Interview: The Blinders chat all things SXSW, Touring and Columbia

Saturday, March 16, 2019
Photo by Kristy Smolcic

If you're talking to anyone from the UK at SXSW, they mention The Blinders. The three-piece originally from Doncaster (now based in Manchester) present a form of raw alternative rock that includes doses of Nick Cave, but with their own unique twist. Before they tore up the British Music Embassy as part of SXSW last night, we caught up with Thomas, Charlie and Matt here in Austin.

So, how has Austin been for you guys so far?

Thomas: We’ve not been here so long actually. We just arrived yesterday. We’ve had a chance to sort of look around the streets and it’s quite the place. It’s definitely different from back home. So looking forward to the evening really and seeing where that takes us.
Matt: We don’t come alive until night time.
Thomas: Yeah, we don’t come alive until night time. We're staying at a ranch just outside of town, which is really cool.

That sounds like fun. Will you squeeze in time to check out any of the other artists, or is it straight out business for you guys now?

Thomas: Leisure and pleasure, no, wait…
Matt: We take pleasure in other people’s leisure (laughs).
Thomas: (Laughs) Yeah, I think there are a few artists that we’re already planning on seeing.
Matt: We’re going to go see The Ninth Wave, Anteros, Avalanche Party.
Charlie: Black Midi’s tomorrow.
Thomas: Charlotte OC and definitely Black Midi, and possibly The Black Angels.
Matt: I think we just got the idea for the week to wander around and bump into bands really.

Sounds like a good plan, so you’re just going to see how it all goes?

Thomas: Yeah, we don’t play until Thursday.

So you’ve got time to have a bit of a wander?

Thomas: Yeah, we’ve got some time which is good.

Photo by Kristy Smolcic 

Last year you dropped your debut album Columbia, what was it like putting it together?

Thomas: We sat on a lot of that material for about two or three years, and given it’s a debut album, it’s usually how it goes. So it was quite relieving to put it on wax and getting into the studio and doing that. It also introduced us to the idea of working in a studio, we’re normally a live band so it was a very new thing for us. It was something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

Is it hard to sit on material for that long?

Thomas: Yeah, naturally. I think you tend to perfect your craft by doing so. There were some songs on the album that we wrote in an hour.
Matt: And others that took three years.
Thomas: I think we like to sit on material actually. We’re currently working on album two and we’ve already been sitting on some of that stuff for about six months
Matt: So we’re going to be in the same boat again.
Thomas: (Laughs) yeah, we’re going to be in the same boat once more for album two.

On the album, I thought there were a lot of interesting dystopian references, like on ‘Brave New World’, did you look at books or possibly films when writing it as reference points?

Thomas: Not particularly.
Charlie: Yes and no, I think it was inspired by the time and that sort of influenced whilst I was writing the first album and then I think we used other reference points while in the studio. It was quite a natural process, we sort of married opinions on today’s society and stealing that sort of language, and the two came through quite naturally and it was a happy marriage.

And what would you say are your personal favourites from the album?

Thomas: this is a difficult one, I suppose. What’s your’s, Matt?
Matt: Probably ‘Brutus’, that’s probably the one we had the longest.
Thomas: Yeah, we had that one probably the longest, didn’t we?
Matt: I think we did about seven or eight takes of it, and I’m still not happy with it (Laughs).
Thomas: (Laughs) yeah, there you go.
Matt: But in terms of my favourite set piece of music, that’s my favourite.
Charlie: Maybe, ‘Orbit’, I’ll throw in a different one.
Thomas: ‘Orbit’ is the random one. That was the last piece of the album
Charlie: Yeah, it slid in nicely on the album
Thomas: It was a piece Charlie did and sort of was a stream of consciousness that we then put to the first two chords that came in our head and we had our producer sitting on the piano, and yeah, it was a really beautiful note.

Have you had a chance to play the album a lot since releasing it?

Thomas: Oh yes (Laughs).
Matt: Probably far too much (Laughs).
Thomas: The reception that you get though from doing that really makes it worthwhile and it doesn’t matter if you’re playing the same songs for 25 nights.
Matt: I think the general nature of our shows isn’t like that we’re playing the same show over-and-over, it kinda goes off how the crowd is and it makes every show different and unique.

How about coming to play in Australia, would you be down for that?

Thomas: Oh yeah.
Matt: Definitely.
Thomas: Not looking forward to the flight over there because that is a long way.
Matt: We’ll take a boat.
Thomas: That’s even longer (Laughs). I’m not a good flyer, but absolutely. They say that there’s a lot of stuff going on there but I’m probably quite ignorant to the whole scene apart from the big ones, but yeah, it’s definitely somewhere we would like to go.

Oh yeah, you definitely gotta come visit! So, after SXSW, what have you got planned?

Charlie: We’ve got our own shows to do back in the UK, we’ve got a tour to do from London, Manchester and Glasgow, Birmingham as well. And then I would say our second album would become the focus, and yeah, hopefully doing as much touring as possible.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)
Photos by Kristy Smolcic (folio

You can catch The Blinders at their remaining showcases at SXSW:
March 15th - Valhalla - 12:00am to 12:40am
March 16th - Beerland - 12:00am to 12:40am

The Blinders will also be touring around the UK and Europe during the below dates:
April 26th - O2 Insistute 2, Birmingham
April 27th - O2 Ritz, Manchester
April 28th - Glasgow, St. Lukes
April 30th - Scala, London
May 7th - MTC, Cologne
May 8th - Molotow, Hamburg
May 9th - Cassiopeia, Berlin
More information on the tour and other live dates is available here