Writer: Rob Johnson
In the midst of a global crisis, it is more important than ever to support our local music scene. With that in mind, we caught up with Doncaster heroes The Blinders…
OK, only one place to start really. How has the COVID-19 virus already affected the band and what do you think the music industry needs to do generally to help artists survive (big question I know!)?
As you recognise, it’s a big question and we can’t pretend to have the answers. We’re in a position where we’ve been fortunate enough to reschedule our tour pretty quickly with that now taking place in September rather than May. The effects this crisis will have on the whole of society are obviously anxiety inducing.
For us looking at this through the lens of the music industry and the effects it will have on our lives, there are obviously concerns for the ability of venues and artists to come out of this in a position where they can remain open or can continue to pursue the arts. It feels like in times like these the arts are more important than ever in helping people cope and to provide a distraction.
It seems obvious that for a long time the music industry has failed to spread around the vast amounts of wealth seemingly trapped at the top. It’s got to go back into independent music venues so they can cultivate new artists.
Moving away from the end of the world… After years of inactivity, Doncaster is having a bit of a ‘moment’ right now with Blinders, Bang Bang Romeo and Yungblud all enjoying various degrees of success. How heartening is it to see a place like Doncaster finally arriving on the music scene?
It’s incredibly heartening and to be honest, a little bit strange. We’re quite used to being asked about the Doncaster music scene and for a long time there’s not been a whole lot to shout about. It’s always nice to see people from back home do well. Everyone you mention there is obviously circulating in their own worlds but still, it’s nice to see. Skinny Pelembe is another act from Doncaster whose debut album was a great piece of work so another one to check out.
In 2019, you embarked on your ‘For The Many’ tour in support of the Labour party. Why is it important for musicians to engage in politics? How have your political views been shaped by growing up in Doncaster?
For us that tour was a chance to actually support a cause that we’d been championing in our music for a long time. It was really a chance for us to implement a lot of what we believe in. The result is obviously heart breaking. Politics has always been a big part of the band and that undoubtedly has a lot to do with where we are from. Thomas and myself’s fathers were both Miners. I suppose we’ve been raised on stories that a lot of people in Doncaster can relate to. Politics perhaps comes quite natural to us. I wouldn’t say it’s genuinely necessary that artists engage in politics to the degree we do, but I think the best artists are relevant and engage with the events of the day whether that be politically, socially or philosophically.
2018 saw the release of your wildly successful debut album Columbia. Massive tours and a live album followed in 2019. What is next for the band? When can we expect to hear some new music?
Unfortunately we’ve had to slightly shift our release plan. The follow up to Columbia, Fantasies of a Stay At Home Psychopath, will now be released to mass critical acclaim and fanfair on July 17th.
After years of inactivity, guitar music has picked up again in the last five years with bands such as Idles, Fat White Family and Fontaines DC. Despite originating from very different scenes, do you feel much of a kinship with those bands?
Kinship is not maybe the word we would use. As you say we’ve all come from very different places and have in the main only had the chance to play with such guys on the festival circuit. We’re very honoured that people would think of us in the same breath as those acts. Fat Whites were quite a big influence on us in the early days. Idles have obviously taken it all to a new level over the previous twelve months. Although we like to feel we are doing our own thing it’s great to see so many acts who perhaps share a similar ethos doing well and having success so long may that continue.
Lastly, we’re all looking for something to cheer us up right now. What would your advice be for those struggling in isolation? Not just during the lockdown but in the difficult weeks and months to come?
We’re all just trying to stay busy. I’m finding being creative a great help, using this enforced break to write as much as possible and write some things that I’ve maybe not had the chance to do over the last few months.
Bongo’s Bingo have been doing some live streams as well so they’re certainly something to look out for. If you’ve not played before you’re in for a treat.
Rob Johnson (www.robscene.com)