Klaxons' Jamie Reynolds: 'New Rave was like the 60s – if you can remember it then you weren't there'

He had to get permission from his mum to be a hard-living rock star in Klaxons, but now he's more interested in 10k runs and wedding songs

Hi Jamie, how have you been?

Great, I've been cracking on!

Your second album was famed for taking a long time (1) … but this third one (2) has taken even longer!

That's true, yeah. We were very particular with it. I think this time we knew what we wanted. With the second record it was very much off the cuff, whereas with this one we were clear that we wanted to make an electronic dance record. From our very first track we said we were subversive pop musicians and I think we remembered that while making this record.

What strange influences went into this?

It's about us being honest about our position. It's songs inspired by the group and our experiences. The inspiration was probably the making of the record. The first record was a lot about objects, whereas this one is about ideas. And it's more openly emotionally and personal.

What techniques did you use?

We dived into the Oblique Strategies at times. With guitar playing, particularly. One of my favourite things is "Listen outside the room". You think "I don't quite know what's wrong with this" but if you step outside the studio all of a sudden it starts to make sense.

When you first emerged as new rave (3) scene leaders people talked about you being a dance band, but you weren't really, were you?

No, we lied – we were a punk band. We used dance influences but in a punk-band setting. Now the punk thing isn't so much there. It was quite a big learning curve. In 18 months we went from opening up a laptop and literally not knowing what it did to being able to self-produce our own single. But we went in with the absolute masters (4) and they showed us how they went about their business!

Your early shows were pretty chaotic – how much of a shambles were you back then?

Oh, we were awful! We were literally rolling around on the floor unable to play our instruments. There were times I would be yelling at the sound man because I thought it was his fault – then I'd realise I hadn't actually plugged my guitar in. An absolute car crash, but brilliant, too.

You were known for being equally wild offstage – did you ever worry the drug stories overshadowed talk about your music?

I don't know if it overshadowed anything. I think it was just something we were happy to be open about and it came as part of the package. We were encouraged [to talk about drugs]. It was like: "You guys are wild, let's run with it!" And we were cool with that. My mum gave me the all clear and we went with it.

Hang on … your mum gave you permission to be a debauched pop star?!

Yeah! She knew how it was. We talked about it recently, actually. She said: "You were a party band, that was what you were doing." I thought, Mum, this is incredible, thank you!

Did your parents ever read features about you taking ayahuasca(5)?

There were some frowns, particularly from my dad, over that. There were definitely conversations to be had. But I think my mum especially realised it was more about personal spiritual growth than me getting absolutely battered.

Looking back, was it really about spiritual growth?

I believe so, yeah. We definitely progressed as human beings. We're not the wild car crash we were.

What's the most inappropriate place you've ever been off your head?

God, the list goes on. New Rave was like the 60s – if you can remember it then you weren't there.

How healthy are the band these days?

Tip top! Simon has recently run a marathon, in just over four hours, so he's become my absolute hero and now I'm on that tip too. I did my first 10k last week.

How did it make you feel?

It's fair to say I'm becoming addicted to endorphins. My legs are killing me though, because I broke one leg and dislocated the other knee. The broken leg was from jumping off stage in France. So I was wary about getting involved. But I got the right gear, got some shoes and knee supports, and now I'm out there loving it.

Did you go the full hog and buy awful-looking running shoes?

They're a branded, multicoloured running shoe with additional support for my knees.

Does a pop star get self-conscious while out jogging?

Yeah, I don't need that. My method is: don't look anyone in the eye, straightforward, crack on with it.

So are Klaxons' wild days over?

We're still a party band. But how much, really, are you going to have a mad one when you're putting another 10k in the next morning?

Did fame mess with your head?

Maybe for a couple of months I stopped getting the tube. I didn't like being recognised as that bloke off my face on the television. But it was a very short-lived period.

How do you view the second album, produced by nu-metal overlord Ross Robinson, now?

I just love it. All of our albums are actually pretty similar, it's just the production that's different. Our songwriting is always the same. With the second record there's a need to show that we weren't chancers, that we could play our instruments.

You were seeing a shaman around the making of that record. Is that something you're still doing?

I haven't for some time. I moved on and remembered I'm a musician and concentrated on that. He's still doing his thing, healing people. People come to him with all sorts of different problems, from physical to emotional problems, and he deals with those through silent meditation. It's very interesting. But for me I had to remind myself I'm first and foremost a musician and I need to crack on with that. I think something along those lines could be right for me later in life.

My colleague Harriet on the music desk says that you once came up to her in a pub and shouted "What would be the first dance at your wedding?" in her face. She's still wondering why ...

Really? Was it during the time a lot of my friends were getting married? I'm always looking for that killer tune.

I don't feel like there's a Klaxons first dance yet written.

Yeah, good shout. Maybe we need to focus on that, and we were thinking a Christmas version of Show Me a Miracle would be good too.

I hope you're not just going to lazily throw some sleigh bells over the top of it …

That's what E17 did and it worked an absolute killer.

James Righton and Keira Knightley
James Righton and Keira Knightley: Keira does the dancing. Photograph: JABPromotions/REX/Rex Features Photograph: JABPromotions/REX/Rex Features

What was the first song at James [Righton's] wedding to Keira Knightley (6)

I don't remember, but I do remember us crowdsurfing him to Lucky Man by the Verve. There was a crowdsurf at the wedding! We also sang James's favourite song. We chose What a Day for Me by Harumi because he loved that song and lyrically it means a lot. I also changed some of the words to be more appropriate for a wedding. It was probably the most petrifying gig I've ever done but it seemed to go down very well seeing as nobody knew that song before.

Was it more nerve-wracking than a big concert?

Of course. There's no microphone. It's very immediate and you're looking to make people very happy and hoping that it happens. Luckily it did.

Has Keira had a chance to contribute musically to the band?

It's more on a dance level, you know what I mean? She contributes via dance.

So you can tell if a track works by her reaction?

Exactly, as played during soundchecks.

What you're saying here is that Keira Knightley is the testing ground for all Klaxons material?

[Tentatively] Yeah ... I think maybe A New Reality got the best reaction.

What kind of moves did she break out to that?

Erm … just moves … as you'd imagine. [Laughs]. Oh God, you've stitched me up, I shouldn't be talking about Keira!

OK, let's end on these rumours I've heard about your forthcoming reggae and country directions …

We've already made Roll Me a Miracle, which is the dub version of Show Me A Miracle. And our new drummer came up with the genius idea of getting the Easy Star All-Stars (7) to make a version of our debut called Spliffs Of the Near Future. I've got to say, I think he's on to something.


(1) Surfing the Void arrived three years after 2007's Myths of the Near Future.

(2) Love Frequency – out on 16 June – arrives four years after 2010's Surfing the Void.

(3) Every teenager in Britain went flourescent for about five months in 2007.

(4) The Chemical Brothers' Tom Rowland produced the record. Erol Alkan, Gorgon City and James Murphy were also involved.

(5) A psychedelic brew that induces vomiting and wild hallucinations in those who drink it.

(6) The couple tied the knot in 2013.

(7) Reggae collective who produce covers albums such as Dub Side of the Moon and Radiodread.


Tim Jonze

The GuardianTramp

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