Victorious Festival 2021: From Kassassin Street to Paradise Club, and now it's third time lucky for Idol State
The members of Idol State have got to be hoping that the third time’s a charm.
Four-fifths of the Portsmouth band once known as Kassassin Street, they were last spotted in public as Paradise Club.
However that name proved to be short-lived.
They played a low-key launch show as Paradise Club in Brighton before a mind-blowing, sold-out hometown show at The Wedge in October 2019.
There were big plans for 2020, and then…
Frontman Rowan Bastable picks up the story: ‘Kassassin Street had kind of dissolved and Paradise Club was ready to go.
‘We had got some tunes ready to put out – we did that Wedge show, and we had already started talking to Jagz (Kooner, super-producer).
‘We just thought, you know what, rather than put songs out now, then have his productions come out, let's just hold on for a couple of months.
‘But then obviously Covid struck.’
The band have been working closely with legendary producer and DJ Jagz Kooner over the past couple of years.
Jagz was part of Sabres of Paradise with the late Andrew Weatherall and is best known for his massively influential work with Primal Scream, among many others.
‘He's become a friend of the band. We met him through (former XFM DJ) Eddy Temple-Morris when we were doing some of the Kassassin shows. It was always on our radar that we might work together, but as schedules happened it never worked out back then.’
When Covid started spreading across the globe, Rowan admits to being in denial at first: ‘But then obviously that started getting serious, so we decided we won't put any music out now.’
Then there was another blow for the band during 2020: ‘Lo and behold there's another band in Australia called Paradise Club who've started to do some pretty big stuff, so we got politely told,’ he gives a wry laugh, ‘to change the band name or face some issues.’
‘We thought, you know what, that's a sign. We've had multiple names and no music released for three years, so I'm sure we're going to to get some stick, but Idol State is who we are now.’
Despite this the band took the period as ‘a positive.’
‘It gave us time to write more music – we've got a bank of about 45-50 songs we're working on with Jagz. Before we went into Covid, it was way less than that.
‘It's started to feel like a new project as Jagz became more involved. We found a new way of working.’
Through the wonders of technology, the various band members and Jagz were able to hook up over Zoom calls and record.
‘There was a lot of stress on our home broadband – and it really annoyed all our housemates who weren’t allowed to watch Netflix while we were doing it,’ he laughs.
‘It felt really exciting that we were overcoming circumstances.’
‘But because we couldn't play live, there was no point trying to break what is effectively a new band during Covid. there was no point in putting any music out if we couldn't do any shows, so we thought let's just wait until this ends.’
Of course, it took longer than expected to get to a point where the band felt ready to release the new material – debut single Gripping At The Handrails was finally released on Monday.
‘The song's been ready to go since April!’ says Rowan. ‘Our plan now is to put a new song out every 10 weeks, and we'll have an endless supply of music.
‘People have waited a long time for us to put out any music. We've waited a long time to put out any music! But it feels great now.
‘We're just going to keep rolling it out for the next couple of years – that's the plan. There's songs ready to go and new songs coming in all the time.
‘Now it really does start.’
Renowned for their live shows in their previous guises, the band – completed by Nath Hill on drums, Ryan Hill on guitars and Andy Hurst on keys – will be making their live debut on the Beats & Swing stage on the Saturday of Victorious Festival.
‘We're really looking forward to it – it's our first show as Idol State, and it's to a home crowd.
‘There’s going to be a lot of songs in there that people haven't heard before and new versions which we've worked on with Jagz, so it's going to be quite a dancey set.’
Picking up where Paradise Club left off, the new material has a more electronic/dance sound than Kassassin Street’s more psychedelic-tinged rock, but they’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
‘It is going to be more dancey than before, but it's still song-based,’ says Rowan.
While Kassassin Street were well-known in Hampshire and had started gaining national attention, the band are pragmatic enough to know that they are in some senses starting over.
‘I'm aware that the world has moved on and we need to come out and prove ourselves again because it's been a while since Kassassin Street – people move on and get into new bands.
‘For us it's about starting again as Idol State and making sure that everyone in town knows who we were – people miss Facebook posts and things like that – I get asked in the street when I'm back home, whatever happened to your band?
‘We're just excited to seeing what people think.
‘I don't feel like we're going to pick up where we were with Kassassin Street – that was a few years ago, this is very much what we're doing as a new band.’
While Idol State is the four core members, when Paradise Club played at The Wedge, they featured several guest musicians, including Jerry Williams and Jim Harding.
‘We're going to have Jerry with us again for Victorious. I'm really excited to get on stage with her again, and Jim’s also joining us again, he was on the percussion last time, so there will be six of us.
‘The core band of us is the four, but when we perform there's definitely enough going on in the music to have more on stage, but we can then also strip it back to the four of us, so when the time comes to start touring again we can all jump in a car and not need the additional people with us.’
Idol State play The Beats & Swing stage at Victorious Festival at 7.10pm on Saturday, August 28.
The festival takes place on Southsea Common from August 27-29.
Adult day tickets from £40, plus fees.
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