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Brits Bloc Party ready to celebrate end of two-year hiatus

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The party is back on.

After a two-year hiatus, the members of British indie-rock band Bloc Party are together again with a renewed sense of purpose, says frontman Kele Okereke.

"It's got to be fun or what's the point?" he says over the phone from his London, England home. "Getting back together felt nice -- it felt the way it always felt. It's always come quite instantly for us, but we haven't made a record together for four years, so there was no guarantee how things were going to work out and once we got together the magic was still there."

Bloc Party made a big noise with the release of its Mercury Music Prize-nominated, million-plus-selling 2005 debut Silent Alarm. By the time the band finished the touring cycle of its third electronic-leaning album, Intimacy, in 2009, the band members were feeling anything but intimate and found they had grown apart. They decided to take a one-year break from each other and the grind of the business to figure out if being together was going to work.

"We didn't know necessarily we would get back together; there was no plan. We needed to take some time and at the end of that year if someone had said they didn't want to do it we wouldn't have done it, but there was no way to know until we had that time off," Okereke says.

During the time off, Okereke released a solo album, The Boxer, and wrote a book of short stories, which should be published next year.

Both guitarist Russel Lissack and bassist Gordon Moakes formed side projects during the break -- electronic rock duo Pin Me Down and post-hardcore band Young Legionnaire, respectively -- while drummer Matt Tong moved to New York and took a break from music.

The band members met at the end of 2010 and decided they would work together again, but take another year off since they were busy with their various music projects, Okereke says.

"A year apart was enough time to rejuvenate. I got a renewed sense of everything: I got a renewed perspective, renewed vigour," he says.

"It was interesting being the sole creative force behind my record, being responsible for the artwork, videos, interviews, the music, everything. It made me think differently about the role of the artist -- it should all come from you or there's no point."

When the band regrouped, they took more control of every aspect of the business, from website design and the album artwork to the vision of the video for Octopus, the first single from the new album, Four, which jettisons the electronic experimentation they explored on Intimacy and gets back to the guitar-oriented sound of Silent Alarm.

"We wanted to make something that sounded like the four of us in a room together. We haven't really made a record that didn't rely on the studio to embellish things, or double the guitars. We wanted something a bit leaner," Okereke says.

Bloc Party will bring their stripped-down sound to Winnipeg Sunday when they play the Burton Cummings Theatre with San Francisco punk act Ceremony. Tickets are $42.25 and $46.25 at Ticketmaster.

"I see it as a continuation. I don't see it as a new start. I think every record is a new start; it's something new you want to say in a different way. I don't see this record as being ground zero, or year zero," he says.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2012 E7

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