Backstage with The Blackout

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Apparently sitting around and playing FIFA is not something that a rock band wants to be associated with. Sean Smith, one of the frontmen of Welsh post-hardcore The Blackout, asks – firmly tongue-in-cheek, mind – that I write of girls in the backstage area, along with substances more associated with Motley Crue and the Rolling Stones. Fortunately this was not the case as, once I got over my nerves, I found I was in the company of some really nice guys.

The Blackout were playing in Preston at 53 Degrees Club on January 24th, and I decided to try and get an interview with them. When it came to fruition I was pretty damn excited – before this point I’d seen this band seven times live and I did look up to them a lot. So it was with nerves abound that I headed to Preston, with my little notebook of interview questions – hoping I would neither bore them, irritate them or offend them. Obviously I had over-thought this, as usual.

Upon arriving at the club, I was of course early and it took me a while to get hold of anyone who would let me inside. This was not good as I now had frostbitten nose, a wet hat draped on my head and my coat was starting to smell of drying dog – exactly what you want when you’re going to interview your first professional band. I got inside, however, and met their tour manager who took me through into the dressing room.  A rack of coloured guitars were standing behind the door, a rider with nothing particularly extraordinary on it, a fridge full of beer, and a couple of sofas. Gavin Butler, who is the other singer in the band, stood up to greet me. It became apparent that I would conduct the interview with him and with Gareth Lawrence (better known as Snoz); the drummer in the band.

Once I got over my nerves the interview went swimmingly. I discovered that Snoz would like nothing more than to tour around the Caribbean, that he would jump off a cliff if he couldn’t save his bandmates hanging off said cliff, and that his favourite sandwich is “all the meat”. Gavin’s is bacon and egg by the way – apparently it’s good for the hangovers. Now, this was a pretty exciting day for me anyway but then I discovered that I was allowed to hang around the venue and that I would have a photo-pass – this day was just getting better! After watching the two support acts soundcheck (Lost Alone and Rat Attack respectively), I was invited back into the dressing room by Matthew (a guitarist). I got to drink a beer and watch TV with one of my favourite bands. Pretty decent turn of events if you ask me.

The show was brilliant as well. Rat Attack were good even though they were playing to a small crowd; they tried to get a mosh pit going and I managed to get elbowed in the face and split my lip – just my luck. Lost Alone were very good as well – much improved if I may say so from the last time I saw them three years ago; their crowd interaction has made leaps and bounds. And then The Blackout exploded onto stage as they always do, and for the next hour-and-a-half, despite Sean having a wicked sore throat, they tore the place up. They are a fantastic live band, and if you ever get the chance to see them I strongly recommend you take it. You will not be disappointed. Their relationship with the crowd is amazing, their set is always diverse, the sing-alongs are great, the guitars are loud… I could go on for reasons why they’re brilliant. The Blackout is one of those bands that has a special relationship with their fans; people seem to support them to the end and with a live show like I saw in Preston, they absolutely deserve it.

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