"Formed a band / We formed a band / Look at us / We formed a
-- Art Brut leader Eddie Argos gleefully proclaims on the
opening track of the band's debut album, "Bang Bang Rock & Roll."
Few bands have ever captured the sheer joy of being in rock band
as effectively as Art Brut, which prides itself on substituting
raucous enthusiasm for technical prowess. Indeed, it takes its name
from the European term for outsider art -- the French phrase
literally translates as "raw" or "rough art" -- though after the
raves they've garnered in the last year, it's getting harder to
accept that Argos, Jasper Future and Ian Catskilkin (guitar), Freddy
Feedback (bass) and Mikey B. (drums) are really as inept as they
"I think maybe without me realizing it, they always could play
very well -- it was just me who was amateur!" Argos grants with the
self-deprecating laugh that punctuates all his conversations. "But
on the new single" -- "Nag, Nag, Nag, Nag," which will be released
in England next week -- "I'm very nearly singing! Before that, the
closest I came was 'Emily Kane.'"
Telling the story of the girl who broke his heart at age 15 --
only one of many in the years to come -- "Emily Kane" is only one of
12 extraordinary tracks on "Bang Bang Rock & Roll," which generally
finds Art Brut's admittedly paunchy and very un-rock 'n' roll
frontman sing-speaking his tales of romantic woe, unbridled ambition
and sibling grief ("My Little Brother") over rollicking but tuneful
Recorded only 18 months after the group formed, the album was
released in the U.K. in the spring of 2005. Word spread across the
ocean and Art Brut developed a cult following that grew after
noteworthy performances at the 2006 South by Southwest Music
Festival, and the disc finally got its official U.S. release around
the time of the band's headlining slot at the Pitchfork Festival
"It's actually pretty weird, looking back at it at the moment,
especially because I'm on painkillers right now; I hurt my tooth, so
I'm on painkillers and antibiotics," Argos says, laughing again.
"But all these things I've done are mad! I'm in Phoenix now, and I
never thought I'd see all these places in America. I didn't really
think about whether our music would translate here, because we
really did start as just a bit of fun between friends, and there was
no real plan. By the time I started worrying about whether people
over here would like it, we were already over here and ... people
were liking it! [Laughs] On the other hand, I don't see why people
wouldn't like it: I think everyone's got little brothers and
ex-girlfriends and new girlfriends. I suppose they all can relate!"
Any worries that the band is a novelty are offset by a new set of
material as strong as the tunes on its debut. The group plans to
record in December for a second album to be released simultaneously
in the U.S. and U.K. next spring, in contrast to the delay last time
around. "That was a bit of nightmare," Argos says, "but it was also
a good trick, because we've been touring the same album for like two
What kind of topics can the group address after a first album
largely devoted to forming a band and settling the score with
"Well, there's always more ex-girlfriends to settle the score
with!" Argos jokes. "But if the first one was kind of like a baby,
this one is a bit more of an adolescent. It's funny being 26 and
still feeling like I did when I was 17: I don't think I've grown up
at all, but I think everyone wants to be like that. The first album
was so full of adolescent concerns -- worrying about your brother
and ex-girlfriends and sexual frustration and stuff -- but ... I'm
still like that now!
"In any event, I have one song about my father's relationship
with his ex-girlfriend, though the more I think about it, it's
really about my relationship with my ex-girlfriend -- I was sort of
projecting. Another is about being lonely, but nobody really likes
songs about being lonely, so I tried to hide it as a football chant.
And then there's one about when you're younger and you've got a
girlfriend and you think it's the most important thing in the world.
You're living together and you think, 'This is it!' All your
thoughts are about her and you're buying things and trying to get
the house together, and then... she just leaves, because you had a
completely different thought than she did!"
Finally, "Nag, Nag, Nag, Nag" is about "having the headphones on
when you're younger. Your parents are telling you off, but you're
listening to your headphones instead of your parents." And the
soundtrack? "Art Brut, needless to say!" But of course.