Monday, February 18, 2013

Four Things We Learned From Bloc Party's Matt Tong

Title: Four Things We Learned From Bloc Party's Matt Tong
Written by Niche Dumlao
Matt Tong, drummer extraordinaire for seminal English band Bloc Party, is somewhere in Dublin. Sitting in a hotel room with a phone attached to him…answering eager questions from the string of Philippine press scheduled that day – or the world over even. In between the busy schedule of the band, one cannot help but admire the dedication the boys have put into keeping the party alive. After all, this band has churned out 4 albums, myriads of singles and videos plus a gamut of remixes spanning more than a  decade. And among those, are memorable songs such as “Banquet”, “The Prayer”, “I Still Remember”, “Tulips”, “Kettling”, and my personal favorite – “The Once and Future King”.

Now, Matt Tong, drummer extraordinaire for seminal English band Bloc Party, shall soon find himself in ever colorful Manila for the band’s first gig in the country. And with the flutter of excitement has garnered, we’re pretty sure that many are more than ready to embrace the band’s brand of music live. Gearing themselves to bask in tracks from “Silent Alarm” (of which Matt describes as a “their defining album”) to their latest release, “Four” (of which Matt describes as “aggression, heartfelt, unedited…”)

So before the four lads from London reach our shores, we took some time to be part of Matt’s busy schedule and settle down for a little chat. From where we learned 4 awesome bits about Bloc Party and about Matt himself.

FOUR reignited them as a band
Matt shares that the album gave them a fresher perspective after coming out of the long hiatus since their 2008 release, “Intimacy”. During the building of the record, Matt shares that FOUR brought them back to the studio and made them realize the value of being in the band. And more importantly, the value of playing music. And coming together again was a decent thing to do, especially for their fans. However, he rebuts that the break did not really influence the sound of the record but its influence was harped on to their desire to be together again.

He reads fan blogs and artists reviews
When asked how much Matt values fan reviews in blogs and magazine reviews, he quips that he doesn’t really value either. Yet he feels that it’s important to heed fan blogs and journalistic articles. “Professional reviews versus fan reviews has merits for different reasons”, he says. “It’s good to read about their perspectives especially as an artist but it’s a dangerous trap. If you spent too much time thinking about what others would say, you sorta second guess yourself. So in the end, it pays to be objective when approaching these.”

On how he wants to be remembered
Being one fourth of Bloc Party, it’s undeniable that the band has already stamped a lot of musical legacies here and there.  So when asked how he wanted to be remembered, he shares “I’d like [Bloc Party] to be remembered as a band that did things differently and [we] broke the mold of the indie rock [genre].” And as an individual, he wants to be known as someone “passionate”.

He can’t wait for the Manila show
As the band’s first time to be in this part of the world, Matt cites that he’s always been motivated to play to new audiences worldwide.  “I’m excited to see if people would show up and I’m excited to see their reaction”.  He adds that despite numerous shows, he always finds it a challenge to deliver the best show possible for the fans. But beyond that, Matt shares another reason why he’s stoked to play in Manila – and that’s to try the local cuisine. He muses that “Filipino food isn’t really represented that well overseas that’s why I wanna try it”.

So don’t disappoint the man. Show up at the Bloc Party show on March 22 at the World Trade Center. And together we behold the pulsating talent of the band – from vocalist Kele Okereke, guitarist Russell Lissack, bassist Gordon Moakes, and of course Matt Tong, drummer extraordinaire for seminal English band Bloc Party.

Bloc Party live in Manila is presented by Warner Music Philippines and Hostess Entertainment. For tickets, visit

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