Fans, Funds and Fun Times at Bristol Zoo: Was The Blackout’s ‘Pledge’ Worth it?
With their third studio album Hope released earlier this month to critical acclaim, their single Higher and Higher receiving primetime radio airplay and a spot on Reading and Leeds main stage, did the gamble of a record label split and a fan-funded LP pay off for The Blackout?
When the band announced their intentions to fund their new album through the Pledge website it met with less than enthusiastic support from other players in the music industry. Rapper and regular chart-topper, Example, was quoted in a BBC interview as believing there were ‘cleverer ways to do it’ as it was ‘not really getting your name out there or your brand or your music’, claiming that bands should retain their ‘integrity’. For others it was an ‘inspirational story of hope over adversity’. For The Blackout, they said ‘it opened our eyes to the fan base we had and how committed they are to us – and we are to them’.
The band put on offer a whole host of pledge options varying in price from £10 for a handwritten birthday card to a day out at Bristol Zoo for £100 and a DJ set at a private party for a full £500. Despite the early hesitations and scepticism from other musicians, as well as the band themselves, within the first they managed to raise ‘over 50% of what we needed to realise Hope’. On last check The Blackout’s fans had made 1062 pledges raising 134% of the sum the band needed for the release. On top of this the band was able to make a ‘sizeable contribution’ to Teenage Cancer Trust Wales: How many other artists can boast that of their last album?
Hope as an album is a refreshing development of the ‘NuRock’ scene being created by bands such as Francesqa, Young Guns and scene Godfathers YouMeAtSix. With their Welsh roots bursting through the album there is a throwback to the days when earlier bands from down the M4 such as Lost Prophets and Funeral For A Friend dominated the UK rock scene with their hard metal riffs, addictively sing-along hook lines and occasional scream, scream, shout, shout anger.
The Blackout have produced an album that appeals to their grassroots fan-base through to the Radio 1 head honchos, and a lot of that has to be credited to their obviously loyal and supportive audience, musical ability as well as their willingness to take a risk. But don’t expect them to go back to Pledge in a year’s time when album four is in the mix. Guitarist Matt Davies said that if they do go back “…it won’t be for a while. Just for the fact that all the kids will be like, ‘Oh, there they are again, milking us’”. This is a band and an album that has had success, and is likely to achieve even more, yet doesn’t forget its roots, and for this it has to be seen as a success.
BMTH - Blessed With A Curse: The Maturing of a British Scene?
Does the latest track from scene-defining (in every sense of the word) Northern metalers Bring Me The Horizon represent the maturing nature of British alternative music?
Having been one of a plethora of bands to have gained national notoriety thanks to the wonders of a scene driven heavily by MySpace (R.I.P), BMTH seemed to define everything about young, up-start British bands around 2004-06 who were ready to germinate the fertile fields of teenagers who had just woken up to realise that there was music other than 50cent or Girls Aloud. They had the OTT look of fringes, tatts and tight jeans. They were able to push out the garish brutal riffs, rhythms and vocals whilst in those tight jeans. And they also had the photoshoped MySpace profile pics of themselves in their tight jeans. They, with the possible exception of Enter Shikari, were THE UK band of the MySpace generation and epitomised the explosive cocktail of excitement, hormones and sense of freedom that this culture felt.
BMTH were the right band with the right image and right music at the right time to exploit the phenomenon of social-networking during its infancy.
But social-networking isn’t in its infancy anymore. It is a fully-fledged grown up with a steady job, a family and a mortgage to pay, and likewise the UK music scene that evolved out of it has had to grow up also. This ‘coming of age’ is encapsulated within ‘Blessed With A Curse’. BMTH keep the teen-angst firmly on a leash and manage to fuse it with Nu Metal guitar tones and a slow blues solo to create a song that smacks of experience, without the loss of the raw power and emotion that was the hallmark of their early material.
Similarly to how BMTH epitomised the early blossoming of the MySpace led UK scene, their latest track is a symbol of how the scene has had to developed since the hormones settled down and it accidently knocked-up that sort-of-alright looking Indie scene who gave birth to their surprisingly attractive UK rock scene bastard child just under a year later. This child is the current rock scene in Britain, one of a more matured and rounded sound, with the dominant bands such as We Are The Ocean, The Blackout and You Me At Six being given the chance to learn from its parentage. But the Daddies to this scene haven’t lost what made them, them. The emotion and excitement are still there, except now they have to compete with holding down a steady job and paying the mortgage!
HypeMusic is a monthly video magazine covering the very best in the UK’s growing Underground Rock scene. Debuting in March ‘11, the show will consist of videos, interview and general chin wagging with some of the brightest stars on the circuit including Banbury rockers Francesqa and the next best thing to emerge from Bedford other than Red Stripe; Don Broco.
This Tumblr will act as the connection point between Us and You. If you have questions, queeries or ‘the next big thing’ then let us know!