By Kieran Webber
The Blinders have spent the past few years perfecting and harnessing their dystopian, thrusting rock sound. This culminated in visceral live shows and the critically acclaimed debut album ‘Columbia’.
Now the band are gearing up to release the sophomore album ‘Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath’, out July 17th. In addition to this was a full tour that would of seen the band play the infamous 100 club, London. Unfortunately the Covid-19 crisis made this impossible but the tour has been rescheduled to September (fingers crossed).
We caught up with bassist Charlie McGough to speak about the forthcoming album, life in lockdown and much more.
Kieran: What have you guys been doing during lockdown and how have you found it?
Charlie: We’ve been good thank you. As with everyone, there have been some bleak moments but they’re contrasted with instances of beauty and inspiration. I think we’re very fortunate to be creative people and to find fulfillment in writing. We therefore tend to try and build our days around that and as long as you progress something or create something you can relax knowing it’s been a relatively successful day.
Kieran: Did you find with the extra time you were able to write more music?
Charlie: As the time has progressed the ability, and to a degree the will, to write music has come back. This wasn’t so much the case at the start. Perhaps that’s because we were really gearing up to tour and were ready to promote Fantasies. When those plans got halted it was quite debilitating. We were still writing or keeping creative but it wasn’t necessarily going in a musical direction. As we start to come out of lockdown you become slightly more re-energised and you can start to visualise the future and see where the outlets are going to come. Music is therefore starting to flow a bit more freely at the moment.
Kieran: Your new album ‘Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath’ is out July 17th, what was the influence behind it and how will it differ from ‘Columbia’?
Charlie: ‘Columbia’ was deeply entrenched in dystopia and the politics of the day. This album branches out a bit. Yes, there’s still politics and the lyrics touch upon global affairs but there’s also a lot more of us. It feels like our personal anxieties come and mingle with our global anxieties as we reach a bit of a crossroads in our life. What the album therefore does is it picks up on individual parts of our personalities and explores them in a fanatical way, it accentuates them. Our lives in general therefore become the central influence of this record and that was important for us.
Listen to the latest single ‘The Mule’ here:
Kieran: In terms of recording and writing what was done differently?
Charlie: For this record we ended up working with a new producer in Rob Ellis and we recorded at Eve Studios. We wanted to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and create an environment in which we knew we would create something alternate to what had come before. Rob was pivotal in helping us do that. He pushed us in new directions, approached the songs in a way we wouldn’t have thought to do and really got on board with us trying to build this album which had a cinematic feel. We were also a lot more prepared. We had more songs and a clearer vision of what it was we are trying to achieve. That clarity of thought seems to be vital when trying to create an album.
Kieran: In this album you look inwards and deal with drug use, mental health and lack of faith in humanity, was it hard to write such a deep and honest album?
Charlie: Writing music or lyrics tends to be a form of therapy for us. It’s a way of addressing the day, addressing what’s gone on and in some ways helping us move on. Although it may feel uncomfortable to hear your own voice in certain songs it felt like it was quite an important step for us. The subject matter in the album may feel dark at points but it didn’t feel like it was a dark album to put together, in fact it was quite the opposite. I think that comes down to the fact that the music provides that release and helps us move from what may be a dark place into one of hope and positivity.
“Yes, there’s still politics and the lyrics touch upon global affairs but there’s also a lot more of us.”Charlie McGaugh – The Blinders
Kieran: There is a dystopian feel to your music and I know you are fans of George Orwell but is there any other similar influences and why?
Charlie: As we mentioned earlier, this album doesn’t have one crutch it explicitly leans on sonically nor lyrically. Sonically I think actually the big thing for this record is that we’d maybe inexplicitly found our sound. We didn’t therefore find ourselves trawling through music libraries for influences. The songs kind of just came naturally and sounded very comfortable. Similarly with the lyrics, literature continues to be a big influence but there isn’t one overarching influence. Instead we magpie from a lot of wider sources. Oscar Wilde, Steinbeck, Edgar Allen Poe are just a few names that spring to mind of the kind of stuff that we were reading at this time. I think we just tend to look for classic authors to read and try and absorb the way they write, take on their philosophies and practices and try and apply it in some way to what you do. It’s not often that we will read a book and don’t at least feel triggered to write at least one thing from it.
Kieran: The phrase rock n roll is dead is tossed about a lot, what do you feel about that statement?
Charlie: It depends what you mean by ‘rock n roll’, really. Guitar music is far from dead and won’t die as long as people are picking up instruments and wanting to do something different with them. I don’t think people need to be offended that guitar music is not perhaps exactly the vogue these days. There’s a lot of wonderful music that’s not ‘rock n roll’ which deserves to take centre stage. People who are overtly tribal with their music, and we all fall for it sometimes, are short changing themselves. I see a lot of people bemoan the lack of ‘rock n roll stars’ these days, though. I’m not really sure why. I’m not sure we need those personas anymore to make music interesting.
Kieran: What are five bands/artists you have all been listening to lately?
Charlie: I loved the Sorry album, 925. That was on heavy rotation at the start of lock down and right now I’m loving the Pottery record. The new Bob Dylan album is obviously a fabulous piece of work. Jehnny Beth’s solo record is great and the Run The Jewels album is timely and powerful.