Kill Them With Kindness

Album: Ultra Mono (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • This song starts off with some gentle piano performed by jazz-pop musician and radio presenter Jamie Cullum before exploding into a sonic assault.

    Idles frontman Joe Talbot first met Cullum at a Mercury Music Prize event when The Idles was shortlisted and he was on the judging panel. Back in the day when the singer worked as a kitchen porter he used to enjoy listening to his BBC radio show. "I'm a genuine fan," Talbot told Mojo magazine. "Met him at the Mercury, and then he got in contact - 'If you ever need any piano...?' He sums up what Idles is about: only working with people that work hard, do what they love and mean it. Jamie Cullum is that guy. It's like the most polite BBC Radio 2 middle finger I can give to everyone."
  • Talbot admitted it will annoy some fans that the Bristol punks included Jamie Cullum on the song; he explained to Kerrang! magazine he likes the way the Radio 2 DJ handles himself in the public eye. "The inclusion of Jamie personifies what we're about, which is the idea that kudos is cancer," he said. "Kudos, to me, is Stockholm syndrome; the route of all success is working hard for what you love, and he does that. I want to be surrounded by Jamie Cullums, not the naysayers."
  • The song features nursery rhyme lyrics about using compassion and benevolence to defeat the oppressors.

    It doesn't mean you have to bow, or say "Your Highness"
    Just kill 'em with kindness
    If you wanna beat the machine, keep your teeth clean
    And kill 'em with kindness


    Talbot explained to Apple Music that he wrote the lyrics after meeting Cullum. "It was just that idea that he seemed kindhearted," he explained. "Kindness is a massive thing: It's what empathy derives from, and kindness and empathy is what'll kill fascism. It should be the spirit of punk and soul music and grime and every other music."
  • The Idles recorded the song for their third studio album Ultra Mono, which finds them reuniting with their previous record's producers, Nick Launay (Talking Heads, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Cave) and Adam "Atom" Greenspan.
  • Directed by James Carbutt and animated by Pip Williamson, the video features cartoon versions of the band. Carbutt said: "The dingy pub setting in the film is based on the Working Men's Clubs of my hometown (Barnsley). It was nice to imagine Idles bursting in and spreading a message of love."

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