Stockport indie-poppers Blossoms are not ones to shy away from hard graft. From rehearsing in a freezing scaffolding yard to relentless gigging in obscure venues and sleeping in a mouldy-fruit infested van, they’ve now reached the point where they can begin to reap the rewards of their efforts. With a debut album flying straight to the top of the charts and in-demand live tickets necessitating extra tour dates, the band have proved their hands-on approach has more than paid off. However, Blossoms are not resting on their laurels just yet…
I meet the band in the basement of HMV Sheffield as an eager crowd of Blossomites [I’m coining this] gather upstairs with records tucked under their arms and camera phones at the ready. Some are there a good hour before the signing-come-acoustic show begins – will this trickle of enthusiasm lead to pure unabashed fan-girling a few months down the line? It has only been a mere 24 hours since their debut release after all…
“Reaction to the album has gone amazingly well. We didn’t really have any expectations, and just focused on getting it out and getting people to hear it,” says lead singer Tom Ogden. Though many will have already heard much of the material (there are only four non-singles on the track list) he isn’t concerned that this may deter people from buying it.
“I suppose people know what they’re getting… I’m not worried though. People want to buy and physically own a record; see the tracks in the order they’re meant to be in, with the packaging and the art work and all that. If you’ve supported a band from the start like a lot of our fans have, then you’re going to want that first record in your hands.”
“Especially now, you can’t expect a band to have a debut album and then just go without releasing anything beforehand,” says drummer Joe Donovan, “it’s just not going to do anything is it?”
Undoubtedly, demand for music is constant these days; with so much on offer from so many platforms, how do they keep up?
“You’ve got to release a lot of stuff otherwise people forget about you and then another band comes along. We write a lot of music, so we don’t want to hold back; we want to give the fans something to listen to,” says Tom.
“We always concentrate on getting good B-sides too, making good EPs, because a lot of people really like them,” agrees Joe.
But with the album out, the band’s EPs are no longer available online, something they’ve received a bit of criticism for…
“People are asking where they’ve gone; it’s like, the album’s out! What more do you want?” asks Tom.
Clearly, there’s a hankering for it. With the rise of dance, hip-hop and grime in the charts, guitar bands have been less prevalent following the mid-noughties popularity of bands like The Kooks, Franz Ferdinand, The Rakes et al. But if you look at the rise of Catfish and The Bottlemen, Mercury-nominated The 1975 and even Milburn’s return, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s an indie-resurgence on the cards.
“I think there’s a bit of a revival going on, yeah,” muses Tom.
“There are always gonna be guitar bands aren’t there? It’s never going to die out I don’t think. But you have got to do something different, something that’s not already been done. So it’s not just guitars, it’s synths and that too,” says keyboard player Myles Kellock.
“Fundamentally, we’re a pop band,” says Tom.
They’re also a band that likes to do things the old-fashioned way. Eschewing the arguably easier route of social media led crowd-funding to get things off the ground (Tom didn’t even know what Kickstarter was when I asked), they’ve gone down more traditional means to get heard.
Tom shrugs: “I think we were always under the impression of ‘get out and gig’. We wanted to build a fan-base that way. Getting on the radio was important to us, too.”
“From the word go we just gigged like fuck,” bass player Charlie Salt puts it simply.
“Where we come from that old-fashioned way is the only way we know; we never really looked into any alternative,” says Joe. “One of the first things we wanted to buy as a band was a van so we could go out and get everywhere. We spent a lot of time in that van, even sleeping in it at some points. Charlie and I were the ones that drove it, and it was parked at my house so we were basically the only ones who cleaned it. And under Myles’ seat he would leave old milk. There were four cartons at one point, it was disgusting. Proper clumpy.”
“It wasn’t just that, it was rotting fruit too. Left in his own shoe!” says Charlie.
“Yeah… I am messy. I’m not allowed milk anymore,” Myles admits.
From a health hazard on wheels to the Etihad Stadium, in the space of a year the Blossoms boys’ journey has taken them from the downright dirty to the strange and surreal; a few months ago the band found themselves rubbing shoulders with their idols and supporting The Stone Roses, a band Tom has grown up listening to:
“My mum and dad were both at Spike Island, and I’ve always had a season ticket at City. So supporting one of my favourite bands as well as my football club, well it doesn’t get much better does it?” he says. “If someone said a year ago that this would happen I would have thought they were mad.”
It’s no secret that they want to be headlining such venues one day, and they’re certainly on the right track. Even since the last time the band played Sheffield they have graduated from the back room at The Leadmill to the main stage. With seven out of ten dates already sold out on their autumn tour, plus an extra date added, it won’t be long until they will have to seriously consider more spacious settings. Will there be a part of them that will miss these intimate live shows?
“Nah, I wanna get to the big ones,” laughs Tom. “There’s nothing sad about it. It’s good to go back to those smaller venues for one-offs and special shows, like we recently did one at Gorilla in Manchester which is only like 500 people, and it was nice. But when there are loads of people singing back at ya… It’s just mint.”
“Yeah, and they’re too hot,” adds Joe.
Rather than just riding the wave of a triumphant debut, the band already has their sights set on the next record.
“I have been writing, yeah. I think we’ll have about a year but I want to follow-up quickly. We were quite prolific with our EPs so I think we’ll be the same with this. Having said that, we won’t rush it. We’re not going to put something out if we don’t think it’s as good as the first one,” says Tom.
“It’s all about keeping the trajectory and the momentum going,” says Charlie.
“And if we leave it too long people will stop giving a fuck,” finishes Joe.
From what I’ve gathered, this seems unlikely. After the interview draws to an end, I pop upstairs to join the gaggle of Blossomites [it will catch on, trust me] to see the band in action. A semi-acoustic set comprising of album favourites ‘Getaway’, ‘Blown Rose’ and ‘Charlemagne’, plus slowies ‘Honey Sweet’ and ‘Smashed Pianos’ demonstrates there’s a fair wedge of talent behind all the hype.
On the surface this has been a tame audience appreciating a rare, stripped-back set from some indie-pop up and comers; yet I witness something extraordinary happen as soon as the band are out of sight. A couple of (completely unsuspecting, normal-looking) girls sidle up to the makeshift stage and swiftly nab the band’s half-drank bottles of water. On its own, this could be put down to a minor, albeit gross, act of madness. Perhaps they were just thirsty. But combine this stealthy saliva snatching with the fact that the band was mobbed by fans on a recent flight to Spain, and it seems my earlier fan-girl forecast is starting to happen sooner than I expected. Let’s hope Blossoms are ready for it.
Catch Blossoms at The Leadmill on October 4th. Their debut album is out now, see www.blossomsband.co.uk for more.
Words: Rachel Heward
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