Wielding raucous rock & roll anthems and a reputation for explosive live shows, UK post-hardcore dudes The Blackout are preparing to bring the party vibes to Soundwave this year with their aptly titled new album, Start The Party. Before they touch down in Australia this February, Killyourstereo.com had a quick chat to bassist Rhys Lewis about touring, befriending the Dirty Sanchez guys and climbing festival tents while drunk.
You’re heading our way for Soundwave soon, and if you’ve looked at the lineup for this one, it’s going to be an absolutely massive tour. Are there any bands on the lineup that you’re particularly looking forward to checking out or hanging out with?
Metallica are one of my favourite bands of all time, so getting to see them every day will be incredible. Hopefully I’ll get to meet them out there too. We know about half the bands on the lineup, so it will be great fun to hang out and see them all again.
This will actually be your second appearance at Soundwave, having previously toured as part of the 2011 festival lineup. Do you remember much from Soundwave last time?
Yeah, I have very fond memories of Soundwave. It’s my favourite festival I’ve ever played. The weather was great, the bands were great and it’s so well organised and put together. Everything runs so smoothly.
Given the title of your new album, who is the biggest party animal in the band and why?
We all have our moments, I guess. We’re all in this band to have a good time. It could all end the next day, so we all try to have as much fun onstage and offstage as we can.
Festivals like Soundwave are notorious for crazy things going on backstage. Do you have any favourite festival stories or moments that you can share with us?
We played a festival show a few years ago in Amsterdam on my birthday. After we came off stage, I drank for a solid five hours and tried to climb a tent of another stage whilst in fancy dress. We had another show about two minutes later. Ended up being one of the worst shows of my life. I learned my lesson… sort of.
While you guys can obviously have a bit of a laugh at yourself, do you think some of your contemporaries take themselves too seriously sometimes? Especially in the hardcore/metal scenes?
I wouldn’t pinpoint that scene as taking itself too seriously. I know a lot of hardcore and metal bands that like to have fun. I guess there are bands in every genre that can take themselves too seriously and it’s up to them I guess. We don’t like to push ‘fun’ on people, but you have to have a laugh every now and then otherwise this job will make you mad.
For some reason the start of ‘Keep Singing’ reminds me of something by U2. Would you agree or am I a complete bell end?
It’s more of an ‘80s Michael Jackson riff. But I guess it’s kind of a big, pleasant guitar part and could be seen in a U2 way.
Is Start The Party just about having a good time or are there other themes mixed in there too?
Yeah, having a good time is the main theme. There are also other themes that can attach themselves to that as well. It’s more of a ‘keep positive’ record than a ‘just go out and party’ record.
Is that one of the blokes from Dirty Sanchez on the cover of Start The Party? If so, how do you know the Dirty Sanchez guys and do you ever get up to shenanigans like they do?
Matthew Pritchard is the man in question. He is truly an amazing guy. One of the funniest and nicest guys I’ve ever met. His way of thinking played a big part in shaping this album. We knew him through Sean and went away to Ibiza with him last year. As it happens he’s been on the road with us for a few shows and we’ve had a couple of messy nights with him.
So you guys are from Merthyr Tydfil – where the fuck is that? Is it a small country town? Are there advantages to starting a band in a regional area as opposed to metropolitan hotspots?
Merthyr is in the middle of nowhere so for us, like many others, you start a band because there’s nothing else to do. There’s a huge scene down in South Wales. A great community. Luckily we managed to make it out, whereas a lot of other bands from bigger areas never quite make it through, mainly because they have a lot to compete with.
What are your top five party-starting anthems?
‘Start The Party’ – The Blackout
‘Party Hard’ – Andrew WK (obviously)
‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’ – Beastie Boys
‘Rollin’ – Limp Bizkit
‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ – Cyndi Lauper
Just to mix it up: if you could organise your own music festival anywhere in the world, where would it be held, what would it be called and who would play?
It would be called Rhys Stock. It would take place in Wales, Australia and Japan because they are all my favourite places in the world. It would be over a weekend and I’d reform Beastie Boys, Queen and Michael Jackson and have them as headliners.
Given the amount of amazing bands that have out of the UK in the past few years, was it hard getting attention from promoters and record labels when you started out? What do you think allowed you to stand out from the pack?
It was pretty tough getting off the ground to start off. Constant gigging is the best way for any band to get noticed. Once we got our foot in the door with that we had a lot of help from friends in bigger bands and promoters. It’s a simple idea, but one of the best ways to do well is just be nice to people and make lots of friends, not enemies. Further down the line other people will repay you the favour.
What do you do for fun when you’re on tour?
Gigging is the best fun you can have. In between gigs isn’t really that fun, but we do like hanging out together. A few of us like to drink and get loose. Also, we travel with an Xbox in a flight case, so that always helps to pass the time.
And a few quick ones to finish up on…
What’s your comedy movie of all time and why?
Dumb and dumber is probably the funniest film of all time. Every single line is gold. We watch it pretty much every tour that we’re on.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Probably someone crap. But if I had a choice I’d have Arnold Schwarzenegger because he’s the greatest man that has ever lived.
Most embarrassing album in your record collection?
I’ve never purchased any music that I’m embarrassed by, fortunately. Maybe other people might think my tastes are naff, but I don’t care about that.