After their storming set at this year’s ArcTanGent, we caught up with drummer Steven Pellatt from Blackpool based cinematic rock outfit, blanket for a quick chat about albums, influences and soggy football mascots…
Things have moved pretty quickly for you guys. Formed in 2016, released your first 12” in the same year and signed to Music for Nations/Sony in 2017. What do you put this speedy success down to?
Things have definitely moved along pretty fast for us since starting out. I’d put it down to a number of things, for one we’ve been a very proactive band from the get go, we don’t let time pass by from one thing to the next as were always thinking of a next step, how to improve. From recording our first EP to making our first full length there’s been a lot of work and thought put in. Secondly were always looking to play as many shows as possible and work hard on making our live show as memorable as possible – from our visuals to light shows and set lists for certain tours. With Bobby’s (Pook – guitar/vocals) involvement and experience in the visual / music video world we used that to our advantage too and made a number of music videos to accompany some of the tracks from Our Brief Encounters, this also helped get our name and our music out there and gather interest. From making that EP we got into dialogue with Music For Nations and our deal with them was born from there. It’s not been a quick process but within the two years we’ve been a band we have got a fair bit done although were more than aware that there is a lot further to go with this and we’re looking forward to that.
There are a lot of post-rock bands around these days, what is it that you think makes you stand out?
We love bands such as Hammock, Maybeshewill, and Explosions In the Sky and having toured with Tides Of Man, Lost In Kiev, and Coldbones we’ve definitely got an affinity to post-rock. However, with our first album having half the tracks with vocals, and with future material heading in the same direction – less 10 minute tracks – were looking to develop our sound and how people perceive us into something further than a straight up instrumental band. A big aspect of our live shows includes synced visuals to the music so we’ve been labelled as ‘cinematic rock’ previously by some, which suits I’d say. Circa Survive, Bon Iver, Slowdive, Mew, and Radiohead are kind of within that area of music we wish to be in ultimately and we hope that shows in our music. There will always be post-rock inspired elements to our music
You’re from Blackpool, not a place generally known for its cerebral cinematic musical output as opposed to somewhere like Glasgow. How has it been, based there, starting a band?
Blackpool doesn’t really have a band ‘scene’ or list of venues even comparable to Glasgow unfortunately. We only have two venues here, there are a lot of enthusiastic and creative people but ultimately it’s a seasonal resort aimed at ploughing money into tourism and not the arts unfortunately. We do have the Rebellion Punk festival here each year though, that is great for the town but that’s just one event. To be honest none of us for the past 6 years or more have been in deep rooted ‘Blackpool’ bands, and whilst we all still live here and have ties to the place it’s been on the road that has been the building process with Blanket.
Looking back individually we had to get out of the town and play in bands that would tour and not be grounded here, to gain a good slice of our experience in music. With Bobby being in MevsHero he’d toured extensively and worked with big producers on their records, played festivals like Sonisphere, something that would not have been presented to him sticking around here in our hometown. It was the same with Simon (Morgan – guitar) and myself, we played in Midas Fall for a number of years, I did a lot of touring with them in Europe and the UK up until 2015, playing on four of their records. Sheldon and his band Scouts/Big Nothing also toured and released albums/EP’s not local to Blackpool.
Your album, How to Let Go, was released this year. How have you found the response to it? You’ve got some pretty amazing reviews from people like the Independent, Kerrang and Total Guitar.
We’ve been fortunate to have the support and guidance of such a great label in Music For Nations who fully understood what we were trying to achieve with How To Let Go, where we want to see ourselves as a band and have been behind us from the first moment. With such support we’ve managed to get some great reviews from major publications, also airplay on Daniel. P. Carter’s rock show on BBC Radio 1 and also high praise from Alex Baker on Kerrang Radio’s fresh blood show. It’s all hugely appreciated and we just hope that we can build on this and get our music out to more and more people.
What would you say your main influences are?
All four of us collectively can agree on a bunch of bands and artists we like but in a way our personal influences do stem off a little into other areas of music. We each made a Spotify playlist last year and they all feature a pretty wide range of music; Converge, Dillinger, Nothing, Botch, Sigur Ros, Mew, This Patch Of Sky, Olafur Arnaulds, Ludovico Einaudi, it jumped across the spectrum a fair bit. Sheldon has an extensive knowledge and love of Hardcore/Punk bands, he likes Power Trip and Negative Approach to name just a couple, on a non-musical level he also likes Seinfeld a lot. We also have a Burgers review page on Instagram called ‘Blanket Burgers – Our Beef Encounters’ – a bad pun on our first EP title – we review the finest burger establishments whilst on tour, we’re gathering quite a collection.
I’m always interested to know how cinematic bands go about writing songs. What is your process of coming up with a new song?
As for song writing we all bring ideas to the band for new songs and then work collectively on refining them and working them into shape to then take into the studio. We have an online folder with about 100 songs in it and some make the cut and some don’t, we’ve definitely got a clear process down with song writing now. Sometimes we will be well into the latter stages and a new song will suddenly enter the mix, as with ‘Turn Ourselves To Stone’ a song that was finished at a quicker pace than the rest of the album.
What are your upcoming plans?
Our upcoming plans are to be on tours/support tours over the next 6 months onwards and into festival season next year. We’ve also started pre-production and writing for the second album so we will be continuing with that, it’s early days but we like to be prepared and stay constantly creative. As for any opportunities aside from live shows and studio time we’ve always said we would like to work on scoring films and music for television if that ever came up as an option.
Ok, last question. Ian Holloway, Paul Ince, Sam Allardyce or Gary Bowyer?
It’s either Allardyce or Holloway. Bowyer did a great job considering the clubs situation though but I believe Paul Ince’s time at the club doesn’t fare as well in supporter’s opinions unfortunately. I used to go to every game in the 1995/1996 season, back when the ground represented a dilapidated shed pretty much. A man in an old grizzled, soggy ape suit called ‘Tango’ (tenuous link to the clubs colours) used to walk around the pitch before the matches advertising the club lottery game – he was supposed to be a friendly club mascot but it absolutely terrified the kids. That season we got to the play-off semi-finals against Bradford, losing the 2nd leg 3-2 and Allardyce was sacked as a result, even now in hindsight it was a harsh decision given the season we’d had but he went on to bigger things anyway. Holloway would be my pick though I’d say, the fans were sore when he left for Palace but getting Blackpool into the Premier League will always be remembered as an ultimate highlight. Two of the better managers we’ve seen at Bloomfield Road over the years. Fortunately though Tango is long gone.
Blanket’s latest album How to Let Go is out now.