Russell Lissack is a musician, not a politician. He’s a guitarist, a vegetarian, a lion-bite survivor, a producer, and, doubtlessly, many things good and bad to his friends and family. But to the public, he’s a member of Bloc Party, a touring guitarist with Ash, his favorite band as a teenager, and half of electronica band Pin Me Down. He says that’s all more than good enough to be known as.
The topic of musicians’ public politics comes up in a conversation ahead of Bloc Party’s upcoming show in Lawrence. When the band released "Four," its first album in as many years, last year, the music-press talk was about the dancey British indie group’s long hiatus, individual side projects and decision not to renew an offer for a recording contract — surely the recipe for a band breakup. But with their 2005 debut, with its song-titles like “Price of Gas” and press blitz smack in the middle of heady times in the U.S. and U.K., a lot of the talk was about that P word — politics.
But don’t take it so literally.
“Why would the general public want to listen to a drunken guitarist's take on politics?” he says. “Personally, music just has nothing to do with politics for me. It’s completely separate interests.”
He’s just not qualified to talk about his views, he says, though he’s happy to talk about his eight-year commitment to vegetarianism, to a point.
“It’s not something I’m asked about often, but I’m perfectly happy to talk about,” he says. “It’s personal, too — at the time, I had what turned out to be a minor health scare, but it woke me up to a really bad diet, a lot of rubbish. … I read "Fast Food Nation" and thought about factory farming, where food comes from, that a lot of people just don’t think about it and I don’t think that’s great.”
At the risk of sounding cliche, most reviewers seem to agree that "Four" is a return to form — not that Bloc Party deviated much from their energetic neo-post-punk sound, but they’re likely giving what the 2005-era fans desire.
After such an extended break “that, yeah, I think was probably good for us,” they’re working on new material together on tour, Lissack says, but taking it as it comes.
“We’ve been trying some new songs live, but it’s a bit hard,” he says. “We might try to get into a studio and maybe release a single or EP. It’s hard to take that time on tour, but we’re still feeling creative.”
Bloc Party plays at Liberty Hall, 644 Mass., on Sunday, with doors open at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $26.50 and still available. It’s an all-ages show.