IDLES Frontman Joe Talbot Challenges Masculinity With Punk

Joe Talbot is using the rough edges of punk to challenge toxic masculinity.

“Really, it doesn’t matter what it is to be a man,” he stated. “I think what it means to be a human being is a lot more important. To be a person.”

Talbot is the lead singer of UK band IDLES, who are one of the few bands using the energy of punk to overturn stereotypes of manhood. On the surface, their sound is visceral and violent, but Talbot and the band use that sound to wage a battle against the stigma around men’s mental health issues, grief, and toxic masculinity.

“It wasn’t like a cause and effect thing. I didn’t want to tell everyone things are bad; these things are good. And I get patted on the back for being a really good person,” he said. “Certainly, I have a lot of privileges as a man. More than women. And I think it’s important to appreciate those and to try and use those privileges for the benefits of everyone, which is what I’m trying to do.”

The band also takes on the issue of immigration and xenophobia. One track off their latest album “Joy as an Act of Resistance,” “Danny Nedelko,” is a rallying appreciation of all immigrations in a Brexit-era UK when politicians and far-right figures are stoking the fears of immigrants coming to the country.

“I see it as my duty as a person, as a human to give everyone equal opportunity to have a safe and prosperous life, I guess,” Talbot stated. “I feel that everyone is part of something that comes together and makes something stronger.”