The Blackout are on the road to the Reading and Leeds Festivals, and to warm up are playing a select few intimate shows. George has caught them in York, where vocalists Gavin Butler and Sean Smith, drummer Gareth ‘Snoz’ Lawrence, and guitarist James Davies, as well as tonight’s supporting act The Guns‘ frontman Alex Wiltshire, have a lot to say; they talk Warped Tour, crabcore, try to catch George out on illegally downloading their album, and why every Welsh twin girl eats shit. Here’s how it went down…
George: Can you say your name and what you do in the band?
Snoz: He’s Gavin and he’s a singer and general good guy.
Gavin: He’s Snoz, and he plays drums and he can pick me up easily.
George: Can you put a straight up genre on your music? ‘Cause it seems pretty uncategorisable.
Gavin: We’re just a rock band at the end of the day, I think. A lot of people try and pigeon-hole bands and stuff, and a lot of our songs, and pretty much all of our albums are so different to each other that you couldn’t put them all in one basket; there’s like really heavy rock ‘n’ roll songs, there’s heavy beatdowns and stuff and there’s really poppy, pop songs like.
Snoz: I’m getting quite old now, people are talking about different genres, there’s so many different genres, there’s metalcore, hardcore, thrashcore, spazzcore, corecore…
Snoz: Crabcore, is there crabcore now? Who the fuck does crabcore?
George: The American Attack Attack!
Gavin: Ahhh, is that because they do the crab thing?
Snoz: They’re rubbish.
Gavin: Aw, God.
Snoz: We’ve always been about, if we’ve got a good riff, we’ll just go with it. If it sounds like N*SYNC or if it sounds like Slayer, just go with it.
George: How are you finding the Leeds and Reading warm-up shows so far?
Gavin: They’re going really well, we’ve only done one.
Snoz: We did two festivals last weekend, which were awesome.
Gavin: But Coventry was awesome, we’ve never played the Kasbah before have we?
Snoz: No, and yeah it was really hot and sweaty, we played like 18 songs…
Gavin: Too many songs…
Snoz: [laughs] Yeah, too many songs, and we came out by the end of it, and we were soaking wet, absolutely soaking wet. It was like, my fingers, you know the prints? That you get when you’ve been in the bath too long? My fingers were like that, It was that hoty. If you go sit on my stool now, it’s still soaking wet. …I wouldn’t, like.
George: You’ve got smaller supports than usual, do you think it’s good to give a smaller band a chance?
Gavin: Yeah, well we’ve brought The Guns with us cause they’re good friends of ours, and they’re a good band as well, it’s good to just have our friends out with us for a couple of days, pretty much, and an excuse to hang with the boys like.
Snoz: Yeah, the first band, the band that are opening, are called Middle Finger Salute, and they’re a band we met at Warped, and they’re from Blackburn and they played to what, 250 people?
Snoz: And that was the most they’ve ever played to, and they’re saying when they normally play in Blackburn they normally play in a pub, in pubs for old men, because they’re like a punk band and nobody really books punk bands any more. So they play in pubs for old men, apart from when they played Warped, which was awesome because Kevin Lyman saw them on like, MySpace and stuff and gave them a chance, which is awesome, so it’s good just to give people a chance to play and stuff.
Gavin: We got given it.
George: Are you excited for Leeds and Reading? You’re headlining, so to speak.
Gavin: Yes! Very much so. We’re main support on the Leeds to Bring Me The Horizon, and then in Reading, we swap round then, so we’re headlining that day, very excited.
Snoz: We’ve collectively been going to Reading, on and off, since about 1996, I guess, so to play at Reading, like last year we played main stage, to play at Reading was something else, but to headline a stage this year is fucking ridiculous.
Gavin: Yeah, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, for me. After we play, I’ll be like “Ahh, I dreamt that.”
George: Who are you planning to see, if anyone?
Snoz: I wanna see Atreyu…
Gavin: The Bronx.
Snoz: Yeah, The Bronx, Mariachi El Bronx… Are Fall Out Boy playing?
Gavin: I’m gonna stick around Sunday in Reading to watch Lostprophets…
[Sean enters the room at this point accompanied by a pie and sits down at the dressing room table.]
George: I spoke to Sean at Slam Dunk, how did that go, and how was the tour around that?
Snoz: Wicked, Slam Dunk, we played it last year, and it was just unbelievable, like, all the people in that one little sweaty room.
Gavin: Yeah, everyone on top of each other, it was brilliant.
Snoz: The tour around it was good as well, but that was good because it brought the the actual tour up, so that was good and we got to see a lot of bands we hadn’t seen for a while like the boys in Attack! Attack!, we got to see Hundred Reasons play, got to see Hexes, so it was good.
George: Why are your support acts for your tours always amazingly good?
Gavin: We like to bring bands that we like over, and it just turns out we love awesome bands. [laughs]
Snoz: We like to have a variation for people as well, so we brought the Medic Droid, and then From First To Last, which in a normal bill they wouldn’t go together, but we just like to pick different things for people to see, and hear, and stuff, just not the old three band bill of “metal band, metal band, metal band”, I’m not saying we’re a metal band.
Gavin: We like to be really…erm…
Gavin: No, I was thinking selfish. So, we get to watch these bands every night, so yeah it’s pretty good we get to watch them.
Snoz: We’ve always liked bands like From First To Last and Silverstein, so to get them on tour and play with us.
Sean: We only take out bands we like.
George: The next question’s for Sean, speaking of Slam Dunk, you did a DJ set there, are you planning to do anything a bit more frequent with that?
Sean: I’d like to, but at the moment, I’ve got a few lined up, but it’s not really rock music that I play, so it upsets a few people, but then some people are quite open minded and enjoy it.
Snoz: But then you have replied to those people who didn’t like it, with “Fuck ’em.”
Sean: Yeah, but it’s more dancey than it is rock, I guess, but yeah I love doing it, and there’s more coming, more to come for sure.
George: You played Download this year, twice, how was that?
Gavin: Brilliant! Both times. The second time we thought this was going to be rubbish, because Slipknot are on, and The Prodigy are on, so no-one’s gonna be here.
Snoz: And we told people the wrong tent.
Sean: You say we, I definitely did!
Snoz: We spent most of the day telling people it was the Turborg tent, they were like “Oh, where are you playing tomorrow?” Turborg, over there! That one! Definitely that one! It was the other one.
Gavin: But yeah, it was good, I’ve never been to the festival before, and it was amazing, actually the best weekend I’ve never had.
Snoz: I’ve only been there once before, and they apparently had a different layout now because of the track, somebody crashing or something.
Gavin: There’s so many good bands that weekend as well, just watching bands all weekend.
Snoz: It’s such a well organized festival as well. UK festivals, are a bit of a shambles, but this one had more of a feel about it.
Gavin: And I got to meet Corey Taylor, which is always good.
Snoz: I met Motley Crue, and three quarters of Pantera.
George: Who else did you manage to see at Download?
Gavin: Literally all that day (Friday) I spent at the Main Stage, watching Faith No More, Limp Bizkit, watched a bit of Korn, but Faith No More were the band for me that, well, forever now, was literally the best show I’ve ever seen. Amazing.
George: You also played on Warped Tour this Summer, how was that, and how well were you received?
Gavin: It’s hard work because it’s literally starting again for us over there, so it’s us going, flying over and asking people to come over and listen to some music and stuff, maybe come watch us, it went good though, cause there was more people watching us by the end of the set than there was to start with, so we catch people as they came past, so it’s pretty cool.
Snoz: It’s the thing of starting again which excites us. If people watch us, awesome, if people don’t, deal with it, you know. No need to throw your toys out of the pram.
Gavin: There was a few kids there who came to see us and stuff, who knew all the words to our songs, which blew our minds, because we’re on the other side of the world.
George: Some people say now that Warped has become more of a scene festival, with bands like brokeNCYDE, Jeffree Star, Millionaires, etc. playing…
Sean: brokeNCYDE can fuck off.
Gavin: Yeah, there was a lot of bands like that over there but then there’s a lot of amazing bands that aren’t getting as much attention as these scene bands, but it’s like, there’s an awesome band called Therefore I Am, sound like Boysetsfire kinda stuff, P.O.S, P.O.S were amazing…
Snoz: The After Midnight Project.
Gavin: Yeah, they were pretty cool aswell, you do find these gems in amongst all the bullshit that was there this year.
Snoz: I think people are getting angry that bands like brokeNCYDE and stuff are on it, but I heard somebody say, somebody organising the festival saying that back in the day, which was a Wednesday, punk music was all about playing music which people didn’t conform to and people didn’t like, so people are saying, what’s the difference now, between scene bands like brokeNCYDE, when everybody hates it, when a few years ago it used to be NOFX and everybody hated them. So they keep saying these bands are the most punk rock bands on the tour, when they actually weren’t, they were fucking shit.
Gavin: Fair play to them doing what they like doing and stuff, but it’s just not our cup of tea.
Sean: Some of the screaming’s not even live, though. I watched them one day at Warped and it was just a joke.
Snoz: Didn’t the fella nearly drop his mic and catch it? Or was that us?
Sean: Especially them talking about bitches and stuff, I mean they’re the ugliest bunch of cunts I’ve ever seen in my life.
Sean: Only The Guns are uglier than brokeNCYDE.
[At this point, Alex (The Guns – vocals/guitars) is sitting on the couch with a guitar in hand.]
Alex: True that is, I can vouch for that.
George: Have you got any interesting festival stories from this year?
Sean: Gavin shagged a man.
Gavin: This is not true, at all, there’s no substance in his remark.
Sean: We kept throwing Rhys in a bin on warped tour. [laughs]
Gavin: Yeah, on Warped, for some reason we got drunk one night…
Snoz: He started getting mouthy, didn’t he?
Gavin: Yeah, he started giving it that, so we picked him up and put him in a bin, in one of those big barrel bins.
Sean: Garbage can.
Gavin: He was having such a laugh, trying to be put in a bin, he was like, “Right, boys, you’ve gotta try and put me in a bin, it gives me exercise, it gives me stuff to do” ’cause he was fucking hammered, so every night we tried to put him in a bin.
Snoz: And every night after that, we tried to put him in a bin, he’d deny it. “You didn’t put me in a bin”, and we were like “Rhys, there was 5 people here!”
Sean: Actually, as soon as we got here I tried to put him in this bin but he was having none of it, he was rigid, his leg was stuck under there [points to a desk over the bin] so I couldn’t put him in the bin.
Gavin: We have some good footage of him just walking, and out of nowhere, a shot of a bin just goes “whooosh” over his head. [laughs]
Sean: With all that stale chicken.
Alex: Distilled chicken?
Snoz: Yeah, it was horrible.
George: You’ve had a pretty busy summer period, when was the last time you got out and saw a gig yourselves instead of playing?
Sean: Last night, we went to see Lostprophets last night, before that, erm…
Snoz: I went to see The Guns, in Newport, they were alright.
Gavin: Family Force 5 in London.
Sean: We missed My Passion, we all got in late, but we saw Family Force 5 rocking.
Snoz: I went to see Young Guns in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago.
George: You recently released The Best In Town, are you happy with the awesome response it’s got so far?
Sean: Yes. We wish we’d of sold more, like a million.
Gavin: If it’d made me a millionaire, it’d be a lot better.
Sean: Maybe a million per town.
Alex: A million per square metre. [laughs]
Snoz: Yeah, it’s definitely a lot better than we thought it’d be.
George: What are your thoughts on people downloading it for free?
Snoz: It’s gonna happen…
Sean: I hate them! I hate them, they’re all cunts. Did you download it for free?
George: I didn’t, actually.
Sean: Have you got it with you?
George: Well, no…
Alex: He looked left, then! Let’s kick the fuck out of him!
George: I got the EP at the same time.
Sean: Where’s the reciept?
George: I haven’t got it with me. [laughs]
Sean: LIAR! What’re you lying for!? [laughs]
Snoz: We’re not happy with it, but it’s gonna happen, so…
Gavin: Can’t really do much about it.
[Sean has just started eating some crackling star dust candy, everyone looks at the crackling sounds in his mouth.]
George: I didn’t realise you could get that anymore!
Sean: Yeah, you can, right there. [points to his mouth]
Gavin: I thought they’d banned it because people were going blind. [laughs]
Alex: Putting it in their eyes?
Alex: Get the tip of your bell-end, right, and just pour a little drizzle on it.
Alex: Just tap a little bit on and see what’s happening, I’ve never done it, could be alright.
Sean: Sorry, where were we?
George: What’s your favourite songs on the album?
Sean: All of ’em!
Gavin: Every single one.
Sean: It’s basically like asking a father to pick his favourite child, whereas in my case, my dad would probably pick my brother, but most dads will pick equally.
Snoz: Yeah, in my case, my father would pick my nephew, which is not even his child so…
Sean: He’s picking somebody else’s son! [laughs, before pausing and listening to the crackling candy still in his mouth] I can’t stop that! I’m still talking and it’s doing in my head.
Gavin: Nah, they’re all tunes.
Snoz: I think my favourite heavy song, is the first one, Uppercut, then my favourite non-heavy song is Silence, ’cause it’s nice and gay. [laughs]
George: Are there any albums out this year that you’d recommend to people, or are excited to hear yourselves?
Snoz: New Converge album, sounds like it’s gonna be tidy, new Every Time I Die, I’m just listing Epitaph bands, [laughs]
James: Maylene and the Sons Of Disaster album came out like two weeks ago.
Gavin: The new Used album actually, I’m looking forward to, because they’ve moved away from John Feldmann and I’ll be interested to see what it turns out like.
Alex: All The Guns’ stuff.
Gavin: All The Guns’ stuff. [laughs]
George: At the moment, Wales seems to be quite a hotbed of talent for new bands as well as established acts, which bands from your home country are you fans of, and which Welsh bands would you tip to be the next big thing?
Sean: None of them, they’re all shit. Basically it’s just us. Ahh, there’s loads, there’s fucking, Anterior, Straight Lines are alright…
Gavin: Attack! Attack!…
Sean: Attack! Attack!… Flims In Grass Trousers, [laughs] Dopaminge…
Gavin: The Old Guns..
George: Do you guys like Skindred?
Sean: I love Skindred.
Alex: They’ve been around for years.
Sean: We are fans of Skindred.
Snoz: We do love Skindred.
Gavin: Rhys loves Benji.
Snoz: Think of a genre, out of every genre, there’s a Welsh band that are the best at it. Go on, think of a band, think of a genre.
Gavin: You say crabcore and I will punch you in the face. [laughs]
Sean: Attack Attack! …US. [laughs]
Snoz: We were on about that, apparently, they are actually known as crabcore.
Sean: They’re crapcore.
Snoz: Go on, think of a genre, there is a Welsh band who are the best at it.
Sean: Stereophonics, fella!
Snoz: Shaped By Fate, they like a chug, a slow chug.
Sean: Boys With X-Ray Eyes are alright, they just talk a load of shit.
Sean: Pop-punk, there was a band called Pete’s Sake who were brilliant.
Snoz: Save Your Breath.
Sean: Save Your Breath, Portraits, Attack! Attack!, fucking hell son, try, come on man! [laughs] Cross genres if you have to!
Sean: Crunk, that’s not really a…
Alex: Streetdust! [laughs]
Snoz: What about Shirley-Basseycore? Shirley Bassey.
Sean: Tom Jonescore.
George: Tell us an interesting fact about Wales.
Gavin: About Wales? They have the biggest penis of all mammals.
Sean: Viagra was invented in our town, Merthyr Tydfil.
James: There are no fences in Wales, only hedges.
Snoz: Apparently if you’re from North Wales, you can’t turn left every third Wednesday of the month.
Alex: The first steam train was invented there.
James: So, what you’re gonna have to do is to do your own research, what we’ll do is we’ll do a call my bluff thing, and we’ll tell you three things that are complete bollocks, and we’ll tell you one of them’s true. I’ll start; every single world salt is mined in Wales.
Sean: Merthyr Tydvil was once the capital of Wales. That is true.
Alex: Every set of female twins, born in Wales, the youngest one always ends up eating shit by the age of 20.
Alex: It’s a fact, they eat their own poo. At least one point in their life, from age 0 to 20, the youngest twin, female born, in Wales, will at one point, between the ages of 0 and 20, so baby, and the age of 20, will of at least tried a poo once. [laughs]
Gavin: Voluntarily like?
Alex: [mimicking an attempt to eat poo] Ohhh, it’s on it now! It’s on my hands already!
Alex: That one’s definitely the true one. Down in Brecon, Johnny Depp filmed down there, near the castles.
Gavin: That’s true.
James: Don’t say which one is true! He’s gotta work it out!
Alex: But we said all of them! That’s true. We don’t upturn our Whiskey bottles.
Gavin: That’s true.
George: What are the plans for The Blackout in the near future?
Snoz: We’ve got two shows in September.
James: [laughs] Oh! Oh! We’re doing stuff! We’ve got two shows in September! [laughs] and for Christmas, I gave my auntie a very, very big plate.
Gavin: We’ve got stuff in Europe planned, November and December, back in the UK for January, hopefully.
Snoz: We’ll have a big tour in the UK in January. It may not be big.
Gavin: Maybe it will.
Snoz: Hopefully, it’s gonna be big.
Gavin: Medium one.
Snoz: It probably won’t be.
Sean: It definitely is gonna be.
George: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Snoz: The Guns.
Snoz: I Set My Friends On Fire are pretty good.
Gavin: Maylene and the Sons Of Disaster.
Sean: Hexes, fo’ sho’! Young Guns, The Dead Formats, they’re really good, Lights!
Snoz: Erm, Middle Finger Salute.
Sean: Gayllows, which is my Gallows cover band, where all the songs are about gays, Starin’ At The Nude Bois, In The Belly Of A Man, we’ve got Fags, plays the guitar instead of Lags. [laughs]
Alex: There’s a band called Fuck Knuckle, who are really good. They fight their way through the set, they don’t actually play, they just sort of… [plays guitar and punches].
Gavin: Yeah, all the bands that we said and Fuck Knuckle [laughs]
George: Do you have anything to add?
Sean: Nah, nothing really, just check out the album or don’t! [laughs]
The Blackout’s second album, The Best In Town, is out now through Epitaph. For more information on The Blackout visit: www.myspace.com/theblackout