The Blackout

by
The Blackout
Our own Emily Pratten got to talk to Welsh boys Sean Smith and Gavin Butler from The Blackout. They tell us how no one in the music industry knows how to do their job, that their new single is the best pop-rock record of the last 5 years, and that backstage isn’t as exciting as we all imagine (no strippers anywhere, guys).

How are you feeling about the new album now that you’re playing it live?
S: It’s the worst album that’s ever been written, none of us wrote it, it was all written by Simon Cowell. No, seriously, it’s brilliant actually, we really love it. It’s the favourite we’ve ever done, cliché as that sounds.
G: We released it in January and played a few songs then, and had a festival in the summer and we’re only just touring it now. We’ve not actually played much of it yet which is a bit weird.
: Yeah, we finished it back last year (it was supposed to be a summer album), and then the record label decided not to put it out until January. So that didn’t help. It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but we love it. I personally don’t dislike one song on it.

A few people say that the music has mellowed, others that you have matured. What would you say about the new music in comparison to your older stuff?
S: Go listen to It’s High Tide Baby on our first album – it’s literally the softest puppy shit, and then on this record you’ve got Take Away The Misery, which is fairly heavy.
G: A lot of people just hear the singles and think “Oh, the album’s just going to sound entirely like that”, and don’t really give the album a chance. Silly people.

Is there another album on its way?
S: Yeah, definitely! We’re just gonna get off this tour and start writing really. We haven’t really sat down for a while.
G: A few of us have been writing our own thing but we haven’t sat down and taken a look at that yet.
S: It’s just going to be miserable so that kids like it again!

What do you prefer playing live? Is there anything you dislike playing or prefer playing?
S: Everything early, all the demos we thought no one would hear, they can all die in a fire.
G: (laughs) That’s not because we’re ashamed of them really, it’s because we’re a bit bored of them. People come to your shows and hear it live once or twice a year but we’re playing that three times in a day. The first song, Beijing Cocktail, was released as a single so we did that for live sessions and radio things and gigs and we just played and played it to death. We want to be able to show people the new stuff too, but that’s not always what fans come to the shows for.

What kind of music are you listening to at the moment then?
G: I can’t stop listening to the new Paramore record. It’s amazing. It’s the best pop-rock record I’ve heard in a long time.
S: Umm.. see I don’t really listen to rock anymore, it’s mainly dance music really. There’s this hip-hop group from South Africa called Die Antwoord and they rave and they sing raps – it’s really good and they’re quite funny which is good too. They have an album out at the moment called Tension. It’s well worth having a look at.

It’s been ten years since you first started out. To be really generic here, how has it been?
S: It’s nothing like we thought. I’m over the moon with how we’ve done but it’s really not like how people think. I always thought of backstage as being full of cocaine and strippers but I have not seen any strippers whatsoever.
G: Before being in a band my idea of backstage was garnered from Wayne’s World, and Alice Cooper would always be there. It’s basically just us waiting around to play to be honest.

Has anything surprised you in particular about the industry?
S: No one knows how to do their job!
G: Everyone is just waiting around for someone else to do something and no one really knows what’s going on. It’s strange because when you first start off it really is just about the music, but then as you get going you have to go and see your accountant, and then deal with business.
S: It kind of drains you. Before it was all exciting going to London, but now it’s like “Oh we have to go to London to sign a form and see the accountant”. That bit’s boring.

Are you still making the kind of music you want to be making though?
G: Never back down, never give in.
S: (laughs) Yeah, we’re just making music that we love and if people don’t like it then so what.
G: Some of our friend’s bands, like Kids In Glass Houses and You Me At Six, they often get told what to do a bit by their labels which they try to resist. But we would avoid that.
S: We’ve done an album off our own backs before, we just don’t want that restriction. We are label-less now, thank the lord. It’s back to us again which is great.

And just before we finish up, what’s your favourite song on the set list tonight? What should we be on the look out for?
S: We covered Sorry For Party Rockin’ by LMFAO but that’s not on the set list. But that was great. I think Start The Party, though, is the best pop-rock song of the last 5 years. No doubt. That one.