The Blinders talk debut album, current tour and austerity in Britain

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The Blinders

After releasing their debut album, Columbia, last month, Doncaster three-piece The Blinders spoke to Getintothis’ Amos Wynn ahead of their UK tour.

Blinders bassist Charlie McGough says the band were ‘certainly’ ready to release their album after recording it last year, meaning “it was there so long it is good to get back in touch with some of the songs.”

With Columbia finally out, fans will now have a chance to listen all the songs before seeing the band play live.

“I look forward to seeing the reaction for songs like Brutus, which is the centre-piece of the album, because even though we have been playing it for 18 months it hadn’t been properly recorded.”

As well as that it will also be the first time some of the songs will be played live, “apart from a couple of acoustic sessions, so yeah it will be nice to hear the reaction.”

A range of songs from the band’s catalogue was used on the record, with both old and new featuring after originally only going into the studio to record an EP.

We went in with half a dozen songs which we intended to record but it wasn’t clear we were doing an album. We then started to write songs based on dystopian literature, trying to reflect real world issues and today’s society.”

Writing about the world we live in is something that was well and truly in the minds of the Doncaster band, also comprised of Thomas Haywood and Matty Neale.

McGough says “it is something we wanted to speak about; we wanted to allude to it by using metaphorical language. When you read dystopian literature, you can’t help but spot the similarities in today’s society.”

Despite wanting the message within the album, the band didn’t want the record to be just about 2018.

We didn’t want it to be lost; we wanted it to be a timeless thing with themes that appeal to more than that which is happening today.”

A lot of the ideas in Columbia come from their surroundings growing up in Doncaster.

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I think it had a massive impact. It’s an old mining town and the decline, poverty and austerity is clear to see in the communities. I don’t want to put it down as a dead town but at times you can see the effect of politics everywhere you walk.”

McGough is a big believer in a person’s surroundings shaping their life and “it has shaped ours massively and we wouldn’t be the same band if we come from a different background or town as it shapes our views.”

As well as writing new songs, the band also felt it was right to use some of the older ones “due to some of the lyrics and because we wanted this album to document the past couple of years and the live shows that got us to this point.”

We were also conscious that although we were trying to appeal to new fans, we also wanted to appeal to people who have come to see us for the past couple of years. A couple didn’t fit either lyrically or sonically, but we got a few in.”

To accompany the album a big UK tour is now underway, with the band excited to start.

It’s what we live for, it is what we do, it has always been our bread and butter being on the road and playing shows, so we can’t wait to hit the road.”

McGough has picked out some of the shows they are looking forward to with Liverpool’s Arts Club being one of them, describing it as “one of the best venues in the country.”

Places like Aberdeen, which we haven’t played before, will be quite interesting and a good night. sometimes you play thinking it will be a rough night and it turns out great; and you get some that you think will be great but then the amp explodes, it’s hard to tell before you get there.”

Manchester is another ‘huge’ one for the band with the three-piece now living there as well as having fond memories of playing sell out shows there and having a ‘great’ crowd.

The Blinders

In the summer they had the ‘special’ experience of playing Reading and Leeds, but for next year are aiming higher as they hope to play the ‘Holy Grail’ and perform at Glastonbury.

I’ve been a couple of times and next year would be ideal to play. I also want to go abroad and am slightly frustrated that we haven’t been around Europe.”

Charlie has known Tom since an early age, playing football together. At school the two had guitar lessons and had the ‘passion’ just to play.

By the time we got to sixth form we were in the position to start a band; we were obviously into music and it felt like the natural step. We then recruited Matt from another band and the rest is history.

Of all the suggestions for a band name, The Blinders, after the TV series, came off the cuff, and “was the best one.”

The musical influences around the band have changed over the years, with things from the Arctic Monkeys to Nick Cave all having impact. “We all come together and push the sound in different directions as we pick things up from different areas.”

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As well as music, literature, art and poetry are a huge part of the band’s identity, with John Cooper Clarke and George Orwell having impacts. They also go beyond music by looking at what other artists took their influence from.

McGough enjoys the stereotypical hobbies that most 21-year-old lads do such as playing sport, going to the pub or supporting other bands in Manchester, but a lot of the focus is working on new songs, after spending the summer writing towards album two.

There’s not a lot of time to let our hair back and we all do a lot of writing individually.”

A follow up to Columbia is at the forefront of the mind for the band. “We went to get into the studio after spending a lot of summer writing, but for the moment we will turn our attention to the tour and focus on setlists.

We always try to take inspiration and usually walk around Manchester with a notepad; sitting in a coffee shop and watching the world go by is a good key.”

They do hope over the next 12 months that they can produce this new album which will take their sound ‘in a new direction’ as well as keeping the focus of going abroad. Whatever happens for the band, with the album out, they are entering a brave new world.

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