In these times of double dip depressions, rising unemployment and a bleak outlook it is good to know that the Blackout are out striving to cheer up the nation.
Having just released their latest album ‘Start The Party’, which is a collection of the bounciest songs known to man, the guys have embarked on a low key nationwide tour to bring the party to the masses. I caught up with the band on their Edinburgh date and got the low down on the album and more from frontman Gavin Butler –
DW - I am in the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh and have been joined by Gavin Butler from The Blackout, how are you ?
GB – I’m very good, thanks.
DW – You are back on tour once more and the start of the tour has coincided with some Arctic weather, has the snow caused any issues so far ?
GB – Our first show was planned to be in Bridgend but that got cancelled by the promoters as they had shut the M4 into Bridgend and no one could get in or out . There was some snow in Newcastle last night and some of the kids couldn’t get to the show, but not as disastrous as Bridgend.
DW – I believe the Bridgend date has been rescheduled.
GB – Yeah. We have two days off at the end of the tour then we play the rescheduled show.
DW – In true Blackout style you have started the tour off quietly with three shows in two days! How did the matinee show go in Glasgow ?
GB – Hard work [laughs]. We haven’t played a show since October, so the first shows back were the two in one day which hasn’t done my throat any good, I’m suffering terribly at the moment. The Glasgow night show has been the best of the tour so far, hard work getting thrown in at the deep end.
DW – The main feature of this tour is the return to smaller venues, I it take it this was done on purpose to introduce the new album to the fans before moving to the bigger scale ?
GB – Yeah. With the new album coming out when it did and the tour coinciding with it ,it was better to do the smaller venues. It is cool to do smaller venues, with people in your face and see the sweat hopefully if everyone warms up enough [laughs].
DW – The new album is obviously the main feature of the tour. It was released yesterday and I have been lucky enough to have a listen to it for a couple of weeks. A fantastic album, are you happy with the results ?
GB – It’s strange as we had the finished album back in June maybe, so we have been sitting on it for six months so it doesn’t feel that new to us anymore. It’s good just to get it out there now and the response has been phenomenal.
It’s always strange with a new album, especially with Start The Party which is not so much a direction change than something different in certain places. I think though that everyone has got what we were going for, unashamed party anthemic rock songs really, that are not too complicated or deep.
DW - Was this a conscious move after the last album’ Hope’ where some of the tracks were ‘deeper’ as you say ?
GB – Not so much conscious move. We returned from the ‘Hope’ tour and with that whole record being recorded when we were unsure even if we had a record label to get the record out.
We were just buzzing and were in such a positive mind frame as it was a massive flip turn for us that we thought, although we didn’t need to write an album for six months, instead of sitting around for six months we would just get together and do some songs. Once we started with Start The Party we just went with it and it stands as it is today.
DW – Listening to the album I think it is a record that the world needs at the moment, just unadulterated fun.
GB – That was another reason, other bands are writing about how shit the world is today, which it is in fairness. It is nice though to have a bit of escapism for a while.
DW – You had planned to do signing sessions on tour which were going to be in HMV stores, but they were announced the day before the demise of HMV was announced, not that I am blaming The Blackout for that [laughs].
Where does a band like The Blackout stand on losing the likes of HMV who are the last big High St retailer for CD’s and the like, is it a major blow for you ?
GB – I can’t remember the actual figure but someone in our camp said that HMV count for around 20% of our physical album sales which is a big amount and that’s just my band.
Then again people are saying ‘I can’t believe HMV are going’ but at the same token they were probably responsible for countless independent record stores going under. If anything, this may give independents more of a chance if they are the only places selling CD’s and there is a move back to vinyl so they are not quite dead yet.
DW – The first two tracks released from Start The Party, the title track and Running Scared, had videos filmed in Ibiza. Was this the band’s decision to go there or the record company’s ?
GB – [laughs] It was totally our decision. The video for Start The Party starts in my garage on a freezing cold day acting out what was done and although we have loved all the videos we have done, but doing them is another thing.
One was in a field getting the back of our legs burnt by fire and another was in a warehouse in Bolton in freezing water all day in your clothes. With the vibe of the album we thought let’s go somewhere we can have a massive house party, someone suggested LA but we contacted Pritchard, who is here today, who organises boat parties in Ibiza. We managed to sell it to the record label who said as long as you shoot two at the same time we could do it, which sounded like a fair deal.
DW – Whilst doing some research for today I was surprised to find out that 2013 is the band’s tenth anniversary. Did you ever expect to get this far ?
GB – We didn’t expect to be signed to a label at all. We started out as something to do, pretty much, we saw a bunch of other people doing it and thought ‘we could do that’. We all love music, singing and playing guitars and stuff but we never set out to make a career from it we just set out as a hobby, something we love to do.
It’s weird looking back at some of the things we have achieved, playing with some of our idols and meeting most of the rest. Literally the phrase ‘living the dream’ does come to mind.
DW – The first Time I saw the band was a couple of years ago supporting My Chemical Romance in the SECC in Glasgow. What impressed me most that night was how quickly you won over the crowd which I put down to the band’s on stage rapport. When you are on stage is it something you set out to do, to have that rapport, or is it just a bunch of friends having a lark ?
GB – You have got to try and connect with the audience, as clichéd and arty farty as that sounds, but you do have to grab their attention especially on shows like that where those kids aren’t there to see you at all. I think it’s something we find easy to do, with Sean he is one of these personalities that people love to hate or love to love. He is not afraid to say what he wants to get people’s attention. It would be weird to go on stage and play an entire set without talking to the crowd.
DW – After this tour you are heading out in Europe with Yellowcard I believe and after that you are heading to Australia for the Soundwave festivals. How did that come about ?
GB – We played it two years ago. The guy who runs Soundwave, AJ, is a massive Liverpool fan as is Snoz our drummer and the two of them got talking on Twitter. I wouldn’t want to say that was the reason, a love of Liverpool [laughs]. It is an amazing tour and to get asked to go back again is great. It is like Reading and Leeds but in four different cities and it doesn’t rain! We get four or five days off as well to go surfing and stuff which is great.
DW – After that what are the plans for the rest of the year, more festival plans ?
GB – At the moment our booking agent is travelling the world, by the sounds of it, living it up on his cut of our money [laughs]. He is back next week and will start looking at our festival runs and sorting things out, but nothing confirmed at the moment but we would like to play as many as we can.
DW – Do you have any final messages for your fans for the rest of the year ?
GB – Just check out the album if you haven’t already and if you have, thank you very much!
DW – Thanks very much for talking to us and hope all goes well with the tour and the album.
GB – Thanks, no worries.
Interview by David Wilson.
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