I interviewed Bob, the guitarist and Snoz, the drummer from The Blackout, in November on their UK tour, to see what was going on for them, how was their 2011, what was next for the band after they'd conquered the UK this year.
Could you describe The Blackout in 6 words?
Snoz: I'm gonna go one of them can be live.
Bob: Big, stupid, funny, rock, and, roll... and live!
Live can be an extra one...
Snoz: Live, live, live, live, live!
Hows the tour been so far?
Snoz: Good! Real good!
Bob: Fun. Unreal. It's been the best one we've ever done. Like, every show's been mind blowing. Like Birmingham last night was one of my favourite shoes we've ever done.
Snoz: It's weird for me because, on the last album, we did one tour and that was just before the album's release. Then after that we didn't do another headline tour. I guess that was a year and half ago, two years? So we did the Kerrang! Tour, instead of OUR tour, and supports, before headlining again. Which was a bit shitty like and we didn't do headlines shows. So then we did the headline shows in April which was pretty good. Played with My Chemical Romance before that, which was mental!
Bob: Right, and whenever we play Manchester, even when we don't expect it, it's good to us.
Snoz: It happened on the last tour, and sold so well, that they gave us these bigger venues 'cause Manchester was the first big, big city to embrace us, [he says it unsurely] is that fair?
Bob: Yeah...Yeah. That's right.
Snoz: The first show was with Avenged Sevenfold, like a month later and literally, we didn't know what we were doing and then erm, we like...Er what?!
Bob: So to get from there to today...
Snoz: Yeah like that was back in 2005, to get to today, which is nearly sold out.
Snoz: It might well have sold out tonight! It's just... [eyes winden] wow. Like, every time we've come to Manchester, since like 2005 people have always turned up!
Snoz: Like, there's certain fans, like Gemma! [One of my friends] She's been to every single show. We played at like Jilly's and Music Box? Is that it. We played like a matinee show, which was like our first ever tour, that was great. We came to rock, although we felt sick!
You always say you play shows, like it was your last. Where does this philosophy come from?
Bob: It could be, partly, erm you never know. Well, like this isn't going to be our last show [Manchester] but like tomorrow, you never know what's gonna happen. You know you can't guarantee that, like you're gonna get another tour, or you're gonna be together. I'm not saying it will happen, but you know. You don't know 100% if we'll get the chance to play a room this big again. But hopefully we will, hopefully it'll be bigger! But there's no point in... Like Jamie Lostprophets tweeted about the Birmingham show yesterday, 'cause it was a really big show, and we were more than excited about it. Jamie was kinda like [pauses] 'don't think about it as a means to an end, just enjoy it for what it is'. Which is what we always kinda done, which is a sensible thing, which people don't really consider. Which young people bands think, 'oh we should do this one and it will go well, then we will get to here...' You should just enjoy that show. Because like, well yeah, maybe one day you will get something bigger in Birmingham, you may well not as well! 'Cause last night, that could have been our last show, and I enjoyed it like it was.
Snoz: Yeah, especially as we've seen a lot of bands that do tours, you know big tours, 'Ah wicked' and then they disappear. I'm thinking a band like Aiden, who aren't very big now, but a few years ago they came over, did this tour, played to loads of people and they played the Astoria, and they sold it out, and it was wicked. Then they came back like a year later and they had hardly any shows and then that shows how people go. Like we're gonna play to two and half thousand people, and I bet you this time next year they won't bother. So like, you dunno, that unless you're constantly doing stuff, that's why were always on the road. We gotta keep on it, or people are gonna... lose interest.
Bob: And we've got like, I think what we're lucky with, is that we've got that core group of people, you know, who come see us all over the country. And that's the main reason we do, 'cause we know there'll be a certain amount of people no matter where we play or if we play to 100 people or 1000 people or 2000, you know there's that core that'll be there. So that if we go back down to playing little rooms, we know those people will be there, and that means a lot. To me anyways, that's a really good thing, rather than a lot of them dumping us in six months.
Snoz: We've been up and down, fan base wise. Like 2008, we playing with From First To last, and we got 1700 in, and we sold the Astoria out in the October and that was wicked; then in the May, just before The Best In Town was released [Their 2nd album] the shows didn't sell as well and we had a new album. So it just shows, that in six months, people decided "aw I don't like 'em now".
Bob: That was so dependent on so many different things as well. Like that tour in the May, was like slap bang in the middle of exam season, so kids couldn't. What's good about this time is, kids who are just in Uni who have time and are looking for things to do. There's so many different things, like obviously the economy isn't doing that well, like the amount of people who have actually deciding to part with money to come and see us on this tour is mind blowing.
Snoz: And people are still buying merch as well.
Bob: Yeah, it's just incredible. I mean one of the great things is, we did a show in Latvia with Linkin Park, to a few thousand people, like the size of the MEN, sold out, right? We walked up to merch after and we'd sold one t shirt. And I suppose it's better than none, but one t-shirt. Anyways before we had to mark up the merch to the same as Linkin Park's, and the price of one t-shirt is like a week's wages! So someone spent, well imagine you work all week and someone spent their money on one of our t-shirts, on a band you'd never heard of!? It's INSANE!
Bob: "That's so good, I've gotta spend all my money on this one t-shirt!"
Bob: When it comes to stuff like, it's mind blowing!
Snoz: Especially 'cause they must've paid loads for a ticket! And saved up loads for it.
Bob: It's kinda like a birthday and Christmas present combined.
You've started work on the next album. What's the next step?
Bob: Backwards scar. [He's stony faced, then breaks out into laughter]
Snoz: We have been in talks [laughs] about doing a little bit of an image change at some point... But we'll see.
Not like a boy band look?!
Snoz: No no! But, yeah.
Bob: Musically we've got like 9 finished. But then the music and lyrics have to come together. We've been writing since Reading pretty much. Which was the last thing we did, right up until this tour, and then we'll write right through until Christmas, and we've got a couple of shows in December. And then we're looking to go into the studio February/mid March.
Snoz: And it'll probably be out... summer?
Bob: The plan is maybe a festival next summer and then another tour maybe same time next year [October/ November] and then tour like March 2013 then. Hopefully!
Snoz: We hope!
Bob: Yeah, that's a really hypothetical 'we'll do this and this and then this and this.'
Snoz: plans will probs obviously end up changing. I'll probably hurt my other shoulder [in reference to him falling over in 2010, and tearing ligaments in his shoulder which meant he was unable to perform on the Hope album]. Maybe both shoulders!
There's always your hands.
Snoz: Oh aye, yeah.
According to other press sources, 2011 was tour make or break year. How did you think you did?
Bob: I didn't realise that was hanging over our heads even!
Snoz: We made it, after we broke it! [pauses] I guess that's through the Pledge. It's a fair point, but it's been done now. For me it's been good, with the tour.
Bob: Tour's been a successful year for me!
Snoz: Yeah I'm really happy with the way things have gone. See if I look to see how The Best In Town did six months later, Hope has sold more. But that's album sales anyways [makes up and down motion and plummet sound]. No one buys albums any more.
Bob: It's like I haven't spent any time and effort, writing at 4 o'clock in the morning, trying to work out what chord to put next.
Snoz: It's a fucking nightmare! [Sighs - in reference to the music buyers of today I assume, total despair]
What's been your best show?
Bob: In Birmingham. But I've got a feeling tonight, 'cause Manchester is always up there as well. Always bonkers.
Snoz: Yeah! Last time we played Academy 2, and that was the best show of that tour. Up until yesterday it was our best.
Bob: I loved the Astoria show as well...
Snoz: No I think she means 2011...?
I mean show to date.
Snoz: Oh, right! Astoria was good then! [pauses to think]
Snoz: We played Earls Court on Give It A Name.
Bob: Yeah that was good!
Snoz: Yeah, we played there in 2006 then in 2008 and we were further up the bill and it was mental! 'Cause when we played there in the first place, it was the, er, side, and we were the first band on, and two people saw us and it was wicked! Then 2 years later we played, and it was fucking rammed! Everyone seemed to know our stuff!
Bob: That was fucking awesome!
Snoz: We played Cyclone in Japan.
Bob: Yeah, all the Japanese club shows are good. That Punkspring [Japanese festival] was good.
Snoz: Ooh yeah! It's just loads of Japanese people going daft!
Bob: The size of the crowd was just ridiculous. I dunno whether they were just all confused thinking it was someone else or there were there, like a door got stuck and they were like 'ah we're here now!' That was ridiculous. Err there was one in Australia, Soundwave... was it Melbourne?
Snoz: Aye there were two?
Bob: There's was a lot. There was Reading, where we played. Reading was one of my favourites. This year's too.
Snoz: There's all sorts of fun ones, like big arenas and small ones. I think my favourite show, might've been the Manchester show we did last tour.
Bob: I know it could be just because it's recent, but last night [Birmingham] was pretty special. I'm just trying to think of a show that was better, and I played better. 'Cause I played really well, and it was amazing and I really enjoyed it. I'm a miserable bastard; it's hard for me to get those three at the same time!
We were at the back on the balcony, and we could tell by your faces you were enjoying it. Like the crowd were just so into it!
Bob: The place just went insane! Normally, in a place like that, there'll be people at the back of it, there's gonna people that just watch. Not that they don't enjoy it, but they just have a beer. Like they're not massively into us... But everyone was just like [screams] 'AAAAHHHHHH'. So it was just incredible that night was, tonight will be the same and tomorrow probably will be. If we nail all of them, touch wood, then...
Snoz: We've gone all the way!
Bob: Ha yeah! But, erm, yeah, last night was great!
What's your favourite song to perform live?
Snoz: Uppercut for me.
Bob: Yeah, that one, too.
Snoz: That's my favourite song, we've ever done! I think for me.
Bob: There's a nice mix of...
Snoz: All of it? It's classic Blackout, it's shouting, it's singing and there's riffs.
Bob: Yes and, according to the internet, we've only ever written 3 songs! Which I think is quite good, 'cause most bands get by on one!
Snoz: Most punk bands...
Bob: Most metal bands... [starts singing along to a guitar riff]
[Snoz joins in]
Snoz: There we are, and we've got 3 different ones!
Snoz: On this tour I think it's gotta be Higher.
Bob: Higher And Higher.
Snoz: Like yesterday was mental. I can't work out bodies, just limbs!
And then people join in on the rap.
Bob: Oh yes 2000 white people, with no rhythm! 'Hello I just woke up from blacking out...'
Bob: That's always quite funny! Yeah, Higher's fun. I like playing Hope actually!
Snoz: Girls always start crying when we okay that, I don't know why?!
Bob: There was a girl there right in front of me, she was looking and she started going [does crying face] and I was like 'Aww'.
Are you sure it wasn't just 'cause she hated it?! [laughs]
Bob: Oh! I dunno. 'Ooh no they're playing it again!'
If people take one message, from The Blackout, seeing you live and your music, what would it be?
Snoz: That's exactly what I was thinking! Fuck it, just have a laugh!
Bob: Just have a laugh! Like, you get all these type of American bands, who are all angsty and stuff. I can understand to a certain extent, I suppose when you're growing up you can relate to that. But Americans, they sorta like hammer it over. [Whiney American voice] 'Aww life is so hard man! Oh god, I think I might cut off my arm and stick it up my head'. And you know, you're like so Orange County, your parents are millionaires. They bought all the gear for you and all you fat friends to get a van and drive around California, to get to where ever and it's like, I understand why you wanna do it, like to truly get it out of your system. Like Jonathan Davies from Korn. Right, I loved Korn when I was 16, but he's still whinging! And it's like come on now, you're nearly 40, you've been a millionaire. Yeah just like have a laugh. Music is just meant to be entertaining and uplifting and it's to feel awesome. Like if you don't like it, you have to exaggerate what you're feeling. So if you're sad, you put a sad song one [mock sobs]. Whereas, if you put a happy song on, and you're like "This is brilliant". Like I was on a run the other day and some 1980s music came on, and it was so uplifting, that I ran faster! Everyone in the 1980s must have a top laugh, 'cause it's just like [starts humming a tune]. It's awesome and uplifting and like. It's pretty much like a Rocky soundtrack!
Snoz: We're just up there and have a laugh like.
Snoz: 'Cause we never thought we'd play anywhere like this!
Bob: Of course we dreamed about it. We never thought it would actually happen.
Snoz: I guess we thought, you know, keep on playing, play some pubs and have a laugh like. But then we started doing bigger shows, and it got to this size and we're like 'fucking hell', as we just don't take anything seriously. We're not the greatest musicians in the world, we don't claim to be. We just have a laugh like. One thing when I'm on stage is if I was there and people were like 'meh'. I'd rather go daft so people are like 'wahey'.
Bob: There's always a point in every gig, where I've burst out laughing. Or it's something that somebody's said, like one of those clowns we've got in front of us. But like surely a show like this should just be... fun!? You want to pay your money and go there 'cause you know you're gonna have a good time.
Snoz: [Mocks] 'Oh yeah I went to see Morrissey there and we all cried together'.
Bob: [Mocks] 'Yeah, they told me not to eat meat, or ducks or this or whatever.'
Snoz: Wanker! I fucking hate him.
Bob: Biggest wanker!
Bob: I fucking hate Morrissey, the pretentious wanker!
Bob: [sighs] So yeah it's just about having fun! We don't pretend to be like, Rage Against The Machine, they're an important political band, and that's what they set out to be. We're not that kinda band, we're just about having fun. Let's have a laugh. Let's just all have a laugh, 'cause if everything is fucked, then who cares?
Snoz: There we are!
Thank you very much for your time!
We exchange pleasantries, hugs and I am on my way into the queue to enjoy the show. Let's hope it tops the last show!.