In December Indieterria focused on Manchester to showcase you some of the newest artists on their local scene. We had a pleasure to sit down and talk with Witch Fever and Tin Mole. Now, we bring you third interview with a band that grabbed our attention from the first time we heard them on Steve Lamacq show at BBC 6 Music. They are called Ist Ist and we swear they belong to a different era.
Louder Than War magazine described them as “majestic post-punk, haunting and hypnotic”. This four piece blends alternative rock with cold wave elegance and they have been compared to The White Lies and Joy Division. Dark, brooding, mysterious and melodic at the same time, Ist Ist are fiercely independent with disregard for social media and all the hype about networking.
Ist Ist (classic) logo
It was a bit of a challenge to find the right questions to ask but then again music requires effort from listeners and writers alike. So we had to dig around a bit, in an old school way. We questioned mutual friends in Mancunia for tips, went reading through printed interviews in Manchester Evening News in a Central Library and searched though pages of a label that would rather quote poetry than provide you with “about us” segment.
We also went down to Picadilly Records to “argue” to get a copy of the band`s EP on vinyl.
We visited Manc several times from Worcester…
The last time we researched a band like this was when Melody Maker was still a thing. But we loved every minute of the preparations. It only made our admiration for the band stronger. In a world where artists put their entire lives and privacy for everyone to see, Ist Ist are not just a band. Their approach is an act of defiance.
Adam Houghton (vox, guitar)
Andy Keating (bass)
Joel Kay (drums)
Mat Peters (keyboards)
Ist Ist built themselves a reputation as iconic Manchester performers. Can you please introduce yourselves to Indieterria readers?
Andy Keating: We’re Adam Houghton, Andy Keating, Joel Kay and Mat Peters.
You have started out in 2014 and from the very beginning this band is synonymous with complete control of your art: no radio plugger, no label, handling all the group related matters and tours. We were told you don’t have a manager. Yet, you easily sell out such legendary and sizable venues as Gorilla or The Deaf Institute and receive air play on national radio. Steve Lamacq champions you regularly on his 6 Music shows. How important is the DIY ethos to you?
Andy Keating: The DIY ethos is very important. We don’t really know how to operate any other way, either. We seem to appeal to a fan base who don’t want any bullshit and want to get behind a band who are real people making real music they can believe in. At the same time, we’re not without a manager by design, if the right offer came along or the right opportunity to work with a genuine label presented itself, we’d take it.
Ist Ist are also not very fond of self promotion on the Internet. Your social media are limited to announcements regarding tours and upcoming music. No funny posts, jokes or behind the stages shots. You try to keep a distance between your audience and the band. Aren’t you sometimes tempted to break the fourth wall or post something controversial like Slaves for example?
Andy Keating: We’ve never felt like posting something controversial just for the sake of it. What’s the point? If it’s just for sake of it it’s just going to be contrived and unnecessary. With regards to breaking the fourth wall, we like to keep it strictly business online. Bands posting photos posing in Christmas hats? No thanks. Stick to the music. Our fans would attest to us looking after them as best we can, we’ve always got time to sign a record, have a photo, have a chat or whatever at gigs but your online presence should be a snapshot of the band and their image. We’re serious about our music so we’re serious online.
We want to ask you about the visual side of the project. Your videos and photography are limited to the monochrome and all releases feature distinct photography, often of brutalist architecture or strange landmarks. There are other bands in Manchester who also have their own artistic direction but we have to admit, what you put out is the closest thing to what Peter Saville did with releases at Factory Records.
Andy Keating: Thanks, the artwork and style should always compliment the music. The Peter Saville influences are inescapable given where we grew up and what we were listening to when we all started playing instruments as teenagers.
Sleeve and vinyl pressing of EP “Spinning Rooms”, photography by Tom Houghton
You channel FAC also in another way: Ist Ist is yet to release their debut album but your catalogue is huge and highly collectable. You released five singles: “White Swan”, “Night Arms”, “Silence”, “Strangers” and “Right Before Your Eyes”, then followed it up with a single compilation “Prologue” and two live albums “Live at St Phillips Church” and “Live at Manchester Gorilla”. Then in April 2018 you landed your first EP – “Spinning Rooms”. Each release is limited between 100 – 300 copies, on CDs or vinyl. And once the stock is gone, it’s gone. Nobody beside you and maybe Idles cares to release their materials in such collectable formats. What made you take this approach to releasing your music?
Andy Keating: Listening to music should be an experience and much of that is lost with digital streaming. Being on streaming sites like Spotify and iTunes is necessary but it’s not an experience. The art of the album is being lost because of this. Sites like Spotify suggest an artist’s “most popular” songs, so unless you really want to get into a band, you’ll likely only listen to those suggested songs and you may never find some gems which are on earlier EPs or singles.
We wanted listening to music to be fun and something you commit to. Getting hold of a vinyl record and putting it on whilst you look at the artwork and cover notes should be special. Receiving a new record in the post should be special. Streaming sites serve a purpose but they’re not particularly fun.
The limited edition thing works well because people like to be part of something exclusive. There’s some people who’ve bought everything we’ve released and there’s some who maybe came on board around “Spinning Rooms” and missed out on the initial limited runs of singles and want to get their hands on them but can’t.
Ist Ist`s upcoming EP “Everything is Different Now” sleeve and red vinyl pressing. Photography by Tom Houghton
Ist Ist`s upcoming EP “Everything is Different Now” bundle: red and black vinyl pressing and CD. Photography by Tom Houghton
Ist Ist was for most of the time a three piece but recently you added Mat Peters as a permanent member of the band. Do you think your sound changed because of introduction of keyboard into the mix?
Andy Keating: Barring “White Swan” and “Right Before Your Eyes”, every song we recorded in the studio had keyboards or extra on, but we either didn’t use those elements live or we occasionally used backing tracks. After the tour in early 2018 it felt right to bring an extra member in to play keyboards because the new songs demanded them. So the older songs haven’t lost their fundamentals and Mat gave them a lift – but we’ve really developed our sound with him. The new EP will show that.
The release of “Spinning Rooms” was followed by an extensive tour that took you around the country and abroad (playing in Berlin). It also received rave reviews. Nigel Carr wrote in Louder Than War: “This EP will stand as one of the best debut releases by any band; simply stunning”. Are you satisfied with what you accomplished with the record? Would you change/ correct anything on it?
Andy Keating: It’s always a bit of a wasted exercise to deliberate over something which has already been committed to record. We’ve sometimes discussed what sort of impact Mat would have had on the record if he was in the band at the time, but we love “Spinning Rooms” and it perfectly encapsulates who and where we were when we recorded that in early January 2018.
Promotional poster showcasing sleeve to single “Exist”. Photography by Tom Houghton
Your sophomore EP “Everything Is Different Now” will see the light of the day on Friday, 25th January 2019. What can we expect?
Andy Keating: It’s a progression from “Spinning Rooms.” It still sounds like Ist Ist but it was the natural progression. It’s probably actually slightly more accessible. “Spinning Rooms” was relatively niche in places but there’s two definite “singles” on “Everything Is Different Now.”
“Everything Is Different Now” is being promoted by a single “Exist” and a video filmed in France. It was created and directed by Natalia Bedkowska and Matthew Boone. Can you tell us more about the idea behind this video? It seems to follow the same concept as “Right Before Your Eyes”, showing ordinary life and streets of urban dwellings.
Andy Keating: Our keyboard player Mat knows Natalia so he got in touch with her and the only brief really was that it needed to fit in with our style, we left the rest up to her. She was on a trip to Paris so decided to film it there, she sent it across and we were happy with it. Boone shot the live footage at our show at St Philip’s Church back in August 2018.
We want to ask you about your label – Kind Violence Records. They seems to share your interest in high art and dislike of social media hype. Their website is minimalistic and quotes “Darkness” – a poem by Lord Byron. We noticed that photography on the record label’s page is done by Tom Houghton whose images also can be found on the covers of your releases. It’s hard not to notice that Tom bears the same surname as Adam, your vocalist. Is it a coincidence or rather a family owned enterprise?
Andy Keating: Someone’s done their research… Adam created Kind Violence to use as a label to release our EPs and to potentially release other music he and we liked. The surname isn’t a coincidence either. Tom is Adam’s brother. He takes some really cool photographs which always seem appropriate for our artwork.
Artwork showing a brutalist landmark that can be found on Kind Violence Records website Photography by Tom Houghton
Surely after the EP is out, a tour will follow. Where can we see you playing live next?
Andy Keating: Yes, we’re heading out on tour soon after the EP is out. We’re playing:
So there you have it. Ist Ist`s new EP “Everything Is Different Now” will be out on 25th January. Get your copy before its gone! The only thing we could not do while preparing this chapter of Indieterria was to see the band live. That may change in the coming months!
We hope you enjoyed our first interview of 2019 and we will be coming back to update this blog in the future.
This December Indieterria stops for a while in a port. Kingdom of Mancunia always had the best music and record collections and even people who did things differently. So for the time being, we will stay in a safe and warm haven of Manchester and will report on new acts coming from the town and its wonderfully loud venues of Northern Quarter.
Two years ago we began Indieterria by interviewing Salford`s own Tigerside. This time around, we reopen a new year by chatting to the artist known as Tin Mole. You probably did not hear about him yet (unless you listen to Salford City Radio 94.4 FM with Zach Peach who was one of the first DJs to play Tin Mole), but surely soon there will be a lot of hype around the artist who mixes samples, indie rock, trip hop and spoken word in a truly innovative fashion.
Tin Mole logo
You may be familiar with Tin Mole`s previous project – Ladies` Dart Night as they delivered their politically charged musical sermons across the North sharing stages with Garden Back or Strange Bones. Sadly, Ladies` Dart Night ended in 2017 and members of the band moved on to other projects.
We discovered Tin Mole via Tom Robinson`s excellent Fresh on the Net portal and were so impressed with his debut single “Slug Frontier” that we contacted him and asked for an interview. Tin Mole is an enigma wrapped in riddle, his answers are short, to the point with the usual northern swagger and edge. But you can`t deny him vision, talent and artistic integrity. He works double hard to put music out there, doing his own PR (press releases, photos, editing) while studying and working at the same time. Practical, honest and determined – Tin Mole breaks the mold on Mancunian scene, offering something fresh and unusual.
Read on, listen and tell us what you think.
Tin Mole ?
Ladies` Darts Night logo
Ladies` Dart Night Luke Geoghegan (drums, keys)
Nathan Connell-Howard (guitar, bass)
Jonny Sowerby (vox)
Tom Milnes (vox)
Phil Stuttard (vox)
You are not a newcomer on Manchester music scene. Would you like to introduce yourself to Indieterria readers?
Tin Mole: I’m Tin Mole, a producer from Manchester. I’ve been in a couple of bands and done a fair bit of techno DJ`ing on the underground mole scene.
Before Tin Mole, you have been a member of five piece Ladies` Darts Night. You have released EP “Tragedies, Comedies & Histories” in 2017, toured nationally and shared stages with such established young acts as Garden Back and Strange Bones. Then suddenly you called it quits. What happened?
Tin Mole: It was fun while it lasted but it all went to pot after a trip out to Edinburgh. The Irn Bru was strong that day.
Tin Mole in a curious selfie mode?
German blog “Hey Musik” described Ladies` Darts Night as “pulling groovy, fuzzy guitar from The Stone Roses, powerful lyrics with a poetic rhythm like John Cooper Clarke or Morrissey, and pounding drums paired perfectly with a mysterious bass like Joy Division. If you’re into a loud, mesmerizing sound backed with politically infused lyrics, then this 5 piece band are who you need to be listening to”. The writer even travelled to Manchester to see you. Not every band on the Manc scene can say they had interest from foreign journalists.
Tin Mole: Yeah we were doing alright but it is what it is. “Mesmerising sound” is a great compliment, I like that.
You were pulling no punches as a band. “Message for May” is right up there with Shame`s “Visa Vulture”, an attack on PM for her policies. Your other song “Shopkeeper” tackles grooming. I get a feeling, had the band continued, you would be going in the same direction as The Blinders, leading politically charged music onwards.
Tin Mole: Yeah we were sort of heading that way, just writing about things we were passionate about at the time. I do still write a lot of that type of thing but they’re amongst other more personal topics, like battles with slugs.
In contrast to being in a band, Tin Mole seems to be a solo act.
Tin Mole: It sort of is. I’ve written and produced some tunes and Nathan Connell-Howard from Ladies` Darts Night has helped out with guitar parts. I’ve got a 6 piece band together now to play the tunes live which I’m well excited about.
Your first single Slug Frontier is a strange mix of trip hop, spoken word and samples. It reminds us of Black Grapes, Sleaford Mods and Tricky. With some incredible poetic lyrics. Is there a story behind the song?
Tin Mole: Thanks. they’re good acts to be compared to, especially Tricky. As for the story behind Slug Frontier, it’s all true… Every word.
We heard you will be releasing a new track soon. What shall we expect?
Tin Mole: Similar sample based production but a bit slower, slightly less shouty and every word is a lie.
Tin Mole is on a mission to fight slugs.
You once said “I think everyone knows deep down Manchester is Britain’s true second city. Sorry Birmingham.” Do you still feel the scene up north is ahead of everyone else?
Tin Mole: Yeah I think it is in some ways. There are great bands coming out of Manchester like Duds or Gnod and The Blinders are doing really well. But it always seems that the London bands get more publicity. That’s usually the way with everything in the London-centric Brexit apocalypse.
There is an aura of mystery around Tin Mole – no bio, scarce presence on social media , no agent, no label. It seems that you try to let the music do the talking, rather than drive attention to yourself as an artist.
Promotional image towards Tin Mole`s upcoming single.
Tin Mole: I talk enough shit in the songs so I don’t feel the need to bombard people with more of it. I’m trying to keep it as DIY as possible and I think the music speaks for itself enough, but no doubt things will pick up on social media in the coming weeks and months.
“Slug Frontier” is easily one of the singles of the year for us. After hearing it for the first time, we immediately started to look for your gigs. And we know we are not the only one. Do you have any concerts planned, and if so – where can we see you in the future?
Tin Mole: Nice one, I appreciate that! We have a couple of gigs in Manchester confirmed for the new year but don’t think I can say anything until the promoters announce it. But I do know that there’s an exciting new band playing at a venue called Jimmy’s on Saturday 2nd February 2019, so might be worth keeping that date free.
The last (goofy) question. Your bio mentions a strange creature that looks like a monster of the week from Doctor Who: “silvery-white metal, made of tinplate or aluminium with a long muzzle, and small eyes, feeding mainly on worms, grubs, and other invertebrates”. What is Tin Mole and is it safe to keep one as a pet?
Tin Mole: It’s what it says on the tin really. As long as food and drinks are provided with access to a studio, then yeah of course it’s safe.
The cover to Slug Frontier – Tin Mole`s debut single
In next few weeks Tin Mole should drop a brand new track which we will surely review on this blog. We are very excited about this artist. Nothing speaks to us more than music that is fresh and unusual. Looking back is a waste of emotions – and projects such as Tin Mole offer us a glimpse of what will be hip and trendy in the future. Just what A&Rs love.
All hail the incredible creative potential of Mancunia!
Winter, winter on the way and our little music project is now two years old. To celebrate this humble achievement of Indieterria, we have reached over the Big Pond to speak to Dream Phases – a band that brings back the most exciting and creative genre in guitar driven music – psychedelic rock. If you look around carefully, you can notice some sort of renaissance on the psychedelia front happening in the last 12 months – with bands such as The Naked Party and Hooveriii in the States and The Cosmics, The Surrenders or The Strawberries in the UK.
It was a pleasure to interview Brandon Graham – vocalist and mastermind behind Dream Phases. Great story teller, meticulous in his answers and his enthusiasm for music is contagious. We hope you will like this chapter of Indieterria. Read on and dig it.
Brandon Graham (vox, guitar)
Shane Graham (drums)
Keveen Baudouin (guitar)
Dylan Nelson (bass)
Anthony Marks (keys)
Brandon Graham – the voice of Dream Phases Photo by Michael Haight
Dream Phases are recognized as one of the hottest new psychedelia acts in America. Obscure Sound described you as “hypnotic melodies of vintage psych-folk and rock with a contemporary pop charm”. Please introduce yourself to readers of Indieterria.
Brandon Graham (Dream Phases) : Thank you. I’m Brandon Graham and I write, record and produce the Dream Phases music as well as sing and play guitar live. We are a group of close friends playing rock n roll based out of Los Angeles. The band is comprised of myself, my brother Shane Graham on drums, Keveen Baudouin on guitar, Dylan Nelson on bass and Anthony Marks on keys.
You have toured Europe in September this year; playing 12 dates across seven countries, with three shows in the UK accompanied by The Blank Tapes. How do you remember the tour? Any stories to tell?
Brandon Graham: Yeah the tour was fantastic, I know we all would like to come back as soon as possible. Everyone in the band was really happy to be travelling around Europe, it was some of my band mates first time in Europe and was quite the experience. There was definitely a lot of highlights and fond memories but one of the funniest was playing a show in northern France. I’m not going to be specific about names but we played a small city in France, that was really beautiful. They don’t get a lot of rock bands, let alone bands from Los Angeles, so everyone was extra excited. The owner of the place we played and stayed at was especially excited, and he treated us fantastic. We probably had the best meal of tour that night. Anyway as soon as we arrived the owner started pouring us drink after drink after drink, and also having them himself as well. As the night wore on he told us, ‘just wait until we close the bar, then the real party will start’. So we are waiting and wondering what is going to happen, but about 5 minutes later we found him totally passed out, and well before he was supposed to close the bar. It was awesome and hilarious, that was a great night. Another memory is that my brother and I literally walked around Paris all night long after our show, it was beautiful to see the city that way. One of the most special parts of the tour was going to visit Keveen’s parents home. Keveen is French and grew up in the northern part of south France. We’ve been playing music together, in different bands, for over 8 years and it was awesome to see where he grew up and to meet his family. We stayed at his parents` house for 2 and a half days and his mom made us two four-five course meals a day. It was unbelievable.
Ready to take over the world? We hope so! Photo by Michael Haight
We are impressed by how quickly the band works on new material. You started in 2017 and that year seen release of your debut EP “Maybe Tomorrow” on March 28th. In 2018 you have released a standalone single “Easy Love” on April 20th and quickly followed up by another EP “Clear Skies” on September 4th. Each release comes also in different formats: CD, vinyl, cassette, digital download. You must be the hardest working band in US!
Brandon Graham: I don’t know about that, but yes we do try to work as hard as we can, mostly so we can continue recording and making more music. The goal is to constantly evolve what we are doing and to try different things. By the time we put something out we are probably onto something else entirely. It can take a while before the music actually hits the public, especially with vinyl releases. We have two albums of material right now that will be coming out over the next several months, one at the end of this year and our proper debut album in spring. We’ll be getting the vinyl version of “Clear Skies” anytime now, and it is combined now with, “Maybe Tomorrow”. The vinyl should be out within a few weeks on Nomad Eel Records.
Brandon, you are known for your work with other bands – Avid Dancer, Blank Tapes, Nacosta. Do you think being involved in so many different project had a positive influence on Dream Phases?
Brandon Graham: It definitely has. It’s opened my eyes to so many different styles and songs, and ways to go about working. It’s also helped keep me focused and budget my time accordingly, to juggle playing in a lot of bands. I’ve learned something valuable from every band that I’ve played with. It has also helped me as a musician enormously, by learning so many different writers songs and parts.
This Californian five piece is regarded by blogs and music journalists as one of the most important bands of the genre at the moment. Photo by Michael Haight
We want to ask you about our favorite track – “To Walk Away”. It has this Beatles-sque quality to it and such moving lyrics. Tell us where was this song recorded and what is it about?
Brandon Graham: To Walk Away was recorded a couple of different times. Although this is not what it is about, I wrote the song actually as a reaction to when Tom Petty died. I had been listening to his music a lot right before he died, and learning more and more about the simplicity of his lyrics and music. He was an idol of mine growing up, and I was lucky enough to work with him a couple years ago with a band I was filling in with. For a very short time he was a mentor. Right after he died last year I wrote that song and one more, that I have yet to record. The lyric is dealing with the end of a long relationship I was in, and facing the fact that I had to move on, that it was time to let go and to walk away from it. Most of the “Clear Skies” EP is dealing with that time, both shortly before and after the break up. Heartbreak definitely does inspire, I wrote a ton of songs about that.
Dream Phases are sometimes compared to the Naked Party. Are you familiar with their repertoire? Would you agree that there are similarities between both bands?
Brandon Graham: I actually am not familiar with them, but now I’m definitely curious and will look them up. I’m kind of excited to hear them!
We know you have debut album to be released in Spring 2019. Are there any secrets that you can reveal for this interview? What can we expect from the record?
Brandon Graham: We’ve actually been working on it on and off since last December when we recorded most of the basic tracks, and some of the songs date back to my original demo album from two years ago now. We are about to record all the final overdubs and then start mixing it at the beginning of January. Most of the songs, but not all, have been in our live set for a while now, so anyone that has seen us will know some of them. It’s about time to get those songs on tape. The music will encompass similar territory as what we’ve put out so far, but there will be a few dips into some noise pop and shoegaze. Lyrically it is dealing with similar themes as the “Clear Skies” EP, as well as an influence of living in Los Angeles and playing in the local music scene. I can’t wait to finish it!
There is certainly a psychedelic revival on the indie circuit in the UK with acts like The Surrenders, Raptor, As Mamas or The Cosmics leading the way. Would you like to recommend some new bands from across the Big Pond for our readers? Who is on your psychedelic rock play list at the moment?
This will be the most unoriginal question you will hear all week – but we got to ask. If you could record a song with anyone alive or dead – who would you choose for the task?
Brandon Graham: That’s actually a really tough one because there are some many people I’d love to record with. I guess it would be a toss – up between Elliott Smith and Jimi Hendrix, I love both of them and their studio work and they were both going further and further out in the studio when they died. Also Joe Meek, we could of made some tripped dark voodoo-isa rock `n` roll. For someone today I’d really like to work with Nicolas Vernhes for his work with Deerhunter and Animal Collective. Also would of been amazing to have Geoff Emerick engineer a song, and also be produced by Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher would of been incredible. This is the toughest of these questions for sure!
We are hoping that once your album comes out you will return to the UK for more live shows. But in the mean time – where can people see you play? Any upcoming tours?
Brandon Graham: If we have a future, we will return to Europe (laughs). At the moment we are done with shows for the year, but we will be announcing three shows for January, with one on Martin Luther King Day, January 21st at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA), which will be rad one! Then we will do some US touring in Spring once our record comes out.
new psychedelia rising – Dream Phases Photo Michael Haight
That`s all for now. Vanadian Avenue gives Dream Phases a stamp of approval and we hope that you too enjoyed the music and discovering new acts with us. We can only hope that 2019 will prove to be a lucky year and Dream Phases will once again visit our side of the Pond.
Just imagine them tearing the roof off Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham or Night & Day in Manchester. Yep, we knew you will all agree with us.
They are bold, they are loud and they are young. They don’t care what anybody thinks and they are not interested in pleasing anyone. Our today’s guests are truly special. Very rarely, our blog has the pleasure to host a full female band, and we are really happy we can introduce you to WITCH FEVER. The group is known for its strong feminist/equality message, beautifully crafted dynamic shows and excellent music. We caught up with the quartet on the eve of their charity gig, Manchester Punks for West Papua at Alphabet Brewery in Manchester and we spoke about their influences, being catcalled at gigs and playing at the legendary Granada Studios.
Official bio: Manchester based all girl punk grunge band. Angry and honest, bringing grungey riffs, a heavy beat and an eclectic mix of clean and shrieking vocals.
“They are raw, in your face and making a glorious and beautiful racket, are full of explosive and kinetic energy and collapsing new riffs and are going to make a noise musically and culturally” – John Robb for Louder Than War
“Imagine the Slits meet Black Sabbath partying with Pussy Riot in Kim Gordon’s angry neighbour’s basement. Drunk. Witch Fever are wonderful.” – Legendary Hacienda DJ, Dave Haslam
“All girl grunge punk band from Manchester with unhinged feral vox and a ramshackle approach yes, but supercool sonics, this band display an undeniable rough-hewn charm.” – Bug Bear Promotions
“For a band who were catcalled onstage in Bristol for not being proper punk, they’re near as dammit the epitome of its sound and attitude. So, to paraphrase another great punk band: get outta their way or they’re gonna shove.” – Nightshift Magazine
Amy Walpole (guitar, lead vocals)
Alex Thompson (bass, backing vocals)
Alisha Yarwood (lead guitar, backing vocals)
Annabelle Joyce (drums)
Louder Than War magazine announced Witch Fever`s arrival with the words “deep inside the claustrophobic music scene of Manchester, there is something happening”. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.
WITCH FEVER: We’re Alisha, Alex, Annabelle and Amy. We are WITCH FEVER. We play punk, we’re all women, and we don’t take any shit!
The band describes themselves as punk – grunge but we see your sound as being much broader than that. Would it surprise you if we qualified you as the heavier end of the indie circuit, boldly crossing into metal scene at times? We have been listening to your material and Val.i.um of Pist.On, Karyn Crisis, Jack off Jill or Tura Satana come to mind almost instantly.
WITCH FEVER: We totally see the cross over into metal – a lot of our riffs are pretty doomy and evil. The indie thing, not so much, but we’ll take your word for it! (laughter).
Not only musically, but also lyrically you seem to be much bolder, going further than many of your peers on the circuit. The Blinders use dystopia/literature to deliver their political message. Cabbage, Shame or Strange Bones are known for their strong opinions but none of them are as direct as you. In “Toothless” you scream out “I`m a force to be reckoned with” and everyone knows you mean business. Was it a part of the plan to become such a heavyweight act or did it come together naturally in the rehearsal room?
WITCH FEVER: We didn’t plan it. When we started, we knew we wanted to be on the heavier side of things but didn’t really have a specific direction.
Amy found that lyrics are the only place we can be totally honest and angry about anything we wanna be angry about. It’s important to us to dispel any myths about women only being pretty or quiet or delicate – of course women are these things at times but they are not ONLY these things. On stage, we make femininity about anger, power and strength.
All the members of the band come from different parts of the country but study in Manchester. Do you think that being “out of town” gives you an edge of being different and fresh on the scene that is dominated by local lads with guitars?
WITCH FEVER: We’ve all had quiet different upbringings and lived in totally different places so we suppose the experiences from that come together and make us what we are. We all moved to Manchester expecting it to be amazing for music but it was quite underwhelming. There’s a significant lack of women/non-binary people being given opportunities that men are. We’re here to change that, and hopefully inspire others too.
You have recorded incredible session for Stay Fresh/CITY LIFE at the Old Granada Studios playing two tracks: “Toothless” and “Creeper”. It must have been an experience to play the same room in which the Beatles gave their first ever television performance in 1962.
WITCH FEVER: We loved doing that, however we had no idea about the Beatles thing! Maybe people will be saying that about us in 60 years
John Robb of Louder Than War/Membranes is not the only fan of your music. Dave Haslam – legendary DJ and journalist also is impressed. In his piece for I Love Manchester (Women in Manchester music: are the times a-changin’?) Haslam mentioned you and Liines as the groups he recommends to other music journalists and your image illustrated the article. Did you expect to have such important figures in your corner when you started out?
WITCH FEVER: Not at all! We’re still surprised by things like that. It’s really encouraging to have prominent men in music on our side, and Dave really is lovely! He’s always championing female artists which is great!
You have toured extensively nationally (Leeds, London, Oxford, Birmingham among others) and internationally (The Netherlands). You have appeared with Cabbage at their Glamour At Thee Ritz. You seem determined to bring your music to the masses. How important is touring?
WITCH FEVER: Very important! We love getting to play new places and meeting so many people. We’d rather not have to do the Megabus thing though!
When speaking about touring, we cannot not ask you about a certain gig in Bristol where you have been though some horrible experience. Would you like to revisit the story for readers of our blog – because in 2018 there are still people out there who do not believe that gigs can be harrowing experiences for artists and the public, especially women.
WITCH FEVER: So, regularly we experience misogyny, sexism and harassment, but Bristol was a gig in which it was so bad that we had to formally complain and ask for CCTV footage. We were being constantly leered over and undermined before and during our set. Men grabbed us, a guy from one of the bands shouted at us to take our tops off, a woman asked us to strip for her friend etc. Throughout the set, we kept repeating that we felt uncomfortable and needed space but nobody listened. Now at most gigs, we make a point of saying that we do not tolerate it at our shows.
On 30th November your debut release double A-side single “Toothless”/”Daddy pt.2” will be released via Brassneck Records. The red vinyl 7” looks magical on promos that we have seen. Can you tell us more about this release?
WITCH FEVER: Its blood red, has a sleeve with 4 individually designed sides, and you summed up the rest! We love it!!!
You will appear at the fundraiser Manchester Punks for West Papua on 1st December 2018 at Alphabet Brewing Company, alongside The Membranes and Modern Family Unit. What can we expect from the set?
WITCH FEVER: Every gig is different and mad in some way! We haven’t played for a couple of weeks so it’ll be a lively one!
You can say that 2018 was a very good year for Witch Fever. What are your plans for the upcoming 12 months.
WITCH FEVER: More records released, new songs, more videos, LOTS MORE GIGS, and a big fuck you to the patriarchy!
The interview wouldn’t be complete if we haven’t had a quick word with the band’s manager, Debbie Ellis. Debbie has been working as a professional photographer and manager for many years and her experience is very valuable. And we are truly proud to have the ability to highlight the wonderful work that women in music do!
Self portrait – picture by Asupremeshot (Debbie Ellis)
How did you start working with Witch Fever?
Debbie Ellis: A few years back, I took up photography. I started out doing gig photos and met a young female photographer who was also in a band. She asked me to go see her band WITCH FEVER and take some pictures. So I did, as I suppose, I’m more intrigued by female artists in general as I was in a band myself and enjoy the dynamic of working creatively with women. I thought they were great and a friend of mine suggested I manage them. The band said yes and now we are here, 3 singles in and there’s a real buzz about the band. They are so talented and driven. They exceed any expectations live. You really have to see them to appreciate their unadulterated power.
Manchester music scene is dominated by guys. Witch Fever are doing an excellent job causing some ripples and showing that all female bands can be successful as well.You are the only female manager we know! Being a woman, does it make your job harder? Are there any other female managers out there we need to mention?
Debbie Ellis: I know The Moonlandingz have a female manager, which totally makes sense.
From day one of being in a band to present day of working as a band manager and a music photographer, I have experienced a lot of, mainly negative remarks. Usually with regard to my ability to use technology, write a song, play an instrument, perform on stage. I feel as a manager, my authority is questioned regularly. At quite a few gigs, whether in the role of manager or photographer, I have been asked am I one of the bands mum.
Although on the upside organisations like “Girls I Rate“, “Women in Music” and PRS 4 Music are some I know of that have good support networks. I recently heard about the Keychange initiative set up by the PRS Foundation, which is to encourage festivals to achieve an equal gender balance of performers by 2022 by signing their pledge. To date, many of the big named festivals have signed up, so it will be interesting to see if it comes to fruition. I know Sound City Festival has a lot of women in influential roles and are part of the Keychange Initiative.
Personally for me, the one thing I have always done, is to support and champion other female artists. I love working with women and to be able to give a little back means the world to me, and it goes a long way.
Debbie Ellis photographing Witch Fever
You are not only a manager but also a photographer, again one of only handful of female photographers in rock music. Your pictures are part of the successful “There is a light that never goes out” photography exhibition at Manchester Central Library. Tell us more about it.
Debbie Ellis: The exhibition has been curated by the renowned music photographer, Jill Furmanovsky. She had the foresight to leave one wall of the exhibition clear so she could gather a selection of more recent photographs of contemporary Manchester bands. As the majority of the exhibition features phenomenal images of iconic Manchester bands, such as Oasis, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, The Buzzcocks etc, which have been taken by herself and other acclaimed photographers as Kevin Cummins, Ed Sirrs & Paul Slatery.
As you can imagine I am absolutely thrilled to have two of my images (Blossoms & Witch Fever) included in the exhibition.
I totally think the fact I have been in a band and I’m female works in my favour when working in my photography role, too. I can be so tuned in to how the artist / bands are feeling. My approach is much more creative than technical. Photography to me is a creative process that cannot be rushed, you need to take time to get to know the people you are photographing before you get the results that make for a great image. Irving Penn, the 1950’s master of portraiture, would take over 200 photos on a contact sheet to tire out the subject before he would find ‘truth’ in their face!
11th of November 2018 was surely a day to remember. At that time each year, we celebrate National Independence Day in Poland and The Remembrance Day in the UK. This time however, for music fans, it was also the last day of the Blinders’ October/November tour supporting their debut album “Columbia”. Jokingly nicknamed “The Last Battle of Bristol” this date was hugely anticipated for several reasons. The Blinders haven’t played Bristol since their This Feeling days (February 2017 at The Stag & Hounds) and in the interviews, the band was adamant that the Johnny Dream and The Codeine Scene personas will be permanently gone. Expecting a bloody send off, fans quickly grabbed offered tickets. The gig was not a sold out event but not many tickets remained at the door and it is safe to say that Thekla was nicely packed. We arrived around 6:30 pm as the doors opened and we had to stand in a long queue to get inside. If you have to wait for the admission, it is a good sign that the concert will be a success.
The venue from the outside
It is a common knowledge that Thekla is one of the most unusual venues in the country. It is actually a real boat turned into music venue and when you see it for the first time, it can look really strange. Not Upside-Down strange, just strangely strange if you know what we mean. Yet, you quickly start appreciating the facilities they have: two bars (one long on the ground floor and one upstairs), upper deck with quiet seating section and a balcony, large toilets, bands quarters, rehearsal rooms, cloakroom and a large secured smoking area in the back. There is also an outside sitting area on the main deck that must be really pleasant in the summer, but it was too cold for us to go there although some locals were brave enough to sit there with cold drinks wearing nothing but shorts and a vest. To each their own as the song goes…
Johnny Dream poster exhibited at the lower bar
Better shot of the same poster – this is how A0 format looks like. Its huge!
The view of lower deck as seen from the upper bar
After leaving our bags and jackets in the cloakroom, we entered the main concert space with large scene and merch stands on the left. Previous reviews mentioned already that The Blinders selection was much smaller than on previous gigs but there is no reason to complain about it. The band sold out their vinyl records, CD’s and most of their tees and we were really happy to hear their tour manager repeating himself saying “Sorry, this is our last date, we are sold out!”. We wish all the bands we have seen this year could say the same. There were many signed posters and badges for fans to grab so nobody left the shop empty handed.
The Lower Bar
The door to the green room
On the evening, The Blinders were supported by two bands: Gum Soul and The White Room who replaced Calva Louise for the second leg of the tour. We haven’t seen any of them playing live before, so we were looking forward to their performances, especially after reading very enthusiastic reviews. Gum Soul were the first ones to hit the stage, some 45 minutes after we arrived. Their music can be classified as college rock/grunge that is fused with typical British indie. This is a very good mix and the band played a proper, strong 30 minute set. We had a chance to quickly speak with them after their show and we learnt that they are based in Bath but they play regularly in Bristol and managed to develop a healthy fan following. It was visible as once they started playing, the first few rows were populated by their fans who knew lyrics to each of the five songs they played (“Empty Room”, “Sour”, “In & Out”, “Scratch Ignorance” and “The Knees”). We liked “Sour” the most – it is their leading single and a very good track to play live. Gum Soul have formed only in February this year, but they seem to already have a distinctive sound and they know which direction they want to go. We will be keeping an eye on them in 2019 as the band is promising new material. If you have a chance to see them play locally, please do.
The White Room are described as a psychedelic pop, a marriage of convenience between The Sparks and early David Bowie, with art rock and shoe gaze influences. They are a five piece from Brighton, known for their flamboyant sense of fashion (Simon Le Bon meets David Byrne) and stage theatrics. Their lead singer, Jake Smallwood is very charismatic and he knows how to be in the centre of attention. He grabs the microphone with both hands, walks to the edge of the scene and pushes himself as far into the audience as possible, sometimes singing mere centimetres from the gig goers’ faces. This literal, in-your-face approach, seems to be working like a charm – the girls are mesmerized, the blokes are stretching their hands to pat him on his back and shoulders. With his platinum blonde hair and jade green shirts, Jake looks more like an actor than a musician but oh boy he can sing. His voice is crystal clear and again balances somewhere between Bowie, Le Bon and Mark Hollis. Except for Smallwood, the rest of the band comprises of Jacob Newman on guitar, Tristan Sava on keyboard, Hen Sava on drums and Josie McNamarra on bass. They have just released their double EP “Eight” and we had the pleasure of hearing all the best tracks from it: “Tomorrow Always Knew”, “Circles”, “Stole the I.V.” and “The Blue”. The band has been around for nearly two years and they have a large and dedicated fan base. they will be on tour in the late winter/early spring of 2019, so please keep your eyes open as they might come to the (independent) venue close to you.
White Room in action
This band needs to be seen live to understand what an incredible act they are
Just like in Birmingham, once the support acts were gone and the lights dimmed, the atmosphere changed rapidly. With the headliner about to come on the stage, fans grouped tightly on the main floor and on the balcony. In certain moments, the pushing and showing in darkness got so bad that the security had to calm down some of the most eager of fans. We sadly won’t remember the gig too well as we had to leave after the third song due to medical emergency but it was good to see the band in fantastic shape again. The show started very similar to their London gig, with Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” movie that quickly blended into Columbia style propaganda monologue by Patrick T. Davies. And once the monologue was finished, “Gotta Get Through” smashed our eardrums and sent the crowd into frantic pogo. “Brave New World” followed without break, only to slow down with “Where No Man Comes” and then turn into the poetic declamation of “Free The Slaves”. We have not seen the rest of the gig but we were told that Thomas Haywood, sat on the floor among the audience singing his mantra “There is no hope” during “Swine”, Charlie McGough battered his bass with intensity not seen previously and Matty Neale nearly broke his drum set with powerful blows. Was it a great send off to Johnny Dream and a proper good bye after 22-day tour? The answer is yes.
Even if it was our first time seeing The Blinders live, those three songs would be enough to turn us into believers. This band is going places, and this is not a secret. This is the truth. They have been predestined for the greatness and they will never settle for anything else.
After all, they’ve got the divine right.
The merch stand
Gotta Get Through
L’etat C’est Moi
Brave New World
Where No Man Comes
Free the Slave
I Can’t Breathe Blues
Rat In a Cage
Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)
The Upper Balcony at Thekla right before The Blinders gig
Audience patiently waiting for the Columbia transmission
We often try to photograph and film some part of performance to make sure our review is as close to the experience as possible. It it also to give our readers a chance to see how the event unfolded. Please find below some galleries for your enjoyment.
Photo gallery: Gum Soul
Photo gallery: White Room (soundcheck)
White Room (soundcheck)
White Room (soundcheck)
White Room (soundcheck)
White Room (soundcheck)
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White Room (soundcheck)
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White Room (soundcheck)
Photo gallery: White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
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White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
White Room (performance)
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Photo gallery: The Blinders
The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla
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The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla
The Blinders at Thekla – set list
We have been writing extensively about the Blinders on our blog Indieterria, so please have a look if you want to know more.
Rock and roll has always been political. The biggest legends in music business such as Bob Dylan, Jim Morison, The Boss, Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and others are known for their commentary about social changes, human interactions and connections. They were harsh critics of wars or aggression, callers for peace and observers of the political currents for many decades. Without their strong condemnation, many of the atrocities committed all over the world, would never seen the light of the day. Songs such as “Bizzare Fruit” by Billie Holliday, Donovan’s “The War Drags On”, “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band or Dylan’s famous “Times, They Are-a-Changing” became synonymous with the term “protest song” and touched on women’s suffrage, human rights, civil rights, anti-war movement, sexual revolution, gay rights, animal rights and environmentalism. We can easily say that each of these songs changed many minds and made the world a better place.
Punks for West Papua logo
Punk rock (especially the original movement born in 1970`s and 1980’s) has been particularly interested in politics. Sex Pistols, The Clash and Billy Bragg led a cultural revolution in the UK, attacking governmental war on trade unions, far right ideology and relentless commercialization and wasteful consumption. The German scene called for Berlin Wall to be demolished, demilitarization of divided capital and the end of Cold War. French groups called for unity on the international scene and American punks (with Black Flag, The Pixies, And The Ramones) led a successful crusade against Ronald Reagan, homelessness, corrupted police and austerity measures that affected poorest communities.
Our current punk scene is proudly carrying on the tradition of standing against injustice and on the 1st of December, members of The Membranes, The Blinders, Witch Fever and MFU (Modern Family Unit) will join activists from Manchester chapter of MCR Punks For West Papua to bring to your attention one of the worst genocides of our times, that of the ingenious population of West Papua.
The official press release for the event reads:
“Punks For West Papua Australia was first launched in 2016 as the brainchild of Jody Bartolo from the punk band Diggers With Attitude to shine a light on the threat of eco-cide from resource extraction, human rights abuses against the people at the hands of Indonesian security forces, and to inspire others to stand in solidarity for West Papuan independence.
“Indonesia is not going to continue getting away with the slaughter of the indigenous rightful owners of West Papuan land” says Ash Brennan co-founder of Punks For 4 West Papua, Australia. The Australian punk rock community created a no-holds barred Australian wide benefit, involving over 50 bands in 7 cities around the country, making Punks For West Papua the biggest, and no doubt, loudest punk rock showcase in the nation’s history. “Australian punk is loud, very loud. Pernicious resource extraction in West Papua has also been hazardous to the environment and is a major contributor of Climate Change. But the world is now watching” says Brennan.
According to Punks For West Papua Manchester co-founder Gary Hilton of Gas Music: “Little known Melanesian country West Papua has been subjected to a media black out for over 50 years. But with more than 500,000 indigenous people murdered to loot West Papua’s gold and other vast natural resources – time’s up.”
To send a thunderous message to the United Nations to intervene in West Papua, MCR Punks will challenge a world drumming record in the Summer of 2019. We invite drummers, musicians, activists, media and volunteers! If you can hit a drum you can help be part of the world record attempt to change the world for the better. To get involved in the world record drumming attempt please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The launch of MCR Punks for West Papua is scheduled for December 1st because it is a historic day in West Papua. It marks the 57th anniversary of the first raising of West Papua’s symbol of independence, the Morning Star Flag. It is illegal to raise the Morning Star in West Papua. Doing so can bring charges of treason and a 15 year jail sentence. On December 1st people in West Papua, and all over the globe, will be participating in a Global Flag Raising to show their solidarity.”
One of the organizers of the event, John Robb, editor of Louder Than War magazine and member of The Membranes says: “Punk rock was always more than three chords. It was a force of empowerment and an energy of hope. It always thought it could change the world. Maybe it’s now finally making that change.”
Young stars of Manchester scene are also vocal, giving their time and guitars to the noble cause. The Blinders and Witch Fever recorded short videos explaining why charity concert and fighting for justice is important in the modern world:
So the October/November, 22-date Columbia tour is now a history. Another page in the book is now turned and we are looking towards the future, remembering the amazing music, new friends we made and places we went to. It was a bit of a blur, we have to admit. First the preparations, album release, the visits to record stores, then the gigs and now we find ourselves back to square one!
The Blinders are watching you! Picture copyright by Modern Sky UK
What does that mean? First of all, the well deserved rest for the band, management and the technical crew who worked like house elves over the last few months. Then of course, it is the writing of the new material, recording session for the second album sometime next year and even more gigs! The Blinders’ booking team is working really hard to satisfy the demand to see them play live. The band already have multiple shows booked for December 2018 and the beginning of 2019. We will be putting them all here, in one separate blog as it is easier to keep an eye on everything that will be happening soon.
If you’d like to read some of the previous blogs about The Blinders, please use the links below.
Are you ready for the 2019? Picture copyright by Modern Sky UK
Alongside the newly added tour dates, this blog will include everything else that our other posts have taken into account: interview, articles, reviews, press mentions, newsletters, videos and pictures etc. We will try (again) to prepare some sort of an encyclopedia containing all data, sources and information that should give you a clear picture of what is happening on the road. This post will be growing as new dates are added, as new materials are found – if we miss something, please kindly point us in the right direction and we will add the missing links or pictures. If you’d like to contribute something – that’s even better! We always love hearing from other fans and since it is impossible for us to be at every gig, we welcome any help in documenting the Blinders’ journeys. Each section is clearly marked so please check them as the time goes by – you will find new information being added!
New single: On March 23rd, The Blinders released a new single “Rat In a Cage”. This song has always been a fan-favourite, but the band had no plan to release it until their trip to SXSW. After performing the song on BBC6 Showcase at British Music Embassy for Steve Lamacq, the trio was bombarded with requests for an official release. The single will be the last one from their debut album “Columbia” and the fourth after “Gotta Get Through”, “L’Etat C’Est Moi” and “Brave New World”.
The song was also chosen as it offers a glimmer of hope even in the darkest of places and “in the most desperate of times”. There are plans to release the single in limited vinyl pressing, but the date has not been announced yet.
The official release statement said: “‘Rat In a Cage’ is a song about hope & resistance. It is routed in the belief that collaboration and communication are fundamental to enacting change and pressing back against that which restricts our freedoms”.
Fun fact: The artwork used on the cover features a photograph taken by Rob Fay (Arathrael Photography), an award winning photojournalist whose pictures were printed all over the world and in almost every mainstream newspaper. He is represented by Getty Images. The rat you can see on the cover is named Percy. He was named after the character from Harry Potter and belongs to the photographer. He is white and brown and yawns in the picture 🙂
You can see him in person here: https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/photo/yawning-fancy-rat-royalty-free-image/132036136?adppopup=true
Mixology: Mixology is the newest idea from the band to promote the emerging artists on the UK scene. At the beginning of their career, The Blinders received huge amount of backing from local press, DJ’s and fellow musicians. Not everyone is that lucky and the trio wants to share some of their good fortunes. Mixology will help the band chose the tracks that have the best chances of pushing young bands’ careers forward. The Blinders will add the songs to their official Spotify playlist, where it will be available to all users. And if we take into account that they have more than 100.000 monthly listeners and are featured on prominent curated lists, that’s a lot of opportunities and streams for young artists!
Visualization videos: The Blinders are working closely with Sam Crowston and Nasty Men Creations to bring you the best visualizations for their tour. All videos will be added one under the other. We already have few available for your viewing pleasure!
Merch: The band has listened to their fans and a new merchandise selection has been added to their official store. Right now you can choose among seven different types of tees, bags, badges and many more items. The merch can be ordered through the band’s official website, but also will be available at the gigs. If you like anything, grab it!
Newsletter: The Blinders have a lovely newesletter that is being send out each month. If you’d like to be on top with all news, views, reviews and gigs or read the archived entries, please subscribe at: https://mailchi.mp/b25c7d36fed6/were-taking-columbia-to-europe?e=0d5ce7e9eb
The newsletter sent on 30th of November lists all announced gigs, so please take a look at the screenshot we took for you:
Newsletter 30th of November 2018
Safe Gigs for Women:
If you have read our reviews from the Columbia tour in November/December, you probably noticed that several shows have been disrupted by rough concert attendees. Several teenage fans and female gig goers reported negative experience to the management and the band took it extremely serious. To prevent any accidents from happening again, The Blinders teamed with Safe Gigs for Women for their UK tour. The charity is renowned for its excellent gig safety policy and will advise all how to take care of each others.
The Blinders were interviewed before going to SXSW in Austin Texas plus they performed two songs on the show: “Brave New World” and “ICB Blues”. The interview starts at 1:06:09 mark).
You can listen to it at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p071ttrx
Or you can listen to our clip below:
International Reviews: “The Manchester based trio, The Blinders play each of their songs as it was their last. The intensity of their performance is enormous but it works surprisingly well creating a psychedelic garage rock genre. Punkrock meets shoegaze guitars, droning bass beat and grinding drumming, leads to an unusual combination. Live shows are something everyone has to see – the band gives everything they have to the audience: warpaint, sweat and bloodied instruments. This is pure frenzied performance influenced by Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and The Fall. The BBC has had them on their radar for a couple of years now and called them a ‘Must-See band'” – WDR.DE after ESNS performance at Vera Club in Groningen (translation from German) https://www1.wdr.de/…/bands/ueber-the-blinders-100.html
“When a festival as big as ESNS takes place in one single city, you constantly rush from one concert hall to the other to be able to see all the interesting acts. In many cases, you have to queue and you miss half of the performance trying to either get into the venue or to leave it. Besides the acts that we managed to see without interruptions, we would like to name 5 bands whose fragmented performances were of pure class. They are: The Blinders, Drahla, Ocean Wisdom, FEET and Whispering Sons. Also, a special mention goes to The Slow Readers Club, a band sharing the same label with The Blinders. We have seen maybe 6 minutes of their show but the riff and the chorus to ‘You Opened Up My Heart’ was the highlight of Eurosonic for us” – Bart Somers for IndieStyle (translation from Belgian) https://www.indiestyle.be/live/vijf-hoogtepunten-van-esns-2019
“After the Shellac performance, The Smaller Gallery is filling up fast for the next act. The Blinders enter the stage accompanied by the soundtrack from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and a great dosage of smoke. Their set is composed of solid punk rock and indie music that is delivered with a lot of energy. As usual, the singer/guitarist Thomas, wears face paint that reminds us of black metal bands. Although we have seen The Blinders before (at ESNS), we truly enjoyed their gig.” – Frank De Jong & Marco Vlot at Grauzone Festival for 3VOOR12 (multimedia platform of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting VPRO for alternative and indie music) https://3voor12.vpro.nl/lokaal/den-haag/artikelen/overzicht/2019/februari/Grauzone-2019.html (translation from Dutch)
TOUR: Concerts, festival appearances and other gigs are slowly filling up the band’ schedule. 2019 seems like a very busy year as it will take them to mainland Europe and all over the UK again. To make it easy for you to keep an eye on all booked events, we decided to create a calendar! It is easy and very efficient. Of course, we will be updating the blog as the shows happen so each section you see below, will be extended. Each entry in the calendar contains full description for the event, address, links and other useful information. If the stage times or a place has not been fully confirmed yet, it is market as TBA (to be announced). The calendar will also be updated as more details are revealed.
Before the event, the band recorded a short video explaining why they support this noble cause:
Avalanche Xmas Party – now completed
Avalanche Xmas Party ft very special guests poster
Gig number 2 took place on 8th of December. For several reasons, it was one of the most unusual concerts that The Blinders played. First of all, it was organized by the headliner – The Avalanche Party and it was their personal, open to the public, Christmas Party. Secondly, the show was free entry, first come – first serve basis. Thirdly – it took place in the picturesque North Yorkshire sea village of Staithes that has a strong connection to the famous captain, James Cook. Avalanche Party and The Blinders were joined by Strange Bones and The Black Lagoons and the party started at 8:30 pm sharp. There were no reservations, tickets available only at the door and yet the place was packed tight. The venue, Captain Cook Inn, is very small and has about 80 people capacity and all of the tickets were sold out in just two days. What was happening you may ask? Well, according to reports, the show was absolutely stunning. The mosh pit was everywhere, shirts were removed quite early on and it was a blissfully sweaty affair, with singers being carried in the air by the crowd, gas masks were worn and the after party was a good old rock and roll history in the making. During the Blinder’s set, Johnny Dream took a day off and Thomas Haywood stepped in (the make up was gone!). The band performed their standards (“Brutus”, “Brave New World”, “Gotta Get Through” and “ICB Blues”) and two new ones “Lunatic with a gun” and ” Whiter”. Many fans are now calling for a full tour to be organized and we think this is a brilliant idea. Every venue would be sold out – this is not a marketing drill or “fake it till you make it” technique. This is a true fact. Each of those bands play a fantastic set, they also have their dedicated audiences, they play music that fits together and they never tourd the UK in this line up before. Since we posted information about this gig on our blog, at least 20 people contacted us asking if there will be future shows. Ladies and gents in the management for each of those killer acts – can we ask for at least several shows next year? Dear Santa, we have been very good this year!
The Blinders at Social in Doncaster – now completed
Number three show in the Blinders’ December calendar was their annual pilgrimage to their place of origin, aka Doncaster. The band played their beloved Social Club on 19th of December in their home town and Calva Louise acted as their support. Tickets were available only in person from the venue and as you may correctly guessed, it was another sold out show for the band. The doors opened at 7:30, by 8:00, Calva Louise were on stage and The Blinders rocked the crowd at 9:00. This was a very special show with massive mosh pit (loads of girls in the front we are happy to report!) and two new songs. The first one, performed as a second during their set, was actually a brand new version of a song written by Thomas Haywood about 3 years ago and was titled “Wither”. You can listen to its very, very early version on Thomas’ personal Soundcloud account: https://soundcloud.com/thomas-haywood-141688445/wither
The second new song “Lunatic With A Gun” was played as the 10th song in the set. It was premiered for the first time nearly a month earlier at the charity gig in Manchester and confused a lot of people when it suddenly stopped. This time, the public was prepared so the band didn’t have to explained it was the end of the track! The band’s set was also significantly longer than usual: it contained 14 songs and one encore “Swine”. The show lasted over an hour and 10 minutes and the order of the songs was completely new – the fans loved it. Oh, and the war paint was back so Johnny Dream survived Thekla and the Last Battle of Bristol.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/socialdoncaster/
Venue address: Lazarus Court Bradford Row, Bradford Row, Doncaster DN1 3NF, England
Opening hours: 7:30-11:00pm (gig), after party till 4:00am
Tickets: £8 Pictures:
IN THE FLESH! Glasgow at SWG3 Festival – now completed
Baby Strange presents In The Fresh – poster for Glasgow show
Poster number 2
Additional poster with time schedules
Fourth event booked for 22 of December was the IN THE FLESH! mini festival in Glasgow. It was a large show with two different venues inside the massive SWG3 Studios and Warehouse. The doors opened exactly at 3 pm and the first band to perform on Stage 1 was the The Vanities (they played between 4:00 and 4:30). They were followed by Walt Disco (5:00-5:30), then Rascalton (6:00-6:30) with Neon Waltz, headlining from 7:00 till 7:45. The Stage 2 was the main stage and their programme was longer and more varied. CRYSTAL started at 4:30 till 5:00 pm, followed by Voodoos, (5:30-6:00), LUCIA (6:30-7:00), then The Blinders took the stage for a full 45 minute set (8:00-8:45) and the evening was finished by an excellent performance from BABY STRANGE. Curfew for the show was 10:00 pm. Tickets were priced at £15 and you needed to be +14 to enter.
What can we say about the show? It was another Christmas party and it went very well. Less than 100 tickets remained at the doors and the venue was filled tightly. The band gave a full performance, the set list was almost identical to the one from Doncaster with the exception of “Wither” that was replaced by “Swine”. The Blinders had a fantastic time and so did the audience who praised the trio’s energetic performance and technical abilities.
Kendal Calling New Year’s Eve, Manchester – now completed If you didn’t know where to go to celebrate the NYE, but you wanted to see the band, you had the chance to catch them twice in one night in their (adopted) hometown of Manchester. And it was not just any other regular night – it was the New Years’s Eve! The first opportunity to see The Blinders on stage was at Kendal Calling New Year’s Party. Andy Smith and his team organized a special show to celebrate not only the beginning of 2019, but also to thank all those who attended the festival in the summer.
Kendall Calling New Years’ Eve Extravaganza!
Victoria Warehouse is a large venue and several hundred people partied hard to the music of Everything Everything, Tom Greenan, Felix Hagan and The Family, and two large DJ sets from The Hacienda legend Dave Haslam and Howling Rhythm. Doors were opened at 6:30 pm, the show started exactly at 7 pm and finished around 2 am. This was one of the rare occasions to see Dave Haslam returning to the DJ booth and re-creating a true Hacienda Rave party. As you can imagine, this line up managed to attract quite a crowd. The Blinders played as a second act of the evening, right after the truly enjoyable set by Felix Hagan and The Family. Their set was 30 minute long between 20:00 and 20:30 pm. As usual, they started off with “Gotta Get Through” that merged into “Brace New World”. A strong and aggressive beginning allowed the public to jump and dance and it was good to see the Blinders on a full scale, stadium-like stage. “Where no man comes” and “ICT Blues” followed and the set was closed with “Brutus”.
Night People New Year’s Party, Manchester – now completed After finishing their duties at Kendal Calling, The Blinders made their way to Night People to play a second show of the evening. They have been the mysterious headliner advertised on the posters, probably the worst kept secret in the entire Kingdom of Mancunia as everyone knew who that headliner was. Just look at the posters below (by the way, the event has amassed 4 different promotional graphics, which is quite something) and count the question marks. Very clever, isn’t it? The New Year’s Party at Night People was in fact a small festival. 8 bands were booked to play, but sadly at the last minute, Naked Six had to cancel due to illness. The doors were opened at 7:30 and the first band to play was The Big Peach (20:45-21:15). The quintet describes themselves as “5 rock n roll outlaws making Manchester their own 1960’s wild west frontier – they sound quite interesting so please give them a spin. Carnival Club were next with their slot lasting 30 minutes (21:30-22:00). Nicknamed as “Patron Saints of Rock and Roll”, the quartet has made quite an impressions on the locals and will play a large tour in 2019. Things started getting really interesting when the third band appeared on stage. SECS were advertised as Manchester’s first super group and all we knew before the show was, it was formed by members of The Blinders, Calva Louise and Strange Bones. Once SECS started playing exactly at 22:20 (a bit fashionably late), the mystery of who exactly was in the band was revealed. Jess Eastwood of Calva Louise took the role of main vocalist and guitarist, \ of Strange Bones sang backing vocals and played lead guitar and Matty Neale of The Blinders filled his usual post as a drummer. A real surprise was to see The Blinders’ frontman, Thomas Haywood joining them on stage as a…bassist! SECS set was brilliant (but of course), energetic and the group had so much fun playing together. They played several songs including “Easy”, “I Know” and “Hang on”. We hope that they will be playing more often but this seems rather unlikely as this year will be very busy for their main bands. At 23:00 pm, The Blinders took to the stage. While playing with SECS, Thomas wore a white shirt, he was all smiles and seems relaxed. When he returned to the stage as Johnny Dream, his face was very focused, the warpaint back on. Yet during the gig, and when the sweat started washing the make up away, his smile returned, he greeted and saluted the crowd and exchanged short laughs with Charlie and Matty. It was good to see them enjoying playing for their friends and families – a much different call than when they are on tour in unfamiliar places. They played “Gotta Get Through”, “L’Etat C’est Moi”, “Hate Song”, “ICB Blues”, “Et Tu/BerlinWall/Brutus”, “Brave New World”, “Rat in a Cage”, “Ramona Flowers”, “Wither” and “Swine”, although not in that particular order 🙂 The set finished several minutes before midnight and it was the time for John Hall to do the honours and count down to announce the new year. Saytr Play, one of our discoveries in 2018, played next, the first band to rock 2019. They started with “Don’t Go East”, with “VCR”, “To Be The One”, “L.I.F.E.”, “Mother’s Love”, “Fragile”, “Band Average” and “Everyday Since” forming the rest of their set. After 1:00 am, alternative duo (and first cousins) Sly Antics appeared to entertain the public with quite an impressive concert consisting of “Motion”, “Bin Juice”, “B-Side”, “Roads”, “Choose Your Words”, “Fresh Bites”, “Reality”, “Lights Go Down” and “Sunday Fear”. Please take a closer look at them if you have a chance, those guys are really something else! Replacing Naked Six, Octoptus finished the live music for the evening with their set nearly at 02:45am. The party went on til 6 am with several DJ sets, but that’s a different story!
First TV performance and interview at Soccer AM (Sky1), London – now complete The new year started like a Hitchcock’s thriller – first the earthquake and then the tension slowly started rising up. On January 2nd, The Blinders announced that they would appear on national television for the first time in their career! They have been invited for an interview and performance to the popular Saturday morning program, Soccer AM on 5th of January! Just moments after the news appeared on the official social media channels, the Columbia I-net went into some soft of an overdrive. Fans bombarded the band with questions, exclamation marks and congratulations.
this Saturday we go live on @SoccerAM for the first time ever on the small screen, what a delight.
Just look at the comments posted online – the Blinders have the most loyal fans
The Blinders spent entire day on Friday recording the program alongside Liam Ridgewell (defender and the captain of Major League Soccer club Portland Timbers) and Ceallach Spellman (actor and TV presenter). They performed “Brave New World” live in the studio, answered a lot of questions (favourite football teams, how it felt to play two gigs on New Years Eve, what is Columbia and who is Johnny Dream) and even had a chance to shoot penalties. Thomas and Charlie sadly missed, but Matty showed the world that he is not only a skilled drummer, but can kick the ball like a pro. He also sent kisses left and right after scoring a goal. The show was broadcast on Sky1 on Saturday exactly at 10:00 am and finished at 11:30.
The performance can be seen on Soccer AM Facebook page:
After the videos and performances were uploaded online, the band basically went viral. The video to Brave New World has been viewed nearly 30.000 times in less than 12 hours. We have been monitoring the rising statistics for the entire day and Malicia did a nice post to sum it all up. But of course the numbers keep on growing and will continue to grow so please hang tight, it is going to be a nice ride! So far we managed to count: 30.000 views for their performance on Facebook, 23.000 on Twitter, Matty’s goal scored nearly 30.000 views as well. Nearly 1000 likes, over 700 comments across the band’s social channels…Amazing!
ESNS Eurosonic Noorderslag, The Netherlands – now complete Eurosonic Noorderslag (abbreviated ESNS) is one of the biggest music conference in Europe. It is an equivalent of South by South West and each year thousands of people travel to the city of Groningen to participate. There are hundreds of concerts in 47 different venues, meetings, talks and panels regarding every part of the music industry – from mech and touring to PR, legal advice and international recording deals. Every genre (from metal to folk music) was represented and everybody could find something that would make them tap their feet or dance. ESNS 2019 took place on 16th-19th January and it was The Blinders’ first international festival! More than 300 acts were confirmed, from every European county. The Blinders joined Boy Azooga, Fontaines D.C., Bülow, Pip Blom and many other established acts. Plus, the festival added them to their official Spotify list! You could say that the first trip to mainland Europe was a success even before the band landed in the Netherlands!
When The Blinders were booked to play at ESNS in the summer last year, the news of their appearance at the festival caused a huge anticipation among media and gig goers. The demand to see them live grew even further after the word of their sold out Columbia tour traveled abroad. The concert at VERA Club (one of the biggest venues in Groningen) took place on Thursday 17th of January between 23:45 and 00:30 CET. The band performed alongside Any Other (Italy), Fontaines D.C. (Ireland) and Scúru Fitchádu (Portugal) to fully packed venue. Tickets to the show were sold out weeks in advance and at least 100 people were left standing outside the club and sadly could not get in! We were lucky that riots have not started in the streets! The trio played their entire 50 minute set that English fans already know from their autumn tour, but the European fans were mesmerized! They started with “Gotta Get Through”, followed with “Brave New World”, “Free the Slaves”, “ICB Blues”, “Where No Man Comes” and of course they closed their set with the murderous marathon of “Brutus”, “Et Tu” and “Berlin Wall”. The audience gave them a long ovation after they left the stage. It will be a night the band and the public will never forget! We have to mention one thing – for the first time we had a chance to see the entire band playing in the matching clothing. Thomas Haywood took on his usual persona of Johnny Dream (black trousers and black bohemian loose shirt plus warpaint), but Charlie and Matty also wore only black. Charlie is usually dressed in dark suit with white shirt underneath (resembling Nick Cave) but this time wore only black silky shirt and dark trousers. Matty wore a dark short sleeve shirt and elegant dark trousers as well, instead of his preferred attire composed of a grey tee and a pair of jeans. One journalist jokingly described them as Men in Black!
At ESNS, The Blinders were recorded by several radio stations. The first one to broadcast their song from the conference was BBC Radio 1 with Huw Stephens. On 20th of January 2018 in his show, he played “Brave New World” giving the band a splendid review. You may notice that the song was performed in a new style! Thomas perfected his singing technique and his voice sounds much stronger and more mature.
The Blinders were mentioned on popular ESNS podcast called SHARQ TALK! The presenters talked about not hearing about The Blinders before their show at Vera. However, they rated their performance as a good, very energetic show. They were not really convinced by the warpaint and thought the bassist (Charlie) looked a bit lost in thoughts, but paid many complements to their technical skills and abilities to make cool music. They also rated The Blinders as ready for the big European festivals such as Lowlands and Pinkpop. Again, massive interest of press and media was observed with presenters saying that more than 1200 people showed up to see the gig: inside the club (capacity 450) and outside! There were also 8 photographers and a cameraman. Thank you to Joep Coolen and Anke van der Voorn for their help with translation. The Blinders are mentioned exactly at 35:40 minute mark.
Independent Venue Week – Trades Club, Hebden Bridge – now complete Trades Club in Hebden Bridge is one of the most popular venues in Yorkshire that hosted many international and national superstars. The Blinders have played there before and each time, their gigs were sold out. On 31st of January, the band (along with their support act, The C33’s) arrived to The Trades Club to play for the Independent Venue Week, a week long celebration of music in support of those who run the grass root venues in the UK. As usual, the tickets to the gig were gone long time in advance (sometime at the beginning of December!) and many people frantically looked for any spares online. Those who purchased their passes earlier, gained entry to the venue at 4 pm. This allowed them to see a very interesting photo exhibition entitled “Cold War Steve” before anybody else. The rest of gig goers had to wait until 8 pm when the downstairs bar and a concert hall were finally made available to the public. By 8:30 pm, the place was tightly packed and the C’33’s entered the stage to showcase their talents. We have to say that the young band did fantastically well. Their 45 minute set was very pleasant to our ears, the songs were catchy (and some of them super radio-friendly!), they also had a great deal of energy and nice stage presence. We are giving them a year or two and the indie scene will have another very strong rock group! When it comes to the headliner, we think that The Blinders are incapable of playing a bad gig, as again, they were perfect! Matty and Charlie showed their incredible technical skills, Thomas sang like his life depended on it (and at one point ended singing surrounded by crowd), and the mosh pit was crazy! The concert was dedicated to the memory of Zoran, a close friend of the group who passed away just few weeks before the show at the age of 50. One of the speakers was decorated with Slovenian flag with words “Zoran, Keep The Faith” as a tribute to him. The band also prepared a special poster that was sold at the merch stand and all money collected were later given to Zoran’s family. The show started off with “Gotta Get Through” and then came the first surprise of the evening, a brand new version of “Wither” which may be the new fan-favourite song. So far “Wither” was only available in an acoustic version on Thomas Haywood’s personal Soundcloud account, but it sounds so much better with bass, an electric guitar and a powerful drum solos. “L’Etat C’est Moi” and “Brave New World” followed with “Hate Song”, “Ballad of Winston Smith” and “ICB Blues” filling the middle part of the gig. “Where No Man Comes” opened the second part and there was another surprise awaiting! Instead of the expected “Free The Slaves”, The Blinders pulled a blinder and played a brand new song, never heard before entitled “Fantasies”. Along with recently debuted “Lunatic With a Gun”, “Fantasies” are two brand new compositions that probably could end up on The Blinders’ second album which the group is very eager to record. The ending of the gig was very emotional and powerful with “Ramona Flowers”, “Rat In a Cage” and “Et Tu”, “Brutus” and “Berlin Wall” being played. The performance ended just before 11:00 pm. A small meeting with fans was also organized before the club was closed for the night.
Independent Venue Week – Trade Club poster
Independent Venue Week 2019 at the Trades Club
Power and Control – special poster prepared for the show
Grauzone Festival, The Hague, the Netherlands – now complete February took the Blinders over to the mainland Europe again as they performed on a popular festival in the Netherlands. GRAUZONE took place on 9th of February in The Hague and the line up included Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, Pink Turns Blue, The Messthetics (Fugazi members), The Cosmic Dead, Nik Void, Sink Ya Teeth and an exclusive exhibition featuring the works of Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE. Grauzone is one of the oldest and most prestigious festivals of music and counter culture in The Netherlands.
Translation: “English band, The Blinders, hailed by their domestic press and the BBC as ‘savers of the rock ‘n roll’ (together with Idles and Shame) comes exclusively to The Hague with their frenzied, obsessive live show, a madness-bordering experience that you must see. The band already plays in England to sold-out halls and big festivals and their debut album Columbia has been called ‘album of the year’ by many”. Now this is what we call a love letter to the band!
The Blinders played Kleine Zaal (The Smaller Gallery) at the Paard, some 300 meters from BillyTown (exhibition space). Their concert was set for 23:20 – 00:20 CET, between German punk rock legends, Pinks Turns Blue and The Cosmic Dead. It has been described as one of the best shows of Grauzone Festival. The Blinders played to a full, packed room despite being an unknown band in the Netherlands. Their show at ESNS received such positive reviews that the Grauzone festival organizers knew there would be a huge interest in the band. They were forced to put an official warning on their programme to let the public know to come to the venue earlier to secure a place! Fantastic achievement for a second show abroad (and their first ever in The Hague). There are no doubts – the band is on their way to establish themselves as a major player on the international rock scene! The Blinders started off with full Columbia introduction that British fans heard before each show on their Autumn tour. Dystopian propaganda talk by Patrick T. Davies mixed with “Power of Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” was greeted by cheers from the audience. When the intro was done, “Gotta Get Through” sent the Dutch public jumping and head banging. Despite the set list being neatly displayed on the walls and the stage floor, the band didn’t pay any attention to it. “Wither” came second (with changed lines and shortened second chorus) and then “L’Etat C’est Moi”, “Brave New World” and “Hate Song”. It was only then that Thomas greeted the crowd with words “Good evening! We are the Blinders from…United Kingdom!” which brought a sew short laughs (probably from UK fans who recognized that he nearly said “from Doncaster”) and massive approval from the local gig goers. “Where no man comes” followed by “Free The Slave” and both sounded a bit different again. Thomas sang in a new, more toned down way where his voice was more natural and deep. “Free the Slaves” was also cut short a bit and “ICB Blues” had a longer intro allowing Matty and Charlie to jam on stage! “Swine” with its rhythmic chorus (there is no hope…) had the audience singing along and Thomas balancing on the edge of stage, almost like he thought of jumping into the crowd before he changed his mind. “Ramona Flowers” and “Rat In a Cage” had extended parts with Matty and Charlie again going into some sort of improvised loops and Thomas half whispering-half howling into the microphone. The ending was a surprise to long standing fans as a brand new intro have been introduced before “Et Tu”. It was long, almost over a minute and sounded a bit like some sort of alarm going off. It’s quite tricky to describe but we hope fans will be able to hear in on tour in April – it was a very interesting experiment! Another new element was a part of a poem or a lyrics just before “Martyrs enters the area” part. Thomas recited “Oh are we such fools to pretend that we do not fear the end” before returning to a well known routine. The monologue between “Brutus” and “Berlin Wall” (“the shadows filling Big Brother’s hall”) gave the technical crew a migraine headache when Haywood finally decided to leave the stage and mingle with the public. The guitar cable proved to be too short for a longer walk and the technicians threw themselves to the rescue before the loudspeakers stockpiled on top of each other were thrown onto the ground! Thomas finished the set among the crowd and Matty was forced to sing all by himself. As the band disappeared into the darkness, they were seen off by applause and long cheers.
After the show, fans were thrilled and vowed to see The Blinders again. Paard Club spoke to several of them and here is an example of an enthusiastic review:
“Gig goer, Maria Kleopatra said: ‘The Blinders were the coolest band I have seen today. Great music and a very enjoyable show. This is a music scene that really appeals to my taste. I feel at home here. It is dark and dark is fun!'”
Pictures: Grauzone Festival was super kind to The Blinders. They have been photographed by fans and professionals and we even there is even a real polaroid picture taken by the wonderful Pim Schrier! You can follow him at: https://www.instagram.com/pimschrier/
Thomas Haywood solo performance (acoustic show) – now complete The Blinders are preparing to hit the US in less than a month, but that doesn’t mean they have stopped spoiling their beloved fans. Thomas Haywood, the lead singer of the band, gave a very special acoustic performance on Sunday, 24th of February at The Burton Arms in Manchester. The recently renovated pub is located right next to the Band on The Wall in the Northern Quarter part of Manchester. It was closed down for many years until the owners of The Night People have taken it under their wings with intention of turning the derelict building into a cozy bar and a small hotel. It seems to be working very well as the place has already earned good reputation among the pub goers. Thomas Haywood’s acoustic performance was the first concert in a series of intimate shows that are going to showcase the best musicians from Mancunian scene. The gig was kept a secret until the last moment – it was only announced 2 days before the show, yet on Sunday evening, the entire place was packed and many visitors sadly had to listen to the performance standing outside. Thomas started his set with one of his favourite songs – Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man”. The Blinders’ followers can sometimes hear him play it as a warm up before shows or during the social gatherings, and we have to agree, it was the perfect opener. The set was divined into two parts: the first contained a mixture of The Blinders’ songs very well known from their debut album “Columbia” and the other was filled by covers and original material. We had a pleasure of hearing “Brave New World”, “Rat in a Cage”, “ICB Blues”, “Ballad of Winston Smith” and “Ramona Flowers” in their stripped, bare versions. Without the electric bas and drums, the songs sounded completely different but you could still appreciate the excellent song writing and their complexity. The covers included Townes Van Zandt “Waiting Around to Die” and The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “(David Bowie I Love You) Since I was Six” that was skilfully merged with an original song entitled “Visions of Anais (Across the Lake)”. Thomas’ original compositions drew the most attention and for a very good reason – they were bloody brilliant. He sang “Grave of the King” that was written during his stay in Paris in May 2018 after visiting the tomb of Jim Morrison and “Gift of Gold” that can be found on Haywood’s personal Soundcloud page. The Blinders’ fans were also incredibly happy to finally hear “Acid Bath”, the first ever song written for the band circa 2015, way before their first EP “Hidden Horror Dance” that was released in 2016. We now know that the full title of the song is “Acid Bath (Princess of the Dark)” and we absolutely love it. The show ended with Thomas being all smiles and giggles, waving to friends and fans, before disappearing in the Beer garden for a well deserved drink.
South By South West (SXSW) – now complete South By South West is the biggest music event in the world. It brings over 100.000 visitors to Austin in Texas and being invited is considered the biggest honour. The Blinders were chosen to participate and it only shows how good the band truly is. The band played four shows over a week they spent in America and we can honestly tell you that they made a big, big impression on the Land of the free.
The news that The Blinders will play in Austin traveled faster than the speed of light. Within couple of days, several local BBC chapters informed their listeners about the happy news . You can listen to some of them below, they are very enthusiastic!
BBC Manchester (Natalie-Eve Williams & Michelle L Hussey on 16.02.2019 and 09.02.2019)
BBC Sheffield (Christian Carlisle on 16.02.2019)
A few great mentions for the band appeared on the radio during their stay at SXSW as well:
BBC Manchester (Natalie-Eve Williams & Michelle L Hussey on 16.03.2019)
BBC Sheffield (Christian Carlisle on 16.03.2019)
BBC Introducing Radio 1 (Huw Stephens on 17.03.2019)
SXSW Showcase number 1: Champions Restaurant & Sports Bar
The Blinders made their SXSW debut at a small showcase at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. This 5 star hotel is located in Downtown Austin, in prestigious location, just across the street from Austin Convention Center, and a short distance from 6th Street, University of Texas and the State Capitol! Their showcase took place on 12th of March at 7pm local time at Champions Restaurant & Sports Bar. It was 12:00 am on 13th of March GMT in London. The show was finished by 11:30 pm. It has to be said: this place is truly impressive with 23 large screens showing the best sporting events from all over the world. A huge stage is perfect for performances and the venue can accommodate up to 200 visitors. They are known for putting up acoustic nights that are very popular with tourists and local patrons.
As for the bands’ first American concert ever, it was a very good show. The bar was not fully packed but the crowd was very decent and what’s more important, everybody enjoyed it! Thomas wore a black coat and a pair of sunglasses and looked really cool! The show was also stripped back, Matty had no drum set, but those who have seen him previously know that if you give this man a tambourine, you will have a fully working rhythm section! Charlie played an electric bass, but it seemed to be a bit silent than usual. It wasn’t their usual in-your-face, full make-up, noisy affair, but rather a toned down, half electric, half acoustic performance. It reminded us of in-store visits The Blinders did last year before their Columbia tour. The band played for 40 minutes and they performed nearly an entire album. The visitors described it as “magical” and it truly was a spectacular set.
The second show the Blinders played at the conference was for the mighty BBC 6 Music and Steve Lamacq officially introduced the band to an American audience. The band had to wake up very early to do an interview with Steve before their evening gig and they recorded several acoustic tracks for him as well including “Brave New World”, “Rat In a Cage” and “Hate Song”.
You can listen to the interview (shared with Alex Edwards, the manager of Pip Blom plus the evening performance of “Rat In a Cage” at 1:16:52 mark. It was broadcast in the UK on 15th of March 2019: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00036vv
We all know that Steve Lamacq is a big, big fan of the Blinders and it wasn’t a surprise that he asked them to headline his show at Latitude 30, a very well known bar located in downtown Austin. The entire showcase was held under the banner of “British Music Embassy” for BBC6 Music in association with AIM. The performance started at 8:00 pm on 14th of March and ended at 2:00 am on 15th of March CST (Austin, Travis County, TX is located in Central Time Zone). It was between 12:00 am and 7 am on 15th of March GMT time (London).
The Blinders’ gig took place from 06:00 am till 07:00 am UK time.
The Blinders entered the stage as the last band of the evening, after the Mercury prize nominated artist, Novelist. It was a huge accomplishments and the public was ecstatic to see the Doncaster trio. Their show lasted full 50 minutes and we could hear “Wither”, “Free The Slaves”, “Brave New World”, “L’Etat C’est Moi”, “Gotta Get Through” and of course the in(famous) “Brutus/Et Tu/Berlin Wall” at the end. The band was described as “ferocious” and “in top form” by audience members. Steve was so pleased with them that he put them on the commercial advertising his entire stay at SXSW! It has been played every day on British radio multiple times. Do you know what he said about the performance? “A sound you can truly believe in.” Well said, Steve, well said!
SXSW Showcase number 3: End of Trail at Valhalla Tavern
The Blinders didn’t have much time to rest at all. Their third show was at Valhalla Tavern on 15th of March 2018 (capacity of 400), a popular bar and live music venue located in Austin’s famed Red River District. The bar is pretty famous for its collection of vintage gaming devices such as pinballs, pool, shuffleboard, skeeball, foosball and air hockey. The stage wascurated by Kelly Munro and his wonderful team from End of Trail Creative record label.
The show started at 7:00 pm on 15th of March and ended at 2:00 am on 16th of March CST.
In the UK, it started at 01:00 am on 16th of March and finished around 8 am GMT time (London).
The Blinders’ performance took place from 05:00 am till 06:00 am UK time.
SXSW profile for The Blinders listing all booked events
Joined on the bill with their best friends, Avalanche Party and Rascalton, the Blinders played one of their best shows at SXSW despite numerous technical issues. It was again described as wild, captivating and unreal. Their set, again was clocked at 50 minutes and contained “Gotta Get Through”, “L’Etat C’Est Moi”, “Brave New World”, “Wither”, “Free the Slaves”, “I Can’t Breathe Blues”, “Swine”, “Hate Song”, “Rat In A Cage” and “Brutus/Et Tu/Berlin Wall”.
We have teamed up with our special correspondent Lori Starke (chief photographer and reviewer at Pictures in a Row) who came up with this brilliant, world exclusive review!
“‘What REALLY knocked your socks off this week?’ was the question posed by my friend who sat next to me between sets at what was to be my last venue of SXSW 2019. ‘The Blinders! They were mad! The bass player threw his bass out into the crowd at the end!’ He said:’Do you want to see them again? They are playing a few doors down’. So I abandoned the nights’ plan and we ran down the road to the other venue! Before going to SXSW this year, I had a vague plan to see the Blinders. They were recommended to me by a friend in London, and I had checked them out on YouTube. I thought they looked interesting. I wasn’t sure if the makeup thing was a shtick, a gimmick, or what! For me, a bands’ live show makes or breaks them. I saw them for the first time at Valhalla on Friday, 15 March. I came out of that show exclaiming ‘Holy Hounds of Hell! What did I just witness?!!’ The moshpit was mad, but not the kind that are just a bunch of assholes getting their aggression out. These people were loving the band. Avalanche Party had played immediately prior at Valhalla, and they hung around to lend support, technically and morally, to the Blinders during the gig. Jordan was handing guitars and helping troubleshoot technical problems. Thomas, the singer, was focused and theatrical, without seeming fake or phony. He looks dramatic, with black smears around his eyes and down both sides of his face. He delivers his songs with intensity. He draws us in, almost Doorsian, shaman-like. The music to me also evokes a Doorsian, dystopian vibe. Charlie on bass has read the script and holds his bass up like he is pointing a machine gun at times. It doesn’t sound as dramatic as it looks when he does it, and he also delivers a focused performance. Matty, on drums, is a beast. He pounds the drums with all he is worth, and does not quit, whether being yelled out, or if the lights go out. The Friday venue was left in shambles. During the final song, “Brutus,” Thomas climbed on a speaker stack and his mic and all of the lights went off. It took some time to get a workaround, but we remained invested as an audience while we awaited the rest of the song. My theory about the mishap is that he pulled a plug out while climbing. They finished the song, the crowd pushed forward, thrashed around, went mad, and the aforementioned bass throwing happened. We wandered out onto the streets of Austin, stunned”.
Thank you so much Lori! What a description, we cannot add anything more to it.
SXSW Showcase number 4: Modern Sky gig at Beerland
The fourth and the last confirmed event for the Blinders at the SXSW took place at a popular rock place called Beerland on 16th of March. It was again located in the Red River neighbourhood, very close to super popular nightclub named Elysium. The pub opened in 2011 and hosted rock showcases for SXSW since 2015. Not a big place (capacity of 200) but it has great reviews and is considered one of the “coolest” venues to visit at the conference. There is a pool table, a life size bust of Elvis and a large patio. The Blinders performed there alongside Japanese rock group DYGL, their label-mates SPINN, The Mystery Lights (all the way from NYC) and an electro pop duo from Australia, GreenWave Beth among others. The entry to the club was strictly +21. It was the last showcase for The Blinders’ record label, Modern Sky UK at the conference.
Modern Sky showcase poster
The show started at 7:00 pm on 16th of March and ended at 2:00 am on 17th of March CST.
In the UK, it started at 12:00 am on 17th of March and finished at around 7 am GMT time (London).
The Blinders’ performance took place from 05:00 am till 06:00 am UK time.
Again we spoke to Lori, who came to witness another performance by The Blinders. Lori said that the band played exactly the same set as the night before. They started with “Gotta Get Through”, “L’Etat C’Est Moi”, “Brave New World”, “Wither”, “Free the Slaves”, “I Can’t Breathe Blues”, “Swine”, “Hate Song”, “Rat In A Cage” and finished with “Brutus”. She added: “The Blinders’ last show at Beerland was much more controlled. One of their songs, ‘Brave New World’ was dedicated to Avalanche Party, who were there giving guitar tech and moral support again. I was ready at the end of the show to video the bass throwing. But there was no bass throwing this time. Still a great and engaging show, but more controlled, not as mad. The crowd was invested, but not mental like the previous night. There were no major mishaps. to report”.
Luckily there was no technical problems this time and the band finished their first American visit on a high note. Then they had a few days of rest, had some fun and off they went back to our time zones again!
The Blinders at La Belle Angele, Edinburgh – now complete After two years of not visiting Edinburgh, The Blinders finally returned to the capitol of Scotland on 20th of March to play at beautiful venue called La Belle Angele. The show (announced just a week and a half before it actually happened!) was a sold out even in association with Sailor Jerry (Scottish producer of the finest spiced rum there is, in case you didn’t know). Local fans haven’t disappointed and the venue was full to the last space. The show started at 8:00 pm with a short set from the support act, Fabric Bear. The Blinders were on stage by 9:30 pm and their set was very similar to those played at SXSW. But nobody was complaining! They started with the Columbia into, and “Gotta Get Through”. We heard “L’Etat C’Est Moi”, “Free The Slaves”, “ICB Blues”, “Hate Song”, “Rat in a Cage”, “Brave New World” and “Where No Man Comes”. “Ramona Flowers” and “Swine” made the well received come back to the set list instead of “Whither” and the new song that appeared on several occasions – “Lunatic With a Gun” was also dropped. The show went as smoothly as possible with people having the best of times. The band promised to return again to play Glasgow on 28th of April and their statement was greeted with huge cheers from the crowd.
ORBIT – The Blinders DJ set – now complete Three days after invading Scotland, The Blinders returned to their adopted home of Manchester to try something that they have never done before – a club night!
They did DJ sets before (Ruby Lounge in Manchester in September 2018), but this was a whole new affair. Not only the band played a specifically prepared set list (chosen by them from propositions send in by bands and fans) but they also hosted two concerts: the Scuttlers and Document. It is worth mentioning that Document debuted as a band that night and one of their member is The Blinders’ guitar technician and roadie, Max Grindle. Max is an excellent guitar and bass player and we can expect great things from them!
Orbit poster by Sam Crowston
So how did the club night go? It went swimmingly well. Again it was a sold out evening. Night People is the band’s venue of choice (they played there many a time) and they couldn’t chosen a better place. The doors opened at 11:00 pm. Document were the first on stage, followed by The Scuttlers and then The Blinders overtook the dance floor. We had a chance to hear some of the best new bands (Avalanche Party, Strange Bones, Afghan Sand Gang, The Pagans SOH among others) and some of the classics (Bob Dylan, Brian Johnston Massacre, The Doors). The party lasted until the sunlight and we still haven’t had enough. There are rumors that the club night may become a permanent event so keep your eyes open!
Thomas Haywood solo show for The Wild Launch Party at 33 Oldham Street The Wild is a new start-up fashion brand from Manchester started by Harley Luv Boon, the daughter of Mancunian music scene legend, Clint Boon. The Wild offers clothing that is 100% plastic free, inspired by rock and roll, the western style of living and 60’s and 70’s pop culture. With garments named after the iconic musicians such as Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Nicks and David Bowie, The Wild can dress you up for any occasion: from your local indie summer festival to the Albert Halls of London.
The Wild Launch Party poster
The official launch party took place at the popular 33 Oldham Street restaurant/music club in Northern Quarter in Manchester on 11th of April 2019. There was a a fashion show (collection presentation) and live music from Mt. Fuji Band, Thomas Haywood and Saytr Play. The DJ set were provided by the emerging quartet Sauce, and Joshua Elliott.
Thomas played a short acoustic set that offered a mixture of The Blinders songs (“Ramona Flowers”, “Rat In a Cage”) and his personal favourites from Bob Dylan to his original compositions. Saytr Play, being headliners, played a full set with “VCR”, “Something In The Distance”, “Everyday Since”, “Thought of Missing Out” and “Bang Average”. This was a very intimate event and not many photographs or videos are available online, but if we come across any, we will definitely share them with you.
May is traditionally the beginning of the festival season. On May 5th in Newcastle, The Blinders will attend the Hit the North Festival. 120 bands will play on 12 stages across the town and more than 40.000 people are expected to attend. The Doncaster trio will be joining Jake Bugg, Tom Grennan and the “Wonder” and “Psycho” songstress, Lauren Aquilina on stage to rock you and me (and even the Salmons of Alaska).
April and May are simply massive for the Blinders! This is when their proper tour starts and they will be travelling to Germany to play in Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin! They also have a handful of domestic gigs announced as well.
April/May UK and European tour
The Ninth Wave will be supporting The Blinders on tour!
On 13th of February, it was announced that Scottish trio, The Ninth Wave will be supporting the Blinders on their tour. The band consists of Haydn Park-Patterson, Millie Kidd and Lewis Tollan. They were formed in 2016 in Glasgow and so far released several singles (“Reformation”, “Human Touch/Nothing Certain”) and “Never Crave Attention” EP on Destiller Records. 2019 is a breakthrough year for them – Ninth Wave will play SXSW with The Blinders and several concerts in NYC along with The Avalanche Party.
The tickets are already available for all the shows and we even received a nice newsletter telling us about it! The prices range from £12.00 (Birmingham) to £15 (Glasgow and London). The European tickets are priced at €17.50 (Cologne) and €20.00 (Berlin).
See Tickets Newsletter
The dates are so far:
01. Birmingham – 26th of April
02. Manchester – 27th of April
03. Glasgow – 28th of April
04. London – 30th of April
05. Cologne – 7th of May
06. Hamburg – 8th of May
07. Berlin – 9th of May
After the show, the band will make their way to their favourite club in Manchester, Night People to play a DJ set. This will be the official after party to thank their family members, friends and fans for their support. The Band will be DJ’ing from 11:00pm and the celebration will lasts till 4am on Sunday. Tickets are £2 if you have the tickets to the gig at the Ritz, and £5 if you are only coming to the club. The places are limited so, please grab the ticket as quickly as you can.
Please be aware that more European shows will be added to this section!
After touring Germany, the band will come back to British soil to entertain their fans in Leeds. Gold Sounds is a festival dedicated to shoegaze, punk, psychedelia, noise and grunge. It will be held at Brudenell Social Club over two days in May. The show will start on 11th of May at 2 pm and will close at 2 am on the 12th. Previous guests include Yuck, Cabbage, Cloud Nothings, The Wytches, Homeshake, Turnover, The Big Moon, Merchandise & Cheatahs. Appearing at Gold Sounds 2019, besides The Blinders, are Fat White Family, Her’s, Pip Blom, The Beths, Viagra Boys, The Nude Party, Hand Habits, Just Mustard, Weakened Friends, Working Men’s Club, TRIXIE WHITLEY, Vulgarians, bdrmm, FEHM, LUMER and LYLO. Tickets cost only £35 for a weekend pass – it is a bargain for 25 bands and two stages! It has been announced that The Blinders will headline Saturday 11th of May but extended scheduling times are not yet available. We will be notifying you as soon as we know!
Saturday, 25th of May, will see The Blinders performing in Warrington at the Neighbourhood Festival! The band will be joining George Ezra, Primal Scream (headliners), You Me at Six, Nothing But Thieves, Tom Grennan, The Hunnas, Embrace, Pale Waves and Gaz Coombes (of Supergrass) among others. We don’t have the stage details or time schedule yet but once it is announced, you will find it all here.
Day later, on Sunday the 26th of May, the Blinders will also participate in Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering Festival in Catton Hall in Derbyshire. The line up this year looks amazing. Suede are the headliners, Reef, Justin Sullivan of New Model Army and The Wildhearts are all making glorious come backs. The trio will be in great company so again, grab tickets while they are still here – the festival is rather small and it sold out last year. We are sure the history will repeat itself in 2019.
Between 11th and 19th of June, The Blinders will again travel to The Netherlands to play at the independent Valkhof Music Festival. The festival takes place in Valkhof Park in the city of Nijmegen (Gelderland province, close to the German boarder). Nijmegen is a very beautiful market town that hosts a number of popular musical events and conferences throughout summer. Valkhof Festival is quite famous in Europe and brings thousands of fans of electronic, industrial, goth and indie music to town. It has 4 stages situated all over the park (one is in the ruins of medieval castle!) and 120 bands from all over the world are usually playing. Except for The Blinders, the festival’s line up includes Sudan Archives, Fontaines D.C., BO NINGEN, black midi, Jonathan Bree and Whispering Sons among others. Detailed time schedule is not available yet but the entry to the festival is free.
Valkhof Festival Logo
The Festival posted a very nice description for the band that reads: “The distance between Nijmegen and Manchester is about 760 km by car. It is far, but we are confident that The Blinders will give a splendid performance at the festival! These “Mancunians” as they are known, have the music in their DNA and their debut album ‘Columbia’ is a perfect example. The album is as raw as Sex Pistols, stubborn as The Fall and melodic as The Verve. Don’t forget the melodrama taken straight out of the records made by The Smiths! Their lyrics show inspiration drew from various sources – from Leonard Cohen, George Orwell to the mismanagement caused by Theresa May & Co. The band is just brilliant, aren’t they?”
Another show announced was the mini festival with the Blossoms, The Coral, Cabbage and the Fuzzy Sun. Bad news, it is sold out again, this time in a record time of 30 minutes. Those lucky ones who were able to buy the tickets, will enjoy the great show at Stockport County FC stadium in Edgeley Park on Saturday 22nd of June 2019. You can see more info on Blossoms page: https://www.facebook.com/blossomsband/
Stockport County Football Club grounds poster
A week later, on 30th of June, the band will travel to Exeter to visit the beautiful Powderham Castle to participate in Sunday Sessions Exeter. The Blinders will join a fantastic line up including Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Charlatans, Reverend And The Makers and The Loft Club among many other acts. Stage times are not available yet, but we will update this entry as they are announced.
July and they are off to Europe again! This summer, The Blinders will get a lot of stamps in their passports. They have been booked to play KLIKO Festival in The Netherlands! What do we need to know? Patronaat is one of the largest and most prestigious independent venues in the Netherlands. It is located in Zijlsingel part of Haarlem, near the city centre. The venue has been operating since 1984 and hosted international and national stars of the highest calibre. Once a year, in July, Patronaat is also the home of KLIKO Festival dedicated to grunge, psychedelic and garage rock. This year, the indoor festival will take place on 13th-14th of July and at least 25 bands will play at three different stages from 19:00 pm till 06:00 am CET! It will be the loudest all nighter in the city and you don’t want to miss it. If you want some statistics (and we all love stats!!), the Main Hall is for 1000 visitors, second stage (called the Second Hall) is able to accommodate 350 guests and the smallest rock bar (named of course, The Third Hall) will be perfect for smaller gigs up to 120 people. Annually over 500 events are organized at Patronaat (at least 3 events per week) and 140.000 people are visiting its premises.
KLIKO Fest gave the Blinders this beautiful recommendation on their official website:
“The Blinders are the band that is on everyone’s lips these days thanks to their spectacular indie rock shows. The power trio from Manchester released their long-awaited debut album ‘Columbia’ last September and it brings together the best of 60’s garage rock, Beat poetry and Orwell’s dystopia. After their steamy show at ESNS 2019, they are ready to leave a lasting impression on Kliko”. Book your tickets now!
A very nice review for the band! Thank you KLIKO!
On 15th-18th of August, The Blinders will be performing at The Beautiful Days festival in Devon. It is considered one of the best independent festivals in the UK. It is the Levellers’ independent family music festival organised by DMF Music which takes place at Escot Park in Devon and has been running for 16 years. The festival has several stages, amazing site art, a huge children’s area, comedy, theatre, family camping, real ale bars from Otter Brewery & a great choice of food and craft stalls. Beautiful Days has no sponsorship, branding and does not advertise. The festival won the Grass Roots Festival Award at the 2015 UK Festival Awards and Best Medium Festival in the FestivalKidz.com 2015 Awards. They were shortlisted for Best Medium Sized Festival at the 2016 UK Festival Awards. The festival also made it through to the final shortlists in the 2017 UK Festival Awards for 3 awards and won Best Medium Festival at the 2017 Festival Kidz Awards. The Blinders will join Skunk Anansie, Ziggy Marley, The Levellers, The Stranglers (Official), Sleaford Mods, Songhoy Blues, Peter Hook & The Light, The Black Seeds, Kate Rusby and at least 100 more acts that will be announced soon. The stage times are not available at the moment but we will be updating the diary!