The Blackout released their second album ‘Best In Town’ in May 2009, which was a big progression from the bands earlier material. We caught up with Gavin Butler and James Davies backstage at their Norwich UEA Kerrang Tour gig to talk about the last year.
The album has been out for 9 months now, how do you feel about the album looking back on it?
Gavin: We are still really proud of the album, very much so, as a standalone object. I think it still stands out as a really good record. As of where it went, maybe not so much. I don’t think it sold as well as the last record, but then we are doing bigger shows. It seems kids aren’t buying records, they are just downloading it. As a record though, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.
Do you think that downloading is having a negative effect on music in general, and The Blackout? or do you think it’s bringing more people to the shows?
James: That’s the flip side of it. But with album sales going down I think it now change the way bands have to do things in the future, because things can’t go on in the old fashioned way it has been.
Gavin: The labels are just making safe bets all the time, so bands have to do things themselves, as if you are only selling a few thousand copies it’s not worth it for the labels.
James: Touring is the only way bands can make money these days, or even come close to making money. Twenty years ago it was all about the records, then a lot of bands didn’t even tour, as they could live off record sales.
How have the songs from ‘Best In Town’ changed over the last 9 months playing them live?
James: Nothing too drastic, we made a big effort before we recorded the songs to make sure they were all prepared as they could be, and the best the songs could be. We might have added some little fills (Gavin: Sweet licks) just to keep ourselves entertained. The last few years we have really improved, there’s nothing like being in a band to make you a better band, and playing every day and touring makes you so much tighter, and just better.
Gavin: There’s stuff I this album I wouldn’t have been able to sing a few years ago, and that’s just from playing and playing, singing and singing.
James: It’s a constant learning cycle.
What has been the best thing you have done on this album cycle?
James: Reading or Download. We did main stage Download on the Faith No More day, which was just insane. Playing on the same stage as Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Faith No More was awesome. And co-headlining the Festival Republic stage at Reading with Bring Me The Horizon, was amazing. It’s one of those things we always wanted to do. I’ll always remember that day.
What’s the plan for The Blackout this year.
Gavin: The aim is to tour until May, and then have some time off. We have all been writing, and putting stuff together on our laptops, but we’ll have a chance to jam things out. You don’t really tour from May cos the kids are doing exams, as we found out last May.
What’s inspiring you at the moment?
James: We all listen to different stuff. We hit the nail on the head with the last album, whether the song in question is aggressive and heavy, or melodic and poppy, it’s all built around a big chorus, and song structure is really important, which I think a lot of people forget about these days.
Gavin: We try not to stick to one genre of music, as we all listen to such different music, that it would be a shame if it didn’t all come through. We try not to rule things out, whether things are too poppy or too screamy, we try to give ourselves as much free reign as possible.
James: Because we all have our own ideas, when we come together the ideas change so much, because everyone puts their ideas in, and improve it. That’s how ‘ShutTheFuckUppercut’ happened, we had this fast paced 2 minute screamy punk rock song, then we went into preproduction with Jason Perry, and he suggested putting a really big chorus in and make it an anthem, so we wrote a simple three chord chorus and it completely transformed the song.
The Blackouts album ‘Best In Town’ is out now.
When we caught up with the band Gavin Butler kindly signed two photos for us to give away. On top of that each winner will receive a photo of Sean Smith (unsigned).
All you have to do for your chance to win is comment below. We will randomly pick the winners on 30th April, and then contact the winners.
Here are the photos you can win (taken by Jon Luton, at Norwich Waterfront, May 2009)