A running gig

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athlete have matured a lot since they sprung onto the scene in 2003.

Previously pigeon-holed alongside new Brit pop bands Keane and Coldplay, Athlete have splintered and made their own way in the industry.

Instead of going the way of Oasis and Blur, Athlete looked to American influences such as Pavement for inspiration.

Lead singer Joel Pott said: “‘People always want you to fit in with a scene.

“And maybe we’d have done better if we’d become mates with all the bands we were compared to. But we never wanted to be part of anything like that.

“We started listening to a lot of American bands like Pavement and Mercury Rev. It made us start thinking about music in a different way”.

Formed in a pub in Deptford, London in 2001 and five albums later, they have gathered numerous high profile awards and accolades, critical acclaim and a tremendously loyal fanbase and live following.

Their debut album Vehicles and Animals, released in 2003 went platinum in 2005 and earned them a Mercury Music Prize nomination. Follow up Tourist, released in 2005, topped the UK charts, selling more than 500,000 copies and going platinum.

Now, after the band – Joel plus bassist Carey Willetts, drummer Stephen Roberts and keyboardist Tim Wanstall — released a greatest hits “Singles” compilation, they are re-inventing their songs with an acoustic tour.

Known for their songwriting, Wires — based on lead singer Joel’s baby being rushed to intensive care following a premature birth — became a huge radio hit and earned the band an Ivor Novello award for Best Contemporary Song in 2006.

This was a clear indicator of the band’s evolution from early indie hits such as You got the style and El Salvador to darker songs such as Black Swan Song, which was written following the death in 2005 of Joel’s grandfather, a PoW survivor.

But unlike some bands, The Single’s album and the acoustic greatest hits tour is not an end, just a chance for the band to stop and collect itself before a fifth studio album which is set for next year.

Joel added: “This isn’t going to stop for a while yet. After four albums, you wonder what you are going to do next.

“We could work with other musicians, but Athlete still provides the biggest challenge – and the greatest rewards”.

Athlete play their tracklist, stripped back, at The Arches on Saturday from 7pm. Book at www.thearches.co.uk. Tickets from £15.