Last Night All My Dreams Came True marks a farewell gesture from former LiS cover stars Wild Beasts, so Danny Wright gathered Gemma Samways and Lee Wakefield to look back, look forward and talk all things WB…

First up: how do you feel about Wild Beasts? Were you sad when you heard the news about them calling it a day?
Lee: I’ve been a big fan since I unwittingly saw them at Reading 2010 while waiting for Kele’s solo show on the NME stage. I’ve always thought they were extremely consistent with every album and, despite Mercury nods, always underrated.
Gemma: Agreed. I’ve loved them since Two Dancers, and every album since has pushed their sound forward. They remain totally unique voices. And I think they’re still capable of polarising opinion, which I love. They will be hugely missed.

Did you both enjoy Boy King?
Lee: I wasn’t keen at first, I thought they’d lost some of their intimacy, but it really grew on me and the songs are ridiculously catchy and atmospheric. In hindsight it feels like a crowning glory to bow out on.
Gemma: It was predatory and guitar-heavy, and so felt quite a leap away from Present Tense, but it wasn’t necessarily an unwelcome development. It’s probably the Wild Beasts album I go back to least, but hearing songs like ‘Celestial Creatures’ here alongside ‘All The King’s Men’ – in the context of a compilation which is essentially a live set – really helps you realise they’re all good songs.

Which leads me nicely on to a question about whether it was a good idea to make it a ‘live studio album’?
Lee: I definitely agree with Gem about the strength of the tracks on this compilation. I would’ve personally liked some more oldies but it’s a pleasure to hear a band demonstrating how strong they are live on their farewell.
Gemma: 100%. They’re such an incredible live band, it makes sense for their swan-song to celebrate that, and this is a great demonstration of that. It’s not my dream set list (I would have enjoyed more Smother material, personally) but it was never going to be super-nostalgic, was it?
Lee: What I’ve loved about them is all there: those unique drum patterns, the electronic flourishes, those glorious voices entwined.
Gemma: There’s a sense they’re holding nothing back. It’s a great eulogy.

You’ve both answered my next question about whether it’s a fitting document to them as a band. What’s one song you wish was on there that isn’t?
Gemma: ‘End Come Too Soon’. But maybe that’s too fitting, bordering on cheesy?
Lee: As it’s so Boy King heavy, I’d like ‘Ponytail’ on there as well.
Gemma: And ‘Plaything’ to raise the smut quota. I’m going to miss them so much.
Lee: My mum is heartbroken too, Gem. She’s a huge fan. We’re going to the farewell show together.
Gemma: See you there! I’ll hug your mum during the gig.
Lee: Thank you! She’ll appreciate the support.

Do you think you’ll feel emotional at that show – or do you think they’ll get back together in two years time?
Gemma: I think so, simply because they occupy such a unique space – nobody sounds like them. And they’re uniquely British, in the best possible sense. To know that’s the last time you’ll hear Hayden and Tom’s voices intertwined… I have no idea what they’ll do next. If they do reform in two years I’ll probably go to the show.
Lee: As much as I’ll miss them, I’d rather they didn’t cash in. This feels suitably fitting. But yeah, I’d still go to the reunion! Everything feels like it’s clicked into place and they’re going out on their own terms – which they’ve done their whole career.

The press release talks of a sense of prescience about topic about toxic masculinity and gender fluidity. Do you think they were ahead of their time in some ways?
Gemma: Definitely. They were broadly fixated on sex and power, but not in an alienating, macho way. I think a lot of that came down to the language used and their turn of phrase.
Lee: 100% agree. I listened to a lot of crap guitar bands when I first heard Wild Beasts and they were a breath of fresh air in every way, including those lyrical themes. It really blew my mind as I started pinpointing my musical tastes.
Gemma: Do you want to name and shame those bands?
Lee: Anything on that Reading 2010 line-up tbh. Considering I was mainly there for the Libertines reunion and left a Wild Beasts fan!

What’s your favourite song or memory of them? I can’t get past ‘All the King’s Men’ but it seems so obvious.
Gemma: I remember seeing them do Smother in full at The National’s ATP – that’s a pretty fond memory. And for a song, I really love ‘All The King’s Men’ too. It’s totally over-dramatic and flamboyant and melodic and perfect.
Lee: I always think of a ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’.

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