Talk Show Host: 004: Blindness

For my first new interview on in four years or so – I’ve only ever conducted interviews with bands on an “as and when” basis, if I’m being honest – I’ve thrown a few questions the way of one of London’s brightest prospects right now, Blindness. These were questions e-mailed to the band, and entirely unedited. For the benefit of readers of this, who might be new to the band – can you give us a quick recap of how Blindness came about? (I understand the band was originally under a different name?)
Debbie: In the beginning there was Beth. And Beth said ‘Let there be Noise’. And lo, Debbie did appear wielding guitars and pedals and made a joyful noise unto Beth. “That’s all very well” quoth Beth, “especially that squealy thing you do with the feedback, but where’s the bottom end?” Yea, Beth & Debbie searched high and low, even unto South London, until they found the band Flame On and nicked their bass player Kendra. And there was a mighty rejoicing in the land of North London for a time, and The Noise flourished, until verily they said unto themselves ‘We could do with some live drums to REALLY kicketh butt’. And I say unto thee that Debbie discovered Alex at a bus stop in Stokey, and brought him within the rehearsal room, where he did pound the skins mightily. And they saw that it was good.
Kendra: I like to claim I was poached, but that’s not strictly true! I met Beth many moons ago at a venue in Hackney when both our old bands were put on the same line up by chance. This marked the beginning of a beautiful noise making partnership, albeit in separate bands at the time. When Beth and Debbie started working together, I was approached to supply the bass end and backing vocals. The band I was in was coming to an end so I jumped at the chance. I was chuffed to be asked! There are clear influences in your sound: was this a conscious decision to have a sound that carried on the lineage of those bands, or simply the way things worked out?
Beth: I don’t know if it’s a conscious decision, more of a natural process, I guess. A lot of the music that inspires me when I listen to it is also the music that inspires me when I write and perform.
D: My guitar playing is a mixture of all the players I admire, and sometimes I do consciously think of using a particular person’s style for a part, but as I invariably am not as good as they are it tends to all get churned up into something else, which quite suits the group.
K: Bass wise, I just play the sounds I love and hopefully in my own way! There is a core cross over of influences, but I think the difference comes about in the combination of our individual responses to them and the stuff we listen to and like that may not necessarily be shared within the group. Many Blindness songs appear intensely personal. Are the lyrics broadly from personal experience?
B: Mostly, in some way, yes. How does the song-writing process work within the band?
D: Beth comes in with the beginnings of the song, then we all kick it around until we think it’s learned it’s lesson.
K: Quite often the structure is already there when Beth brings something to the table in rehearsal. I listen to the track, get the overall feel and think how the bass can push it or add to it before I start playing. We work with bass synth lines a lot, so I try to be sensitive to this and write something that doesn’t generate a muddy clash (unless that’s the aim!). Sometimes a more rhythmical line over melodic works best. You get the best of the both these worlds with a bass.
B: Yeah, sometimes something just clicks really quickly, others need a little more time before they start falling into place. North London seems a fertile breeding ground for new music right now – what other bands would you recommend that you’ve come across?
K: Deux Furieuses. Hands down. Pure, no nonsense rock and roll. Brilliant.
B: Deux Furieuses, definitely. Quite a fan of The Light Shines, too.
D: As K said, Deux Furieuses are great, also I like Hunting Party and The Fauns. And looking further beyond, what music are you listening to at the moment?
B: American band A*Star are making great noises. I’m also still listening to the last Fiona Apple album and the new Nick Cave album.
D: Right now it’s all about m b v and Viv Albertine‘s new album The Vermillion Border. Both are genius in different ways. And incidentally contain two of my favourite guitarists.
K: I’m listening to Ultraista a lot. I love electronics and am a sucker for a good melody so this really floats my boat, plus I’m a big fan of Nigel Godrich. And I can’t not mention the new MBV album- words I never thought I’d hear myself say! And How to Destroy Angels. What are the next steps for the band?
D: Forward.
B: Who knows?
K: More gigs, more releases and more noise in general.

New single Last One Dies is out this week, see their Bandcamp page from Monday 18-March, and I review the EP here. All photos from my own collection.

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