Culture Clash Extra: Wild Beasts

Hayden Thorpe on Ricky Gervais, Joanna Newsom and Arthur Rimbaud

Our final Culture Clash Extra piece of the year comes from one of the very best British bands of the past twelve months, Wild Beasts.

The band’s ‘Limbo, Panto’ debut album, released via Domino, ranked at 26 in our albums of the year list – pick up the current issue to ee the full top 40 – and just the other week member Tom Fleming informed Clash that the band were busy creating the follow-up, looking to release it sooner rather than later:

“We’ll hopefully be finished just after Christmas. We want it out less than a year after ‘Limbo, Panto’ came out, but once you finish recording an album that’s only the start of it. And we’ve got to get it finished first.”

Read the full interview HERE. Vocalist Hayden Thorpe answers our Culture Clash Extra posers, uncovering his favourite movie and book of the moment, and more…

Wild Beasts – ‘Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants’

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Ghost Town. During the height of ‘The Office’ Ricky Gervais was the icon of my sixth form class room. So much so that close friends started to become him, developing awkward gestures, subtle timings and mastering the famous MC Hammer shit dance just like the great man himself. Worried and disillusioned, I weaned my self off for a while. Ghost Town brought him back to my attention and although the comedy has been watered down a little for big screen American tastes I did enjoy his company again.


Arthur Rimbaud’s ‘Selected Poems and Letters’. At 20 years old Rimbaud was done with poetry. He had exhausted the source, worked the muscle to hard, expended all creative might. Although a shame in some ways, his gamble paid off. His writings are rich and entirely engrossing. Despite being translated from French, what is never lost is that teenage surge of lust, anger, confusion and greed. He has the clarity of youth, without the maturity to make safer sense of it. What comes across is a thick dialect, not too far from Cumbrian, in which bold and vulgar statements are silk-wrapped by beautiful detail.

Then, like a little dead thing,

Your strength quite drained,

you’d ask me to carry you,

Your eye’s half closed.

I’d speak into your mouth

And walk on taking you

Up like a child to bed,

Drunk on blood.

‘Nina Gets Back to Him’


Joanna Newsom’s ‘Ys’. I’ve come to this album late, not really understanding how good she was until a matinee Latitude performance in the summer had me in tears. The album has only five tracks. I adore this rejection of standards and care for how it will come across. The album is essentially made up of five short stories sang with clarity and conviction, the looping melodies turning only when the plot seems fit. She has a classic in her. This isn’t it. But she’s not far off.


Leonard Cohen’s ‘Lover Lover Lover’. A lost song. One that hasn’t been badly covered or over analysed but has been preserved in all its glory. A lesson in songwriting for anyone. The fact that he had three songs on the same album with exactly the same chord sequence and melody as ‘Lover Lover Lover’ suggests he might have felt he was on to something.

Television show or series

‘The Prisoner’. This is an acid-tinged ‘Doctor Who’-like series from the ‘60s which is still heralded today. Our tour manager put it on as we drove across Europe. I was variously intoxicated and drifted off to sleep as the psychedelia became overwhelming. When I woke Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ had been put on. In the mind state I was in I had assumed Prince had just appeared as a cameo in ‘The Prisoner’, which I thought was still playing. This says something about ‘The Prisoner’, Prince and me.


Sir Stanley Spencer at Leeds Art Gallery. Having been involved in World War Two, Spencer returned to his beloved Cookham village and painted scenes of quaint village life which he now came to see as heavenly compared to hell and slaughter of the war. I love the idea of the mundane being angelical and you get a sense of the love and care he had for normal life after his experiences.

Holiday destination

Berlin, Germany. Wild Beasts were there on the weekend. It’s the second time I’ve been this year. A very self-sufficient city, this place has gigs and club nights going on that London would love to have. We stayed on the 23rd floor off the Park Inn Hotel, the tallest building in the city. Even the fact that I hate lifts and only had two hours in my comfy bed didn’t spoil the enjoyment.

Gig venue

Le Bikini, in Toulouse, France. We played there sometime last week. Apparently there was a chemical explosion at the venue, which destroyed the place not so long ago. The French Arts Council, being the French Arts Council, must have invested a lot of Euros in this place. It has a swimming pool, we were fed thick rare steaks after the show and our sound guy said he didn’t have to do anything during the gig such was the clarity the room created.

Live band or DJ

Seasick Steve, in Paris. We played with him while in Europe – he is seriously entertaining with a fascinating character and sense of country that can’t be faked. Steve pulled a teenage girl from the crowd, gave her a flower and sang a love song sweetly to her blushing face. Maybe Paris got the better of him.

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Wild Beasts’ ‘Limbo, Panto’ album is out now and they tour in February – click HERE for tickets.

Previous Culture Clash Extra articles…

We Are The Physics

My Morning Jacket

Emmy The Great



Simian Mobile Disco

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