INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Ist Ist are a post-punk three-piece from Manchester, comprising of vocalist/guitarist Adam Houghton, bassist Andy Keating and drummer Joel Kay.
Having all had much experience of playing their local music scene, the trio joined forces in 2015 and since then, they have generated quite a buzz in the northwest city with their explosive live performances and a sound that has been compared to legendary fellow Mancunian post-punk outfit Joy Division, and described by Louder Than War as “majestic, haunting and hypnotic.”
Now, the band are eager to spread their wings and hopefully make the same impact on audiences in other places across the country.
I spoke to Andy recently, and this is what he had to say:
How did the band get together initially?
Me and Adam have been playing in bands for nearly ten years. We’d never played with Joel before, but we knew him well from other bands on the circuit.
It just came together towards the end of 2015; we got in a rehearsal room to see what would happen and we went from there.
How did the name Ist Ist come about?
It’s not as interesting as you might think. Maybe you don’t think it’s interesting at all. We were going to call the band Das Ist, but it sounded too industrial, so we went for Ist Ist. It’s probably the worst band name ever, but we’re too long in the tooth to change it.
In your own words, how would you describe your sound?
It’s always difficult describing your own sound, because every band thinks they’re unique. It’s intense, a little bit melancholic, but there’s some strangely uplifting songs as well. We’d rather leave it up to listeners to decide what we sound like.
What are the band’s musical influences?
There’s so many in there. Joy Division, Interpol, Gang of Four, Suuns. We get the Joy Division comparisons a lot and we understand why, but I don’t think we’re wedded to any sound in particular. We’re the first Ist Ist, not the next x, y or z. Every band says that, but most of the time, they’re wrong.
The band’s new single ‘Strangers’ was released recently. How well do you think it has been received so far?
‘Strangers’ has been the best received single we’ve put out to date, maybe that’s because we keep growing as a band, so each time we release something, we have more listeners. We’ve also worked a lot harder on PR and getting it out there this time.
It’s probably our most listener-friendly single as well. I’m not convinced it’s our strongest song or the most Ist Ist song, but it’s gone down well. It’s good when we play it live and people in the crowd are singing the chorus back to you.
Will the single lead to an EP or album in the near future at all?
We were planning on releasing an album towards the end of the year, but that’s on ice for the time being. We could put an album of ten very strong songs together, but it’s whether those ten songs work together or compliment each other.
The art of an album is becoming extinct. Streaming sites are to blame for that because people just want to download their favourite songs and these sites give you the “most popular” songs, so instantly, people gravitate towards them and just listen to those ones. I think you should put an album on and listen to it from cover to cover and not for it to just be a hit collection.
We have a little bit of work to do to put the right songs together, but we’ll get there.
How, for you, is the experience of playing live?
Live has always been where it’s at for us. We tend to use the same sound tech, and we have someone who runs our own light show, so there’s a consistent quality in the live shows. We’re loud and urgent, but there’s still enough melody and enough hooks in the songs.
If you want to understand Ist Ist, then the live show is where you should go. That’s not to diminish our recordings, because they’re solid and very well produced, especially the last two, but live music should always be more exciting than what’s on record.
What has the band got lined up for the rest of the year then?
We’re going to play more out-of-town shows. We’ve not got a lot to prove by playing smaller venues in Manchester. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve conquered those. We’re going to take it on the road and come back to Manchester in the autumn, play some bigger shows, and try to make the step up. Until you attempt to make that jump and play to larger audiences, you’ll never know what your limit is.
We have some festival appearances confirmed, but they’ve not been made public yet, so we can’t announce them until a later date. It’s exciting though, and we’re taking it up a level.