INTERVIEW: Blown Out | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Stephan Vercaemer

2015 saw Blown Out release two remarkable albums (three if you include download-only Celestial Spheres) and kick off 2016 with the release of their stunning Supernormal set from last year. And this month the band is releasing New Cruiser through the ever-essential Riot Season label. Two tracks of deep power trio space rock, its recording saw guitarist Mike Vest further pushing what can done within that format.

“Jet Black Hallucinations was all recorded live in the studio with minimal guitar overdubs. New Cruiser was recorded in a similar fashion, but I experimented more with overlaying lots of guitars and strategically placing them all in the stereo field. Hopefully, the more your listen to the album and whether you listen through speakers or on headphones, the album is constantly changing, based on your level of perception on that day. The more you listen, the better it sounds. Re-discovering what was already there.”

The second track, Phase II, originally appeared last year but has been reworked here. “Phase II was on Celestial Sphere, which was a download only album. We needed to raise some funds so we could get to Europe via North Shields, instead of travelling all the way to Dover (££££). So I recorded, mixed and mastered the album in 3 days. We thought that Phase II was such a great track out of the three. Celestial Sphere as a whole has a really rough production. So we decided to have another crack at it in the studio. It sounds great.” The band have also just released a track through the God Unknown Singles Club, which required a need for brevity “A lot of our songs have arrangements within the jams; verse, chorus, versus, bridge, chorus. But the changes are infrequent. If you shortened our tracks, they would come out like 3/4 minute space rock numbers. We knew this was going on a seven inch, so we shortened the track to fit. When we play this song live, it’s much longer.”

The vast body of work Vest is creating – with Blown Out and his myriad other bands – comes from a relentless drive  to create and coming up with new music is never an issue. “Blown Out’s music just flows and evolves, it’s impossible for us to have writers block. Personally, I do record and produce more music than I can get released. I have to create something; everyday otherwise I become bored and can easily become completely lost. I like to build my own reality through sound. Gives me scope and the ability to get up everyday. Like I have said before, it isn’t just me in these bands, so in each band there is a collective of writers. I listen and write so much music, its impossible for me not to have new material. However, I can get stuck on whether the quality of my playing is up the scratch. Self-doubt can be a mainline killer.”

I have to create something; everyday otherwise I become bored and can easily become completely lost. I like to build my own reality through sound

To those of us lucky enough to witness it, Blown Out’s Supernormal set last year – at the end of a fairly intense weekend – was very special and it seemed apt for it to get a vinyl release. “If we have the option to record any of our live sets, we do. A mate of ours at the festival had a zoom digital recorder, which could be plugged into the desk. We didn’t know we were going to release it, but we try and record a lot of our live shows. When you’re playing, you kind of forget about it anyways. What will be will be.  All our shows are always different and forever changing, this one turned out great. Despite being wasted for 3 days.”

Vest is always full of praise for the Blown Out rhythm section (Matt Batey and John-Michael Hedley) and every Blown Out show I’ve seen sees the three of them really lock into something, which is more to do with instinct than practice. “We don’t practice a lot, I think the key to it all is listening whilst playing. Being able to keep the intensity up no matter what happens live, the ability to improvise and find your place again quickly. Makes all the difference. Which they both do, tremendously.”

The last 12 months has also seen Blown Out playing further afield, something they clearly enjoy. “When we toured France, Belgium and Holland in April was great. Playing on boats and old porno theatres, you can’t beat it. European audiences and promoters treat bands so much better than in the UK. Plus, I can actually have a nice bottle of wine, without it tasting like its been stored in a boiler room. We don’t get offered a lot of shows, but we have been given the chance to play some great festivals, and hopefully will continue to do so…. We really want to tour Italy, Spain and Portugal. Just to see how far we can push it. We played in Portugal last year and played some insane shows and were treated so well. So more of that really. We are really into the idea of recording another album in a different city as well. Just to keep things interesting. We have played in various bands for a long time, sometimes the grind can make things stale.”

As well as more gigs and festivals, the band are considering a live album and a collaboration, not to mention a slew of releases from Vest’s other bands, including another new project. “There’s a new 11Paranoias LP, coming out on Ritual Productions, Melting Hand’s ‘High Collider’ LP should be out soon on Hominid Sounds. Lush Worker ‘Realms’ tape is also coming out on Hominid Sounds in September. Yeah, the new band / project /duo / whatever you want to call it is called Dodge Meteor, our first tape will be coming out on Swap Meat, Riot Season’s sister tape label. Think that is it…I’m sure I’ve missed something. I always do.”

Blown Out release New Cruiser on Riot Season on August 26th. They play Newcastle Trillians on Thursday 4th August.


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