Interview: The Blackout
I'm sure many of you older (but still before your use-by date) CLICers remember Battle Of The Bands last year, right?
Well, it is returning this year, and this time round, one of the prizes is going to be a chance to play alongside a successful Welsh band from Merthyr Tydfil, The Blackout, at a new festival called Merthyr Rock!
We caught up with Gavin, one of the band's vocalists, to ask him a few questions about it.
The winners of the CLIC Battle Of The Bands will be openening the main and second stages at Merthyr Rock. Do you think it's important to support younger Welsh bands?
Definitely, it's the only way for people to get that break. It happened with us, like Lostprophets gave us our first big chance, so I think it's very important to encourage new bands and make sure others know about what's happening.
Do you think Merthyr Rock will become a big thing in the future?
I'd hope so. The Ponty festival happened not long back and that was really successful. The only reason it stopped was because of the council, I think. This year, if Merthyr Rock gets off to a flying start, it could become a very big thing.
It must be great to be able to be a part of the start of a festival that could become such a big thing. Are you excited about it?
It's crazy to be able to headline it. We're very honoured. We'd played at the park where the festival will be held before, in 2006, where they had a small festival of about ten people, so to go back there headlining a big festival will be mental.
Which song that you've done so far has been your favourite, and why?
It's ike choosing favourite child! The Storm is coming out in August and is one of my favourites because it's something new we tried. We drew on inspirations we hadn't really drawn on before. I'm most proud of that one because we took a chance with it and it came out great.
Can we expect you to be playing new songs at Merthyr Rock?
Probably, because our next headline tour isn't until October, and we're hoping to play a bunch of new songs there. We'll try out some new songs and see how they go down.
Has your latest album been recieved well?
Yeah, it's always hard releasing new material because I've seen it so many times where fans say, "It's not as good as the old stuff." If you listen to it, it is better, but it's changed slightly. It's not good when bands put in so much effort, just to be told it's not as good as their old stuff. It's been an all positive response for us though, which is mind-blowing. You can only write music for yourself and hope others like it, and that's happened for us.
Your third album, The Best In Town, was released in America. Do you think the band has a future over there?
We didn't release this last one in America, but it's a tough place, it's very big and you have to spend six months there touring to make a dent. There's no plans for the moment, but we'd love to get back out there. There's nothing in the pipeline at the moment. Hopefully, we'll be talking to some labels about some American release. Nothing definite.
Is being Welsh something that's important to the band?
I think Wales has a lot of good music and good bands. Where we're from there's not a lot to do, so people take up music for something to do, and that's how we started. It was something we could do on the weekend, and then somehow some people thought we were good enough to make a record, and people thought we were good enough to see live. I think we all like where we come from, and any Welsh band will tell you the same. I think it's not a national pride thing, it's more of a family atmosphere in the valleys between all the bands, and if anyone needs any help with anything we can go to each other for help. A lot of us practice in the same studios, so it's very close-knit, and that's inspired other bands in Wales to get started. We saw a Welsh band like Lostprophets do well, so we thought, "We can do this too."
Where do you see the band being in a year's time?
Hopefully just writing music. It's really hard for a band to just stay a band these days. Not many bands around now have been together for more than ten years, but those who do put in the hard work to stay together. All we can wish for is to keep our heads afloat.
Would you rather have a flying dragon or a teleporting unicorn as a method of transport?
That's tough. A flying dragon would breathe fire, but then a tetleporting unicorn... one of the worst parts of being in a band is sitting in a van for ages. But I'm going to go for the dragon so I can just go out flying from time to time.
IMAGE: Marianne Harris