Interview with Blindness & Light
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I was into music from as far back as I can remember. I wrote a song on guitar, with lyrics, at the age of 9. My family weren’t musicians, I think that made me more determined to be creative in that direction. I was in bands for years doing lots of small gigs with a naive hope that we’d somehow be discovered. It was fun but it led to nothing. Life got in the way. Jobs and bills got in the way. It was that unfinished business that drives me now. The inspiration was rekindled in April 2022 after a couple of redundancies while living on the Isle of Anglesey. I suddenly had time on my hands….more time than ever. I let songwriting and recording absorb almost every waking hour. I think this and running saved me mentally and physically. I always like to believe that positive things can be born from a negative situation.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I read a lot of sci-fi novels and autobiographies. Currently, I’m plowing through the Iain M. Banks Culture series. I proofread my girlfriend’s books. She is an indie author Anathea N. Krrill. Reading a lot is essential, I think, for sparking Ideas and helping with creative sentence structure. It’s often a challenge to condense ideas into a song in a way that sits well with the music. I’m really looking forward to the autobiography Revolutionary Spirit: A Post-Punk Exorcism by Paul Simpson. This’ll be available in September. I’m a big fan of The Wild Swans who certainly deserved a much higher level of success. I can’t wait to read the back story.
How long have you been making music?
As early as the age of 9 it seems, that surprised me when I think about it. I started using 2 tape recorders to do a makeshift multitrack recording at about 14. I messed about for decades in various ways until finally I’ve become quite focused and eventually learned from past mistakes …or so I believe. I’m more productive than ever in my life now. This is partly due to my most excellent producer, Tony Denmade. He lubricates the wheels and is a vital part of what I do.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I have lived in a few different places, from Runcorn to Salford precinct, which has always given me access to much of the world’s best indie music. Years of Liverpool and Manchester music have shaped me for sure. I now live on the Isle of Anglesey off the North Wales mainland. I think the peace, beauty and fantastic people have put me in the right headspace for the first time. Post-punk guru, Henry Priestman (Yachts, It’s Immaterial) lives around the corner from me, his support and knowledge has been a great help. His contribution to The Ballad of Them & Us includes melodica, additional harmonica and also a remix for the album. I also love his stories about supporting the Sex Pistols and being supported by Warsaw (Joy Division) after winning a game of pool
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
Pointless gigs in the past have taught me not to do gigs until they’re useful. My vision for a live show would be just me singing with an acoustic guitar in the right small venue. The band is an informal collective, people are free to come and go as they please. I like this way of working but it doesn’t lend itself to live shows. It’d probably be easier to play live online but that doesn’t quite get the atmosphere.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
If there’s a decent audience I don’t really mind. There are so many possibilities. Let’s see who asks!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
If this could be a fantasy lineup, then The Velvet Underground, Love, The Wild Swans, Radiohead, The Smiths and Joy Division. Is that too much to wish for?
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Find your own self, don’t try to be anyone else.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
This is hard to say, probably at the moment it’s The First Light Of Day. I love the story of a secretly loved but repressed person being liberated, setting the anorak on fire….cauterizing the past and starting anew. It’s a heroic theme that runs through many of my tracks. Some of the lyrics on this track were co-written years ago with Andy Gahan (singer of Geiger) though I revamped them recently to tell this new story.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I get asked all the time to play We All Lose. It’s overtly anti-racist which connects directly with the people I care about. I love to play it too, the change to the breezy uplift (“just look inside, subhuman”) is a fave part for me.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I couldn’t really say what my inspiration is. It’s something I do every day, it just seems natural, like breathing. The creative process usually starts on an acoustic guitar, once the structure and chords are loosely formed then vocal melody and lyrics are laid over the top. Songs go through many iterations of improvement; some songs take 10 min some take 10 years. Occasionally I write songs in a different way by stacking up samples in Ableton LIVE! and recording a live session. The Tannhäuser Gate, which isn’t on the album, was created in this way. I may release an EP of these dream pop / shoegazing tracks one day.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
There’s a recurring theme in Blindness & Light of liberation from an oppressed past. This relates to us as a species. I think we can achieve so much more. We’ve got a long way to go but we need to start by liberating ourselves from negativity. We shouldn’t look to higher powers to sort this out for us, we need to take responsibility.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Our debut album will be released on 1st July 2023. The 2nd album has been written and recording will start in September this year. In the meantime there’ll be a single every 2 months. I also have a side project called Radio Psychosis, which is a collaboration with Mike Juvenile of Liverpool band KEEF, formerly of The Juveniles. Our first single, Television, will be released in August across all streaming platforms.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Facebook is probably the best route overall but there are posts across IG, Twitter and TikTok. www.blindnessandlight.com is pretty up-to-date too with links to the blog, mailing list (if you fancy signing up!), merch (Amazon) and album pre-orders on BandCamp. There’ll be some signed white label album copies going for free randomly for those who sign up for the mailing list. Also the lyrics are on the website.