I usually use Twitter for all my blogging needs nowadays, and I can't fit this into a tweet. Nooo waaay. This is The Blackout. The day started with - well, a blackout. Two days ago, I cut my head open. (Not deliberately. I fell. There was a lot of blood, but it wasn't really deep.) Today, I fell again, and reopened the wound, causing a dual-nostril nosebleed on impact as well. Think, scarlet waterfalls, all over my face, before I even knew that anything was happening. I couldn't walk straight and had to sit still for hours. If I was seeing any other band? I'd stay home. But I said, this is The Blackout.
What's so special about them? How about .... everything!? These six guys embody all that is so-called "Bikki music". Some stuff heavy, some stuff softer, just whatever they want to do. The whole "my way" vibe has always got me, bands that don't do it for conformity, they do it because they love playing music. Is this what one might call "madcore"? The Blackout is the closest thing to madcore in the mainstream. Also, they've supported Limp Bizkit, Sum 41, All Time Low and You Me At Six - four very different bands who have all been extremely important in my life, I don't think that I'd be the same girl without them.
Even when my father and I were in the car, I was still pretty calm about things. It hadn't exactly sunk in that The Blackout were in the next country, the next town, the next street, the next room. I had to see them to believe that they weren't a figment of my imagination which I made up while drunk at an All Time Low gig, who then returned while I was spazzing out at a You Me At Six gig. (No, it's not because I'm tipsy every time I see them live that I like them so much - I've made sure of that!)
We met. Shook hands, introduced ourselves and Snoz's shorts (I distinctly remember, "I'm wearing shorts" being randomly added to the first few minutes of conversation). I started to get it. They're here - and fuckyeah, I'm gonna sing with them. While I got this thought into my head, all six offered us drinks like Welsh Mrs. Doyles (with much nicer accents), "would you like a cup of tea?" from all directions. While I got my nerves together, my dad conversed with Snoz about drum kits and cruise ships, as if they'd been mates for life, not acquaintances for five minutes. We talked about how I'm a Twitter addict, so I know quite a lot about them already, like blaming Young Guns, and Sean wanting a job as a ladies' bum photographer. (That and not to take anything he tweets seriously.)
We talked about which bands I like - apparently they like James too! We did a quick chorus of "Sit Down", said they'd play the whole thing if they knew it. Oh yes, and Bright Eyes - I completely recoiled when they said they'd met Conor Oberst. I spoke up, "WHAT'S HE LIKE!?" They said, "he's a cool chap" and not much else. I wanted to know soooo much more, this is Conor Oberst after all, but I didn't ask much. (I doubt that they know the kind of things I ~really want to know. Which are the kind of things that Sean probably wants to know about Taylor Momsen. According to the band, she's his girlfriend, she just doesn't know it yet.)
Got down to singing with them. Sat opposite Sean, mic in front of me. Couldn't hear myself, so I held my swiper to my chest to make sure I sounded alright - I tried to clip it in my bra at first, but to anyone who doesn't know that I have a VNS pacemaker and understands how the vocal stimulation works, which includes The Blackout, it may look like I was trying to strip, so I stopped. On "Children Of The Night" I was a bit nervous and out of time, but I settled down after the second track. We had a bit of a laugh about Josh Franceschi, the feature artist of "I Don't Care", only having three lines and forgetting those, and turning up late every time. (Much as I love Josh and YMAS - imitating Sean slowly introducing Josh about six times was fun, and got a few laughs.) "Josh is sacked! You're hired!" they all joked after the song, but I'm not holding out Hope for it! ;P
"It's High Tide Baby" was the next track I was third vocalist to. The first non-live TBO track I heard and one I know much better. I swung in my chair. Sean seemed to notice the relaxation and approved, smiling. I got up for "Top Of The World" (I was on top of the world; who wouldn't be!) and he somehow really wanted to fix the height of my microphone (and hold my hands while doing so), even though I could do it myself. He came over mid-song to fix it again. I stopped trying to fix my voice, feeling so much more relaxed. I even danced a bit, as I usually do when singing. I probably looked dim, but I didn't care. These guys are the type you wouldn't mind trusting with your life if you knew them a little better, let alone mind looking stupid in front of them.
Inbetween songs, my dad talked to the band, and they seemed very impressed that he'd been in the music business longer than they'd been alive. (Not calling him old or anything. It was his 56th birthday, which I'd hijacked for a more interesting present than a pair of socks and a bottle of Jack. He seemed a bit pissed off that he'd have to give up not only his birthday but his day off work, but didn't seem to mind in the end, quite enjoyed it actually.) They're all lovely - yes, I've said it before, but it's worth saying again. And no, they haven't got me at gunpoint to say only nice things about them, it's the truth.
I let them choose all the songs, I just didn't know what to pick .... it was strange how they didn't seem to know their own back catalogue without checking a laptop! They played them perfectly (even with what probably sounded like a cat yowling in the background - I couldn't hear myself), knowing them by heart, but I should have brought a setlist. We moved on to "Save Our Selves", and according to them, "you killed our chorus". In a good way. (Well, I watch "Take Me Out", I've got plenty of practice singing, "this is a blackout".) Last song before the break, "I'm A Riot? You're A Fucking Riot!"; Sean and I seemed to be having a vocal duel in the verses, "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!" .... I think I won, but you can never be sure. (;
Then we took a break and I accepted that cuppa. I could have kicked myself for not accepting one earlier on! Gavin has been referred to as "the Teamaster", and rightly so! Best black tea with two sugars I've ever had! (He also has a cat, which I learnt earlier on, which makes sense - cat people are tea people. And his last name is Butler, so he's descended from the Teamasters of centuries gone by. Oh yes, I was asked to check this - he does have nice eyes.)
I heard three songs from upcoming third album "Hope" - one played live, two played off record with everyone switching instruments - mine was from mic to sofa, the "really nice seat", and Sean moved opposite me again, to do his silent Snoz impression. The third one, which was my favourite TBO song so far, I'm the first fan to hear, which is pretty awesome. (I already know some of the words too, which Sean was rather impressed with.) That's all you're getting; we did not record the songs and will not share anything else about them. If you want to know (you know you're curious!), buy the album when it's out and/or see them on tour. I'm not fucking Bikkileaks! (And there's no fucking in it.)
Finally, a couple more songs with me to finish the day. "Silent" and "STFUppercut" (and the other suggestion was "Said And Done") - yes, I get the subliminal meaning! I introduced a bit of "I whip my hair back and forth" at the beginning of "STFUppercut", Sean found this hilarious and brought some more hair-whipping in later on. Oh, how we whipped our hair back and forth .... but everything has to come to an end.
They gave me a couple of guitar picks with "The Blackout" on them, one green one blue, and then we got onto the goodbyes. They're lovely huggers y'know, I got a hug each and a group hug, so comfy! I couldn't believe that I was so scared to meet them at first, they do a really good "hard man" act, but actually, they're Mr. Nice Guy through and through - I felt more relaxed in their company than I do in that of people whom I've known for years, and I'm not even sure that they knew my name.
Finally, before we said our goodbyes and left, a couple more group pics (my dad had been taking pics throughout, I'll put them up on my Facebook when I've got them - I look a lot uglier than usual, bear in mind that I had smashed my head in that morning, a post amenorrhoea syndrome spot attack, and whipped hair - oh, alright, I'm just gross) and I ~may have done some accidental leg-feeling. Sorry for the traumatisation.
So, I wonder - will I be lucky enough to meet this band again? I can only Hope!
The Blackout ft. Bikki setlist -
Children Of The Night
I Don't Care (This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things)
It's High Tide Baby
Top Of The World
Save Our Selves
I'm A Riot? You're A Fucking Riot!
STFUppercut/Whip My Hair
Thankyou to The Blackout and Pledge Music for bringing this to me. If you don't plan to already, buy the album. From what I've heard, it's worth it. X