Formed in New York in 2002, Battles origins exist firmly within the indie rock subgenre known as ‘math rock’ – so named thanks to its proclivity towards complex time signatures. Something of a supergroup of experimental musicians, its membership initially comprised Tyondai Braxton, Ian Williams (formerly of Don Caballero and Storm & Stress, famous for his finger-tapping guitar style, often while simultaneously playing keyboards), John Stanier (ex-drum powerhouse for alt metallers Helmet), and Dave Konopka (previously of the band Lynx).
Their first release was EP C in June 2004, swiftly followed that summer by another pair of shorter records entitled Tras and B EP. Battles signed with Sheffield’s Warp Records in 2005, famous for its commitment to forward-thinking electronic acts such as Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, and the 12 tracks across the first three releases were collected the following year on the EP C/B EP compilation.
Recorded with producer Keith Souza, the band released Mirrored in 2007, their debut full-length and the first time their records had explicitly featured vocals. Including the landmark single Atlas (described by this publication as “Crazy Frog for the avant-garde set”), the record prompted a significant wave of critical acclaim, with Battles making their UK TV debut on Later With Jools Holland and appearing on the front cover of The Skinny in April of that year. In 2010, the band announced that Braxton had left the band, and guest singers including Gary Numan and Boredoms’ Yamantaka Eye were recruited for their 2011 follow-up. “It's Gloss Drop's sense of playful optimism that augurs most auspiciously for this band's future,” we said of their sophomore effort, with the single Ice Cream proving to be another popular track. A series of 12” remix EPs were subsequently released, later collected as Dross Glop and featuring album tracks reimagined by Shabazz Palaces and Hudson Mohawke.
In 2015 the band’s third LP La Di Da Di was released by Warp, this time without guest vocalists. While less generously received than previous efforts, The Skinny remarked that “opening track The Yabba, a bonkers rock opera in about eight movements, is as astounding as anything the band have committed to wax.”
Battles Band Members
Ian Williams (guitar, keyboards)
Dave Konopka (bass, effects, guitar)
John Stanier (drums)
Tyondai Braxton (guitar, keyboards, vocals – 2002-2010)
Battles have released three albums. Their first official single was Tras in June 2004, released via Cold Sweat Records, which followed their debut EP C, which Monitor Records had put out earlier that month. These two releases were compiled alongside the subsequent B EP on the Warp-released compilation EP C/B EP.
Bad Trails and Leyendecker (both from Mirrored) featured on the soundtrack to UK teen drama Skins, with the former also appearing in the 2009 film Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt. Battles also submitted a new track entitled The Line for use in the 2010 teen vampire film Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Dross Glop (2011)
EP C/B EP (2006)
Battles Past Tours, Awards & Nominations
Battles have toured the world extensively, appearing at festivals including Glastonbury, Coachella and Primavera along the way. In December 2011, the band were invited to co-curate All Tomorrow's Parties' Nightmare Before Christmas weekender, alongside Les Savy Fav and Caribou. Acts chosen by the trio included Flying Lotus, Gary Numan, Bitch Magnet and Washed Out.