The members of avant-garde, indie rock band Art Brut don’t take themselves too seriously. They enjoy making music and expressing themselves freely; they are detached from the scenester trap of pretentious conformity.
It is this sincerity that makes them so likeable and magnetic, their success is in large part due to their lighthearted approach. Lead singer Eddie Argos’s witty observational lyrics are emphatically endearing and the band’s nonchalant demeanor is a welcome change from the subdued seriousness of the indie scene.
The term Art Brut is used to describe art that is unconventional; it is basically any form of art that is avant-garde and an antithesis of the established order of artistic expression. It is fitting than that the band occupies a rare space in indie music with it’s unique and innovative sound. Art Brut doesn’t try to be different, it just sort of happened. Argos describes the evolution of their sound, “I think it’s the weird combination of all our tastes that make us sound like that. It’s not a conscious decision to be unique; I think it just kind of happened because we’ve got completely different tastes in music from each other.”
The instrumentation is as full as other indie rock band but it is the humor laden spoken word of Argos that sets this band apart from the rest of the scene. He has this unpretentious and nonchalant air about him, which makes him such an enigmatic character. He is charming in his self-deprecating humor and embarrassingly honest confessions. His audience can relate to this character; he isn’t an unapproachable star, he’s your best friend trying to work up the courage to talk to a girl at the bar. Case in point is the hit single “Direct Hit” off of the new album It’s a Bit Complicated where Argos laments about his inability to talk to members of the opposite sex.
Argos is constantly writing and he utilizes a method of dictating messages on his cell phone and saving them for later. He writes the messages in a notebook and then reworks the verses to fit the band’s songs. His inspiration is in his personal experiences, “I might be a bit self obsessed. All of the songs are pretty much about me. It’s really cathartic to write about yourself, to be on stage and talk about your first ever girlfriend or the problems that you had or your worries.” The writing process has particular appeal for him as he explains, “Writing a song is a lot like solving a puzzle, getting it all to fit. I love it.”
Even on the subject of his musical skills Argos is disarmingly open. He describes his artistic path with a great deal of levity and honesty, “I tried to learn the guitar, couldn’t do it, so I tried to learn the bass, couldn’t do it. I bought a clarinet and I couldn’t play that either. I’m not very good with instruments. I thought ‘fuck it I’ll be the singer’.”
He knew he wanted to be a musician since he was very young. His inability to hold down a regular job led him in that direction as well. Before the success of Art Brut he was involved in a variety of ill-fitting jobs. He enthusiastically details some of his previous positions, “I was a postman; I was pretty bad at that. I am not very good at getting up early and I am always drunk. I was a traffic warden you know like a parking attendant. You have to give out tickets, I was too nice, so I got sacked from that, I let everybody off.”
The band has experienced remarkable success and Argos doesn’t take it for granted. “There are some unusual bands from England that never had the success we’ve had. I see myself in that sort of band. It’s a lovely surprise. I don’t really want to question it because it might go away.” On the other hand he is not afraid of success and ultimately embraces the possibility. “I think every band secretly wants be massively famous. I’d love that. I don’t know how you become massively famous. We’ll just stick to what we’re doing and hope it works out.”
By Shaun Flagg