Interview: The Blinders

The Blinders

Words and Photos: Gary Lambert

It was an unseasonably warm Manchester afternoon, and I was sat in my car with the windows up feeling like I don’t know what. I had just finished my interview with The Blinders and my mind was blank like a What The Fuck bomb had gone off in my head. I sat there trying to work out why I felt like this, and the answer was obvious. The Blinders. I truly believe that I’ve never met anybody who had created such an intensity before. It wasn’t like our conversation had been difficult. Far from it. Listening back to the recording, I can’t remember an interview I spoke so little as the band produced detailed answers from the slightest question. The band were not awkward either, they were happy to pose for my photographs and even leave their rehearsal room to take some photos in the sunshine outside. It was the aura they have about them.

Just from being in the company of The Blinders, you know that music is not a cheap ticket to a fun couple of years. It is serious and important, and they take on their responsibilities towards that. We met in an old brick building that seemed to be thousands of miles away from the glass towers of the city centre, but was in reality only a few streets away. Quite symbolic of the oxymoronic sound of The Blinders as they create brooding tempests of pleasure like an Argentinian Tango performed by a heavy metal band. It is far closer to everybody else than you expect.

The band were in fine fettle and had seemed to be enjoying themselves in the studio preparing for their forthcoming tour. “We’re just in the middle of our rehearsals so we’re really good at the moment. These shows are going to have evolved into more of a performance than just a gig running through the songs. We have lots of conceptual ideas that we are now able to put into practice. Just because of the nature of the larger stages and the production values that we’ve been allowed to commit to. We know that people have more expectations and we want to please the crowd in that way.

“It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a while, but on the last tour we were inbetween venues so it limited the production. But on this tour every venue is roughly the same size and relatively same space so we are able to have a consistent set up with these production values”

There is one obvious highlight on the tour as The Blinders play a hometown (musically, the lads are from Doncaster) show at o2 Ritz in Manchester. Asking them about that night made them noticeably excited, “that gig is going to be the keystone of the tour. It’s not the first night we play on the tour either so we should be nice and warmed up and well oiled. We could have done with the night off after that one, but we are off to play Glasgow the next day…”

If you haven’t listened to it yet, The Blinders’ debut album, Columbia, was one of the musical highlights of last year and deservedly hit critical acclaim. If I remember correctly (and I do), it was the best day for new music of last year as they dropped that album at the same time as Black Honey released their debut, and the latest albums of Christine and The Queens, and Suede also came out. Midnight was well worth waiting for to hit play.

“The response we had from the album made us very pleased. Given the nature of how early on in our career we have released it, it was a bit different. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. The album has allowed us to set ourselves within the music world. It’s been nice for the fans too to be able to listen to the songs at home that we had been playing live for a while”.

As with almost every debut album, there can be a lot of time between the writing of a song to the point of release. “It’s difficult relating to yourself stylistically with some of the songs that had been written when we were seventeen, you can re-energise them and putting a current twist on them. But we hold no grudges to any songs. Well maybe I regret writing Ramona Flowers when I had a serious hangover in my university dorm. But playing them live is never a chore as they’re fan favourites. Rehearsing them might be a bit heavy going because you’ve played them for years, but the crowd reaction to them energises you so much”.

If you go to watch The Blinders live then there is a good chance you’ll see Thomas Haywood leading the band in his war paint. It might seem simple, but as a fan it makes everything seem more exciting and dangerous. I had to ask about it as it is one of my favourite things in live music at the moment. “It came in at a particular show, Deaf Institute in Manchester. We wanted to make things look a bit different as we were releasing a single, so we came up with the idea of covering my face in war paint. And it’s never really left us. The feeling you get when you play behind the mask is something else too. You get a sense of performance and allowing yourself to leave your mindset. I think that is incredibly important for performing live. It is certainly a way to knock all self-consciousness away. It won’t be here for our entire career though. It’s one person at the moment, and there will be another person somewhere else along the line”

As well as having The Ninth Wave supporting them on the tour (one of Popped Music’s favourites), the tour will also see The Blinders bringing along representatives from Safe Gigs For Women. It is obvious that there should not be a need for such an organisation, but we applaud them for what they are doing. Music should be inclusive and joyous. It is something that The Blinders are particularly passionate about.

“This is something that feels very natural to be a part of. In fact, it should be something that everybody gets behind especially musicians. When you’ve got the platform to branch people out by bringing them to our shows. You’ll find them at all of our UK gigs with a stall set up and donation boxes. Dig deep to assist them. If there is a positive that you can take from the recent issues that have occurred at some gigs, then it is that people are now feeling that they can say something about it and we can all start to stamp it out. There is a long way to go, but it is improving. It should be that people of all races, genders, creeds and sexualities should be able to come along to gigs and enjoy themselves”.

I think you should try to get hold of a ticket for this tour as The Blinders are lining up something special, and they want everybody to enjoy it.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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