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Counting down to their Electric Picnic slot Wild Beasts‘s Hayden Thorpse talks Olympics, sexual identity and Liam Gallagher.
Ed Power, 28 Aug 2012
Danny Boyle’s bizarro Olympics opening ceremony – with its WFT-slathered juxtaposing of Fuck Buttons, David Beckham, James Bond and David Holmes – has drawn near-universal praise. Let it be noted, though, that not everyone’s chugging the Kool-Aid.
“Britain was presented in such a narrow clichéd way,” sighs Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe, he of that creepy but wondrous eunuch croon. “While I hate to sound like a cynical old bugger, I don’t think our most creative and interesting face was put forward. It didn’t represent what, to me, Britain is.”
So if Boyle had called up looking to use a Wild Beasts track in the ceremony – when Becks was tootling down the Thames with the Olympic flame, say – they’d have turned him down flat?
“I don’t want to be hypocrite,” says Thorpe. “I can’t imagine saying ‘no’, not with a viewership of billions. I’m not criticising Danny Boyle – what I was surprised by was how unequivocally positive everyone’s response to the opening ceremony was. For what it represented it was great. The point is that it was somebody’s version of Britain. Not mine. It made me feel alienated.”
If they ever start handing out gold medals for gender-upending independent rock Wild Beasts will surely be top of the podium. Over three albums they’ve waged subtle war on British machismo, its traditional conflating masculinity and simian lairiness.
“We try to break down this cliché of what’s masculine and feminine,” he explains. “The way I’ve sung I’ve always had people assuming I was gay or effeminate or whatever. Whereas in fact I think there’s a great dynamic richness to men and women.”
He goes so far as to suggest Wild Beasts, with their format-defying sophistication and touchy-feelie themes, might be the anti-Oasis.
“As a kid I adored Britpop, of course I did. Once I reached 16 I got disillusioned. I had this realisation that Liam Gallagher is not a good guy, you know? That whole scene was an old boys’ club – boring and bland and safe.”