It was in the midst of an extended quarantine during a spate of Covid cases in England in early 2021, and hard rock band Idles themselves were locked up. Locked up for nearly two weeks in Peter Gabriel’s residential Real World Studios in Bath, England, the band worked hard to complete the recording. Crawl, their fourth album, and perhaps their biggest leap to date from what any listener might consider a sound signature for the band.
Prior to entering the studio, Idles had tapped prolific hip-hop producer Kenny Beats (Rico Nasty, Vince Staples), looking for a collaborator to support them in their push beyond their own borders. Kenny is an Idles fan himself – he calls them the greatest band in the world – and he then co-produced Crawling with Idles guitarist Mark Bowen. What came out of their collaborations was an eclectic mix of more familiar heavy rock songs, as well as electronics-tinged tracks like the intro “MTT 420 RR” and the beautiful Motown-style soul of the single “The Beachland Ballroom” .
“We’re not a flatline band that plays the same song over and over again. We explore our passion for different genres all the time, ”said frontman Joe Talbot. “But with this one, with Kenny and because of the grace of time and an allowance to think things over, it was a more fun and forgiving album where we got to really get into what we really love,” that’s not just rock & roll. “
Kenny arrived at the studio 10 days before the group was quarantined; the same week he found out that his father had been diagnosed with cancer. Spending those lonely days in Bath with a 27-hour playlist the band gifted him with music that inspired them, while also answering calls from his family and doctors, he ended up finding the two weeks of ‘recording with the group that followed to be a cathartic escape. “I decided that as soon as they got there, I wasn’t going to do anything but make a fucking classic record out of it,” Kenny says. “If I was anywhere else in the world, other than doing this album with this band, I might have had a breakdown.”