Interview: Sean Smith, The Blackout

After a sweaty Glasgow gig for the Welsh boys, The Blackout, Callum Price had a chat with Sean Smith about making girls drop to their knees, breaking collarbones at the zoo and the birth of baby Jesus.

How’s it going?

Yeah good you?

Yeah good thanks. I was at your gig at King Tut’s the other night.

Cool, enjoy it?

It was great!

Ah awesome I’m glad!

So it’s been a while since you were last touring, how’s the new material [EP Wolves] going down?

The new material is fantastic. People seem to be enjoying it. Glasgow is still my favourite show so far, I mentioned it a couple of times on stage and I was not lying. We love coming to Glasgow because everyone’s mad; so yeah we had a great time.

Did crowdsourcing the EP give you an added pressure for it to be good?

No not really, because we put out snippets of songs and we were like, ‘look these are the songs we wanna record and if you’d like to hear them the only way we could possibly do this now is by crowdsourcing because we left our management and our label and couldn’t afford to do it ourselves.’ Luckily for us people really wanted to hear our songs and it’s come out brilliantly and I love them. I haven’t heard one bad review yet, so if you could find me a bad review that would be excellent because I love reading a good bad review.

You could be waiting a while for that one.

As part of the crowdsourcing, you played acoustic shows in people’s houses. That must have been a laugh?

Yeah when we did the ‘Pledge’ one a while ago for Hope we did a full band in people’s houses which was even madder. One of them, this girl had a dog the size of a bear; a big white fluffy dog that spent most of the time trying to lick us. This other show, we played in a girl’s hallway between her mansion and her swimming pool. So yeah we’ve played some interesting places. We played a house party once in Stoke, the lights went off for a split second, like someone leant on the light switch, and when they came back on there was a bloody hand print on the wall. And we were like how’s that happened!? Then we looked at Gavin [co-lead singer] and he’s cut himself somehow with a Jack Daniels bottle and then was bleeding and must have just put his hand on the wall and we were like ‘oh you’ve stained the wall for life, Gav!’

You did some other stuff for the Hope crowdsource, like going to the zoo with fans. It must have been good to just hang out with fans like that.

Yeah, basically ‘Pledge’ said to us look you can offer what you want, fans don’t have to buy it. We were like ‘oh that’s cool, what haven’t we done for a while boys? Oh we haven’t been to the zoo together’, so we went to the zoo and ten fans came with us, and we thought it was going to be really awkward but it ended up being a brilliant day up until the drummer fell over and broke his collarbone.

How did that happen, then?

There was a place in the zoo where it calculates how fast you run, and he ran and fell over and broke his collarbone. A cheetah does 80kmh and he was nowhere near…

Onto the music now then. The new EP is heavier. Do you agree?

Yeah. We had like twenty songs to choose from, so with everything that’s happened to us over the last two years we decided, lets do an EP and lets do it on the songs that have a running theme. So we chose those five and yeah it is heavier. The mad thing is people keep going ‘oh it’s like your old stuff when you used to be heavy’ but the first CD we ever put out had ‘It’s High Tide Baby’ on it which is one of our softest songs.

Yeah, but it’s produced by the same guy as the first one isn’t it?

Yeah we did it with him again because he’s an awesome, a lovely chap. Bit weird looking but you can’t hear that on the record thank God. He was spectacular to us. Basically he did it for a slightly cut fee because we all love each other, we’re all friends. He’s a dude.

Is it weird going back to doing an EP rather than a full on album?

Not really. The way the music industry’s going, I think albums could be kind of pointless soon. Why would you focus really hard over a short period of time to record ten, eleven, twelve songs we you could do six months at a time doing five songs then you could do that tour cycle the whole time. So to me it makes more sense to do that. You could do a single a month and then you’ve got twelve at the end of the year then you’ve done an album anyway. But people are not buying albums anyway. So we just put the five hardest and, what we thought were, the best songs on the EP and I believe we’ve nailed it.

I think you have, too.

Ah thanks very much. It means a lot honestly, it means a lot that somebody else agrees.

You’ve been a band for a very long time now. Where other bands who you were associated with early on such as Kids in Glass Houses are beginning to drop off now and you’re still going, so what’s the secret?

There is no secret, we’re holding on by the skin of our teeth. If we hadn’t crowdsourced [the EP] it never would have happened and that’s the sad thing; it’s happening to a lot of great bands. Canterbury are one of the best British bands and they had to call it a day; Kids in Glass Houses are brilliant but lost their loan and called it a day. It’s happening and I think people should appreciate the bands they like now while they can because I think in the next two years we’re gonna see a drastic change in bands, with loads of people coming and going. Even new bands will just have a meteoric rise and then just go. I’m worried for everyone. It’s gonna be a weird scene in a couple of years I think but hopefully people can struggle through.

Well you have built up an extremely loyal fan base early who, it would appear, won’t let you go.

Yeah that’s the bloody problem! You wanna see them after gigs you’re like ‘ah look I’ve gotta go, I need to change and I need to have a shower’ and they’re like ‘no no it’s alright come here and talk to us’. But genuinely we appreciate them and we love them. Literally this tour I am glowing every night after we play because I’ve gone up there and seen how happy our songs sometimes make people. I’m just a dickhead from Merthyr Tydfil. It blows my mind when they’re enjoying it and it’s making them happy, it makes me feel like a trillion dollars.

There was a moment at the Glasgow show during Save Ourselves when you always get people to sit down, and you didn’t have to say anything; everyone just went down. I thought that really summed you and the fans up.

Yeah I wish I had that power with girls all the time. Where I just give them a nod and they just drop to their knees. That would be excellent, but sadly not. But yeah, it’s happened like that every night on this tour where I haven’t had to ask. It’s just amazing. They’re used to it and they’re enjoying it and everyone seems to be having a good time.

Is it good playing the smaller venues?

Yeah, we love them. We’ve always said we’re gonna play every show like it’s our last. No matter whether there’s one person or one billion, even though that’s impossible. It’s amazing. Thing is with smaller venues I get a shock more because it’s closer. You can see more and you can do more and you can go into the crowd and literally move people. I can literally pick people up and take them wherever I want. It’s amazing for us, but we thrive on big stages as well.

So finally, what’s the plan after the tour?

Christmas is coming. Baby Jesus was born so we’ll be celebrating with *stutters* Jeezy. That’s what I call him, because me and him are quite close, Jeezy Queezy. So little Jeezy Queezy, it’s his birthday so we’re going to celebrate with some turkey and that and then it’s the real son of God’s birthday on December 29th. That’s my birthday.

Obviously.

And then two days later it’s New Year’s eve. There’s possible plans for a tour early next year. I can’t say much for the moment but when it’s all in motion plans will be revealed.

Very exciting. Thanks for chatting today.

Thanks for having me!

And thanks for being in a great band, have a good show tonight.

Ah cheers bud it means a lot. Bye!

[Callum Price – @calprice28]

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