police your audiences and keep any threatening element out of your live shows?
We show each other and the audience love and compassion. Violence is a tonal vehicle for our messages of compassion in order to get people thinking.
What does A Joy As An Act Of Resistance represent to Idles?”