Q&A: Blaenavon

It’s been four years since Hampshire natives Blaenavon released Into The Night/ Denim Patches. They have since toured with bands such as The Hunna, Sundara Karma and The Sherlocks, despite having only released a handful of songs. But now with a finite set of songs that is “no longer quite good and actually amazing”, Benjamin Gregory, Frank Wright and Harris McMillan have scheduled their debut album release for the 7th of April, the last date of their current headline UK tour. We caught up with Blaeners before they played at the Joiners, Southampton to chat about holding off on the album, the Northern Lights, and the social media habits of postmen.

So how does it feel to be headlining again?

BG:  It’s lovely it feels awesome, people are here for us and they know all the words and that hasn’t happened for a very long time

FW:  Yeah this is the first time we’re playing headline shows and actually filling out rooms and selling out which is pretty cool. Normally we won’t, and we’ll play a headline show and be like ah ok, no one actually likes us

Who has been your favourite band/s to tour with?

BG: I like going on tour with Sundara Karma

FW: And also Night Cafe, they are such fun guys

BG: It was Night Cafe, Blaeners, Sundara Karma and it was just the best tour ever because we’re all the greatest friends, and had the same fans, so they all felt like headline shows for us and the Night Café. Everyone knew all the words; it was very, very cool.

Do you ever listen to your own music for pleasure?

HM: Only for business

BG: When we have to improve mixes of songs…

FW: And sometimes that’s on a drive

BG: We did once, we listened to our 2012 EP in the van and we were like, yeah this is pretty fucked up

HM: And there was the first time we heard the album together driving up to London in Bret’s rumbly speakers with lots of treble and stuff, and we were like yeah this is good

BG: Yeah we listened to the album in full, and we were really stuck in traffic in London and Prague came on, and we all started to like, lose our shit and like people looking through the car window at us like smashing our heads around and knocking our little mirrors

They probably wanted to be a part of it

FW: That’s how we want people to feel when they listen to our album, like they want to smash their car up from the inside out – and stuck in traffic

HM:  Lost in the music but stuck in the world

Would you still ‘lose your shit’ to the first song that you guys ever wrote together?

BG: It’s kind of a slower jam. Well ‘Denim Patches’ is the first Blaenavon song, but we used to have a song called ‘Far and Further Away’, when we were a little band

FW: You could head bang to that actually

BG: Yeah if I heard someone playing that really well I’d probably be like, fair cop lads

How many old songs have made it onto the album?

BG: The oldest one is ‘Swans’, we released that on Bandcamp in like 2012 and that’s made it all the way through these five years which is pretty awesome, and ‘Prague’s still about so yeah. A few oldies and a lot of stuff from the end of 2015 as well, so there’s a big gap in song writing time.

Was that because of exam prioritisation?

FW: To begin with yeah, but then it was like because of trying to do exams we were not a great band, and we wanted to make ourselves a really good band so we kind of spent a lot of time doing that, writing, demoing, just yeah, all of that stuff

HM: Well we thought Franks A Level in music technology would help the band, but it didn’t actually

FW: I’ve never used it in real life

HM: Frank could have taught that course

BG: One day he will

What would you guys have done had you not continued with the band?

BG: I think I would probably be teaching A Level music tech

HM: I’d still be in the fourth grade taking A Level music tech – precocious, but dumb I am

FW:I don’t know anything about music tech I’d be, I dunno…

BG: A painter!


BG: Harris would actually be an expert in sea monsters, that’s what would really happen, none of us would do music tech

FW: None of us would paint either I’m rubbish at it – painting and decorating I mean, not like, artistic painting

BG: I’d probably do the noblest job in the whole world apart from being in a band if I wasn’t in one, and that’d be being a postman

HM: spreading the gospel of paper instead of rock

BG:  Yeah, spreading the word – literally spreading the word, being a postman

HM: It’s a lot easier to spread the word being a postman than it is being in a moderately successful indie band

BG: Postmen don’t have instagram, Harris

Why did you wait so long to release the album, and how did you find it having to keep so much material to yourselves for so long?

FW: We wanted it to be amazing and it would have been quite good so we waited until it was no longer quite good and actually amazing

BG:  Having all these things that we knew we really wanted to release and people needed to hear but having to wait between like, 2 or 3 years for people to hear it gets really frustrating, ‘cause you want people to know what you’re up to right now. We’ve got new songs from this year and last year that I wanna be playing at these shows, but obviously we need to wait, but you get used to it and it makes it kind of more exciting when it finally comes out, like ‘Alice Come Home’ came out 3 days or so ago, and that’s from a long, long time ago and I’m glad people finally heard a good version of it, feels good.

What unreleased songs are you playing from the album on this tour?

BG: We’re playing a few new ones from the album, one called ‘Swans’, the super old one I was talking about, and a song called ‘Take Care’ that people haven’t heard yet, which is the first track on the album and right on the other side of the spectrum like, brand new. Then our next single ‘Lonely Side’, we’re gonna do that tonight.

What song are you most proud of writing at this point?

BG: The title track of the record, ‘That’s Your Lot’, which is the last song on the album I would say is probably my fondest lyrical moment I think.

What’s it about?

BG: It’s about having your heart broken (chuckles) – no, it’s about reflecting on a really long time in your life and realising that yeah it was good for some reason but it’s probably alright that it’s over now. I think when you’re like 20, or 21 years old, you’re going to write about like, well I am anyway, human relationships and what you’re experiencing at this age and so there’s a lot of that.

What’s your favourite place or festival you’ve visited as a band?

BG: I love Austin, Texas. We’ve been to SXSW two years in a row now, and we’ve kind of learnt how to be there, and how to exist in that environment and it’s fucking so much fun

HM: Iceland was really fun too

Did you see the Northern Lights?

HM: No,

FW: I did

HM: No, Frank you were just fucked

FW: I wasn’t, I actually saw them!

BG: You were just fucking pissed mate

HM: We were in the same place, I think you were inside!

FW: You guys were inside like, throwing up on Riley or whatever it was

HM: You were in the kitchen watching the ham

BG: WASHING the ham?

HM: No watching the ham, Aurora Borealis, “localised in your kitchen Seymour” (Simpsons reference)

BG: Do you mean steamed clams Harris?

FW: Sorry, ignore these buffoons

You guys must have a pretty strong repertoire of hilarious/ embarrassing stories by now?

BG: As far as embarrassing stories go, I have a pretty good one. I lost all my friends and then I bumped into the band unknown mortal Orchestra and I had never met them before and I was like you mind if I hang out with you

FW: No we’d met them at a festival before we got high with them!

BG: Well we’d met the drummer briefly, but I don’t even think he was there. But I met the singer and I was like, can I hang out with you guys and he was like yeah sure, so we went around drinking for ages and had a really great time and became good friends. Then we went to this last bar in Iceland, and I have very little recollection of what happened in there apart from that I was like guys I’ll be right back, ran away from the table into a different room where there was still people having drinks there, threw up on the floor, and then went back and sat at my seat with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and had a beer. And then I went back to the hotel and I was with the singer and I was like “Harris, this is Monty, the singer from that band that you like”, and I don’t know what his name is but it’s not that!

Are you always the guy who always gets the most wasted in the band Ben?

BG: Um it has been over the years, but recently at our big events Frank has actually kind of overtaken me

FW: I haven’t got that wasted like, very recently, but you’re right

BG: Yeah Franks been the new guy that’s been doing funny things that people talk about in the morning

You need that guy

BG: Yeah you do, you do.

Words By Georgia Balson

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