I recently did a piece on ‘Five British Rock Bands that Could Use a Break’ which highlighted young British talent at the hard end of the music industry. This piece came about from reviewing the bands in question and a personal interest in where and how future talent will come to the fore. As a follow up, and after having read an article by Hannah Rose Ewens on Vice about big bands that still had day jobs (or night jobs as the case may be), I decided to contact the bands to find out a little more about just how hard the hard end really is, so as to shed some light on what you have to go through to make it. Blind Wives have very kindly given me a superb interview offering startling insight into what it’s really like on the music scene and just how little money is finding its way down the food chain.
Blind Wives are a three piece from Lincolnshire, in the UK, who play a delightful mix of noisy, indie tinged, slightly poppy, vaguely punky, alternative rock. They manage to sound pretty individual and have a great dynamic to their sometimes quirky, sometimes aggressive songs. Lead guitarist/vocalist Luke Pickering works as a sound engineer (and a part-time lecturer), which as well as saving some valuable cash on production, gives them a little extra artistic freedom to experiment soundwise. They do this to good effect on recent release ‘Recovery Positions’ whose guitar sound meanders between dirty transatlantic, hard pack riffs and downbeat fuzz, whilst maintaining a melodic feel with hooks a plenty. The rhythm section of Charlie O’Neill and Will Clark, who work with the mentally disabled and in retail respectively, are extremely tight, shifting effortlessly between the measured and the frantic on the unpredictable tempo changes coming in the twists and turns of their intricate numbers. All in all,Blind Wives make for enjoyable listening and if they continue the development they’ve shown on their latest release, their first LP will be a cracker. Anyway, here’s what they had to say about the tough end of the UK music scene.
What is making the music scene so difficult for new bands?
It seems the best way to get noticed now is to establish yourself as a strong, head-turning live act. It’s live shows which bring people together, get a ‘buzz’ and word-of-mouth going. So the ongoing closure and therefore lack of small venues I believe is one of the biggest issues for new bands trying to make waves. I would argue the Internet has had a massive effect too – it provides people with that instant gratification of finding new music without having to venture out, pay entry for a gig, and then watch a half an hour set.
How competitive is the current scene?
I think whatever music you play, the pool is always going to be overcrowded, but it’s a bit weird for us as we’ve never really managed to fit into a ‘scene’ as such. We’ve been on metal bills, plenty of math-rock bills… lately we’ve got better at finding and playing with acts that are on the same wavelength as us, swapping gigs, shouting out on social media, spreading the word – so I think it’s more a case of helping each other out, rather than ‘competing’, at least in our experience so far.
Do you see the internet as a positive aspect to life in a band/the scene?
The internet is brilliant for all the stuff I just mentioned! We also really enjoy having a say over the marketing, design and promotion of our own stuff, and being self-sufficient would be more difficult without the Internet. It’s difficult… there are pros and cons with everything. People can discover you easily, but then forget you 5 seconds later as they’ve clicked on something else – and a lot of the best music doesn’t necessarily hit you straight away.
Do you have jobs and how do you balance the time?
We all work, yes. We don’t make a profit from the band, so currently it’s a labour of love! We are all thankfully in flexible positions with our jobs, which means we can put the time in to make it worthwhile – there’s been a few changes in that department in the last year or so and it’s resulted in the best year for us as a band. We’re saying yes to a lot more gigs, essentially!
So, how often do you manage to rehearse?
It really depends on how many gigs we have around that time… so if we have a tour or weekender coming up, we might rehearse twice that week. If we’re just focusing on recording on the other hand, maybe every 3 weeks!
How many gigs do you get a month? Is it difficult to get a gig or is it limited by other difficulties?
Lately we have had more luck getting gigs by making friends and swapping gigs with other bands of a similar genre. We don’t have a lot of luck just emailing places out of the blue. Going to gigs, helping each other out and making contacts seems to be the way to go. As for how frequent we gig, it really varies – a couple of months ago we had 4 shows in a week but lately because of holidays and work related stuff we haven’t gigged in a month.
Are you making any money?
We don’t make any money from the band putting it simply. Occasionally we will sell a lot of merch or get a nice pay from playing a gig, but when you weigh up how much you spend on getting that merch made up, CDs duplicated, petrol, food, practice money…
What do you think of streaming services?
Simply put, artists aren’t being paid enough, and I don’t think enough bigger artists speak out about it. It’s brilliant for discovering artists – for example I’ll use Spotify to see if I like the sound of a new album, and then if I like it enough I’ll go out and buy it. Perhaps they should limit more the amount of plays you get for free, or charge more for membership.
How do you promote the band?
By playing as many gigs as we can, and utilising all the usual social media outlets.
What are your short term and long term plans?
We want to push the video side of things, as we’ve just released our new EP and feel all 5 tracks could potentially have some visual accompaniment! Not to mention our 2 music videos are for a song we don’t play anymore and an old recording of a new song, respectively. We’re also intent on getting on the back of a bigger band for a tour probably early next year. Finally, there’s an album to write.
In the meantime, ‘Recovery Positions’ is available for the ridiculously cheap price of three English pounds for the download and four for the CD, right here: http://blindwives.bandcamp.com/album/recovery-positions-ep, the review of which can be read in the following link: http://alreadyheard.com/post/125758036322/album-review-blind-wives-recovery-positions-ep