How did you take to the greater vulnerability that being a front man of a band?
It was a definitely a challenge, really scary at first. I was never really interested in fame, I always felt that popularity was a by-product of the music industry. I just wanted to go out there and make music. I had never fronted a band, but I found that fear motivates you. Its funny being in a band like Bleach Blood because we’ve got one of the great voices in British Punk; Paul Mullen. He’s been in The Automatic and Youcodenameis:milo and I’m the one doing all the singing! But he’s been really great in giving me support and help wherever I needed it. Ultimately I found that taking this challenge became a really fun and rewarding experience.
What’s the difference between the feeling you get writing/performing politically aware, socially conscious music and the more personal, introspective songs of Bleach Blood?
It was actually really refreshing. I was getting a lot of those feelings out into the open for the first time. I was never the principle song writer in the King Blues and I think I have a very different process. Even though I am a political person and that’s where my previous band’s interests lay, I don’t think I could write those kinds of songs. I try not to restrict myself to the kinds of music I want to play. No matter what the type of music all that really matters is that it comes from the heart. You can’t legitimise yourself with genre, only with passion.
So would you consider your band to have an eclectic range in music?
Yeah I would. I can’t just do what people expect of me. I can’t just sit and write one type of song. I’ve got loads of different influences from loads of places people wouldn’t expect. I‘ve done dance and rock and various other forms of music. I’ve not just been influenced by indie and punk, although I don’t think anyone can listen to too much Black Flag. People have to realise that musicians who are inspired by the punk movement don’t necessarily go on to write punk songs. Elements of punk music wind up in all kind of genres.
Can you take us through the process of writing new music for a new band as a therapeutic experience?
Everything I think I’ve written since the King Blues broke up ties into where I was emotionally at the time. I was in a very bad place, I felt very defeated. I just started writing songs while holed up in my bedroom in a warehouse in Manor House. I had no direction or goals at this time I just knew I had to keep writing, it was like a matter of life or death for me, I just had to get these feelings out. I showed a bunch of stuff I wrote to a friend of mine, a guy called Paul, one of my favourite writers. It all went from there and before I even knew it I had the EP written. I took the EP to my old label and they were really supportive and gave me loads of encouragement.
It was actually really good to start writing something that had nothing to do with my last band, just felt really good to have a clean break and start from zero again.
The most important thing when you’re listening or making music is positivity. Even if the music is angry or bitter, it needs to let you express those feelings so you can return to a state of positivity.
Was the new electric side of the music an organic progression for you or were you deliberately looking into what you could do to differentiate yourself from your former band?
I didn’t think about it to be honest. I didn’t want anything too similar. I just started playing everything I could think of and grew a sound from that. I looked at my record collection and started looking for inspiration there. I’m a music fan first before I’m a musician, I listen to all kinds of stuff like I said before, LCD Soundsystem, Santigold. I don’t give myself boundaries on what I take inspiration from.
What was you listen to while you were recording?
There wasn’t really one thing at the time that was like a real number one influence, it all happened pretty organically. Although I do remember that I Was Born in a Rave came from me wanting to write a Riot Girl song. After what I had already written for that it seemed to fit pretty neatly over the top. We try not to tie ourselves to any particular genre or scene, I wouldn’t say anyone was particularly wrong in trying to do that, but if we want to do something really poppy we’ll do something really poppy, and if we want to do hardcore, we’ll do hardcore.
How’s the reception to the music and the gigs been?
It’s been really great which is awesome as it was really scary putting something else out there for the first time. I knew it was different and perhaps not what people were expecting, so I was really making myself vulnerable. I think that really bonded the band together because no one knew what the reaction would be.
Have what people been saying what you wanted them to about the music?
I think once you put the music out there it no longer belongs to you. That’s the beauty of music. You get together with your friends and hear it for the first time, you might think one thing, but your friend might think something totally different to you. And that might be totally different to the person who wrote it. I mean, I have my own ideas and I know what it means to me, but everyone has their own interpretations.
Where would you like music to take you in the next five/ten years?
I think we’re really gonna try and play it by ear. We don’t have a plan or a manifesto. We’re not saying that we want this to go on forever or that we’re just gonna do this one album. It’s a very relaxed process and we’ll only stop when it’s not fun anymore.
Ultimately I want whatever band I’m in to do as well as it can and to surpass all the expectations people have about them. I think that you have to take it as far and as hard as you can. If you don’t have that drive then you probably shouldn’t be in a band.
It’s the UK’s Record Shop Day today. What was your first experience in buying an album?
When I was twelve years old I heard my brother playing this music in his bedroom and I was always sneaking in to try and get a look at the case to see what it was called. It’s name was Dookie by this band called Green Day. So I went down to this place called Our Price and I couldn’t look over the counter because I must have only been about three foot tall. I was too nervous talking to the assistant so I ended up buying Kerplunk with the money my mum gave me.
How important is the independent record shop to you?
It’s really important to have that personal touch when you’re trying to buy music. Music is a very personal thing and you have to have a lot of passion to be able to give people good recommendations. I recently went to the ten year anniversary of All Ages the only independent Punk and Hardcore record shop left in the UK. Sometimes I just go into a shop like that and start looking at album covers, asking about them and just saying “Yeah I’ll buy that!”
What impact do you think more modern developments like social media have had on the industry?
I’m addicted to a lot of social media, I use stuff like Twitter and Facebook all the time. It just makes me cringe whenever the artist using it thinks that it’s more important than actually writing the music. When they think they should be known more for the things they say while the records out than the record itself.
People use to say some wild shit all the time but now it’s all in public. When Thatcher died earlier this week I found myself for once taking a step back from the debate and just listening to the people who lived all through her regime, like my stepdad who was born in Liverpool.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Yeah, our EP’s out its called The Young Heartbreakers Club, we’ve got a single called Anything Anything and we’re touring with the mighty Sharks in April.
Finally, ever going to live up to your name and make a Jazz record?
Wow I think you’re the first person to ask me that. I’ll have to learn some more chords and time structures first. You know what? It probably isn’t going to happen.
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