INTERVIEW: Blossoms

Stockport’s Blossoms have had their debut album in the works for a while now, but tomorrow (August 5) is finally the release date.  Ahead of their slot headlining the Quarry stage at Y Not Festival, Becky caught up with them to chat about their new album, touring and everything else including Japanese toilet seats.

Comprised of Tom Ogden (vocals, guitar), Charlie Salt (bass, backing vocals), Josh Dewhurst (lead guitar), Joe Donovan (drums) and Myles Kellock (keyboards), Blossoms formed back in 2013. The addition of Kellock in August of that year saw the making of the five-piece we know today, and since then things have moved quite quickly for the band.

“We’ve been in other bands before and knew what went wrong in those, so from the start we were in a better place,” begins Tom. “We went around it the correct way. We haven’t been thrown in the deep end with no fan base. We built that up first and then the record labels came along. If we could see ourselves now three years ago, we’d be shocked with some of the gigs we’re playing, but we always want more! It just shows that we’re driven.”

Since their formation, Blossoms’ sound has developed to become the sound they’ve wanted from their beginning; pop music but in their own way. “We’ve always wanted to be really poppy. It’s just the little things like keyboard sounds that can take the song in a completely different way,” they begin. “If you have a Hammond organ sound then you’ll sound quite 60s like The Doors, whereas if you substitute it for an 80s synth then you can make the sound more poppy.”

“Tom’s pop songwriting has always been there from the start too; as a band we’ve changed sonically around that. It’s the same parts and melodies, but we’ve learnt to understand our equipment more so we know how to get that sound we want.”

Though their aim was always to release pop, they’ve still evolved naturally over the past three years, including learning their instruments as Myles explains, “I couldn’t really play keyboard at first. I taught myself on one of those school keyboards and then got an organ, so naturally I’m not going to whack on a synth track and be like ‘yeah that’s mint!’. You grow.”

“We’ve always wanted to go this way, but it’s not easy. Synths are quite expensive and it’s not like you can pick that up when you’re on a small circuit,” Tom adds.

Having worked with The Coral’s James Skelly when producing the album, they received a lot of guidance with how to produce their desired sound. “We used to go into his rehearsal room to jam out to some tunes and he’d look over us. It’s hard to get those sounds but when you know someone who’s done it before, they can help you get them instantly. You’ve got to be open to changing sounds too. You can’t get married to how the song used to sound, we’ve tried to be open minded!”

Their album might only be out this week, but it’s been in the works since the release of singles ‘Charlemagne’, ‘Blow’ and ‘Blown Rose’. “You could say half of the album is a greatest hits of singles that were already released,” jokes Charlie.

“They were great singles and done with Skelly in the studio so they were album worthy. After that we recorded a load more tunes which is the rest of the album. There was a different approach with the two halves,” explains Tom. “At first, I’d write them at home, and then bring them into the rehearsal room so everyone would jam it out, before recording them months later. Whereas for the second half after we’d got signed, we were on tour so we couldn’t rehearse. Instead I’d write at home, then go into the studio and build it up more there.”

Though the singles may still be the same, there are a few surprises for the biggest of Blossoms fans. “There’s an extra synth on ‘Blow’ and an extra shaker maybe. It’s not drastic but some might notice!”

Last week saw the band release ‘Honey Sweet’, the “big pop tune” of the album, with a hint of Taylor Swift thrown in apparently. Though the track that stands out most is ‘Getaway’, which has seen the band take on a slower tempo, and more open way of songwriting.

“I watched that Amy Winehouse documentary,” begins Tom. “When the words came up on screen, I was looking at them and thinking ‘she’s dead honest’ and it gets to you a bit when someone is that brutally honest. I was going through something at the same time so I thought I’d give it a go, and I guess people like it as they can relate.”

With their album so close, they’ve been on the road a long time to build up for the release and as Josh simply puts, “it’s worth nearly dying on the way.”

“We’ve just got to put the work in,” Tom says. “We’re willing to do that. Not many people have had a schedule like ours (40+ festivals over the summer), and speaking to people that book us, no one’s doing as many gigs too. We want to be like that though, and you get a long way if you work hard.”

Today, the band are about to headline The Quarry stage at Y Not Festival. Despite, issues over a pillar holding up the tent centre stage (or “that fucking pillar” named by Joe), they think it’s going to be one of their summer highlights.

“At festivals there’s less time to set up. It’s a lot more rushed and panicky but 90% of the time they turn out ok!” Charlie continues, “Your own shows are exactly what they are, your own shows, but you can pick up new fans at festivals. They’re good for showcasing yourself to people who wouldn’t have listened to you before.”

Following the release of their album and festival-filled summer, the Stockport lads are heading back on tour and with their Manchester Academy date selling out in just five minutes, things are already looking good.

“It’s so mad, but we want it at the same time and we’re still enjoying it!”, they say speaking about the increasing crowds. “It’s almost easier to play to a large crowd as they carry it. When you play to like three people you can see them sweating and the whites in their eyes. If I were to play to just you right now, I’d probably shit myself! Playing to 10,000 makes the crowd just become one, like a green screen so you don’t really think about it.

Their upcoming UK tour in October sees support from Declan McKenna and Cabbage, both previous supports for the band and well-loved. “They’re so interactive! The crowd will be so up for it when it gets to our set,” they begin.

“Before, when Declan supported us, it was just him sampling but now he has a band he can control the crowd so well, and he’s got even better. Cabbage too, they’re mad. When they supported us in Liverpool, no one knew who they were but by the end of their set everyone was chanting their name.”

Getting to spend weeks on tour with your mates would be anyone’s dream, as Charlie agrees calling it a “permanent lads holiday, but with an ounce of professionalism”. But with a schedule meaning they’re playing a weekend of festivals after flying back from Australia, it’s going to take it out of you.

Josh quickly replies “badly” before explaining, “Shortlist magazine said of the five, it’s pencil-thin Dewhurst who suffers most from the band’s schedule. It’s such hard work. We have this thing called the witching hour and it’s creeping up on me now. It’s when you’re so tired you go insane.”

They may be tired travelling across the world but they’ll soon be back at home playing to the fans that started their career. Returning back to their show at Manchester Academy, the guys still seem a bit shocked at it’s quick sell-out.

“Milburn are playing the same day, so Tom kept telling me nobody would come,” Joe laughs before Tom defends himself. “I’m a pessimist! I expect less so then I’m always a little happier! It’s lovely when something like this happens, it proves that they’re really backing us. When Manchester take to a band, they proper take to them and they support you like a football team.”

Even the other dates around the UK are moving towards selling out too, notably London’s Forum which saw Blossoms support The Kooks at late last year. “It’s definitely a big achievement,” Charlie says. “It just shows how far we’ve come.”

Before more of their UK tour sells out tickets for all other dates are available here.

Blossoms’ self-titled debut album is out now via EMI.

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