Interviewed by Aleksandra Brzezicka
Hail the new order, The Blinders are back. After getting their twisted tunes out in the world, followed by months of studio silence, they’ve shed the skins of revolutionaries and turned upside-down on the second album, Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath. Bassist Charlie McGough commented on their new-found fantasies and ways of expression.
On their debut, named after Manson’s dystopia, Columbia, they’re trying to make sense of all the despair and drama in society, they’ve mixed Orwellian influences with social commentary to provide an album-size catharsis. Mission accomplished. What now? According to Charlie, a change of direction into looking inwards. That’s what their newest single, Circle Song, is about. “The song is looking at reaching a point in your life where you are at the crossroads. I think it carried to the point we were at. After releasing our first album we got to that point we are, slightly at the crossroads. […] Feeling slightly lost. Feeling very helpless and feeling empty,” he says.
They’ve poured that feeling into the new material. “We allowed ourselves to be a lot more sensual than at the album we had. On Columbia there was more distance, characters and that world of dystopia but the second record so much more original,” Charlie says. The ‘new’ Blinders are experimenting with keys and piano while sticking to their dark/pure energy dogma. More sophisticated. Just as devilish.
“We were sort of pulling them apart [songs] and we realised that there were constant themes and things that kept coming back. All that there was to it, was the feeling of lostness, helplessness and anger. Getting a lot of those songs related to the points in our lives that we were at then and then related them back to the world issues of feeling very lost in them and looking at how global politics were fitting into our personal relationships. It feels like the second album was more of a personal record,” Charlie says.
Named after the song that never made it to the record in its original form, Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath, are less of a concept album than Columbia was. “The first one was heavily influenced by dystopian literature, Orwell and Huxley’s books. We are past that so obviously we dropped looking at dystopia,” he says.
Though as lovers of words, The Blinders are still knee-deep in literature. “With the second album, we were looking towards poetry. There’s one song From Nothing to Abundance which comes from a poem,” Charlie says. Re-visiting their heroes and inspired by artists they admire like Steinbeck, Bowie or Dylan, they’ve written their own stories.
“There wasn’t maybe one book this time. I feel like there were a lot of really different novels. We were picking up bits of narratives from them and looking at how to develop our lines, styles based on those novels,” McGough says.
Nick Cave’s influence can be heard throughout the whole The Blinders’ discography. So it’s not surprising when asked about the songs they wish they’ve written Charlie mentions Cave’s Bright Horses and There She Goes, My Beautiful World. “It’s the hope of those songs. […] Seeing the troubles of the world but also looking at the beauty of it. Clinging to that beauty and clinging to life. I think if you’ll try to get this kind of ethos in the way you live, in the way you write, that can go quite a long way,” he says.
Despite clinging on to the greatest, The Blinders are not blind on the movements of the British music scene. “We’re always looking for new influences and new records. Now looking at some more electronic stuff which you may not expect us to listen to,” Charlie says and lists his favourite acts right now: “obviously incredible” Idles, Yellow Brain, Document and Porridge Radio (great debut album, check it out).
Coming from Doncaster, they’ve struggled to find a responsive audience as in bigger cities like Manchester (their current location) where there’s like five great music venues on one street. “Being in the band is obviously not easy but neither it should be,” says Charlie. Despite the odds, they’ve stolen the hearts of many and got their own “little sphere” of an audience.
Grateful for that, him and Thomas, having a pile of unpublished lyrics and poetry, came up with an alternative to the social media platform, The Room. Space where they could connect with fans in a way they feel comfortable in. “It’s something we’re really excited about and something we’ve worked quite a while on. Sharing our thoughts on the songs that are coming out. We’re looking at the ways we can develop that in, making it slightly more of a communicative process where people can feedback, have some sort of Q&A and get involved,” Charlie says.
Collectives like that are extremely important right now when, out of the sudden, we’ve found ourselves on the verge of Orwellian-like disaster *pandemic, obviously* and the music industry is suffering greatly. “Take it day by day and see what’s gonna happen. People have to look after themselves and look after one another,” says McGough to the fans and fellow musicians.
While you’ll be blasting The Blinder’s through your home-speakers, they’re getting ready for revolution 2.0. “Waiting to get back out there, waiting to record and waiting to play live. Can’t wait to see how people take it. Hopefully, people will enjoy it and receive it well. Fingers crossed,” Charlie says.
Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath is out on May 8th, pre-order it here.
Event page for their gig at The O2 Academy in Leicester on 23/05/20. Please note – most gigs are currently being cancelled because of coronavirus, please double check before setting out.
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