Not strangers to the Brighton music scene in any way, Public Service Broadcasting returned to the city as the support act for the Kaiser Chiefs. Having played The Haunt, The Hope, Concorde 2 and Green Door Store to name just a few, now the Brighton Centre stands as another venue to add to this list. “Brighton’s a culturally-open sort of place,” frontman J Willgoose, Esq. tells me. “So I’d like to think that people are sort of receptive here to ideas and experiences.” He’d be right about the receptiveness of the Brightonians as from their last three tours the Brighton dates have always been the ones to sell out first. Now the pair are on the verge of releasing their second album as we speak.
The method behind the madness is fairly simple; Willgoose and band-mate Wrigglesworth heard there was some BFI material going online so used this resource to develop an album. A few critically acclaimed EPs later and Public Service Broadcasting released their debut album ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’. Although they tend to get thrown into the indie-rock and alternative genres, the duo don’t sonically limit themselves, a fact that is evident on the recent funk-inspired single ‘Gagarin’. The song is an ode to the Russian cosmonaut who became the first human in space, with its video featuring street dancing in spacesuits.
Preceding their second album ‘The Race for Space’, ‘Gagarin’ doesn’t sound like anything on Public Service Broadcasting’s debut, something Willgoose says was intentional: “[the songs on the second album] need to be of a level that establishes you… there’s a lot of things we’ve done for the first time on this album.”
Opting to create a concept album around the great space race of the 1960s, a period they described as “the most extraordinary period of history there ever was,” Public Service Broadcasting acknowledge they can never recreate the period, instead deciding to tell their own particular version of events. Willgoose maintains their music isn’t a history lesson and isn’t supposed to explain or mirror the period.
The pair weren’t concerned about the change in sound, trying out new styles meant they weren’t stylistically repeating themselves and it has proven successful for them. Reception has been overwhelmingly positive; ‘The Race for Space’ debuted at Number 11 on the UK charts, besting their debut by ten places, whilst also topping the UK Indie Album Charts. However this isn’t surprising, ‘Gagarin’ had heavy radio play and the video has over 200,000 views on YouTube.
Visually, Public Service Broadcasting are an interesting pair. Willgoose stands a bit taller than Wigglesworth but both have a similar fashion sense (at least today they do). Willgoose says the shielding of their identity is intentional, as neither of them are natural performers. However after seeing the ‘Gagarin’ video I’m not sure whether I believe this! Nevertheless Willgoose maintains it’s good to have a bit of enigma and anonymity: “it’s very easy to over-share these days and I think it’s kind of nice to hold something back.”
Given there is bit of mystery surrounding Public Service Broadcasting’s appearance and neither of them provide vocals on their songs, their performances were an interesting concept to me. Using a slew of video-editing collaborators and even more archival footage, the visual element plays a major part in their live shows. Willgoose even tries his hand at some of the editing, joking the videos with the standard cuts are made by him.
From opening up for the Kaiser Chiefs, to a chart topping album, to their own headlining tour, it seems that 2015 is looking to be an exciting year for Public Service Broadcasting. Still, it’s the little things that make the most impact to them, “it’s nice playing a gig and looking out and seeing people smiling, so just a bit of happiness may be nice.”
Public Service Broadcasting play Corn Exchange on Wed 22 Apr. Their album ‘The Race For Space’ is out now.