When you grow up making music in Stockport it's hard not to be influenced by those who came before you, especially when some of those people include Oasis, The Arctic Monkeys, and The Libertines. But despite all the comparisons, Blossoms has claimed a sound all their own.
As a self-described "euphoric guitar synth pop" band, Tom Ogden, Josh Dewhurst, Myles Kellock, Charlie Salt, and Joe Donovan are singing the heartbreak blues, which we can all relate to, but in ways we haven't been lucky enough to hear in recent years.
Before they make their way across the pond for a show at Baby's All Right in Brooklyn, New York, we took the time to chat with frontman Ogden to get the scoop on their self-titled debut.
How did Blossoms form?
Tom Ogden: We were all in different bands around Stockport and we were kind of unsatisfied in the bands we were in at the time. Me and the drummer, Joe, we’ve been best mates since year eight at school, so we just got together with the bass player from his band, Charlie, and we got Josh in on the guitar. So we all four got together at first in January and immediately clicked—it felt different from the other bands we had been in before. But because we were still in the other bands we kind of left some time for them to simmer out, you know, as you would with a relationship. You wouldn’t like, jump into bed with someone straight away, would you? So we kind of let them fade out and then by August we were really ready to start pushing it. We wanted a keyboard player so that’s when Miles joined the band and that’s the five piece that we are today. So really August 2013 is when it properly started and we rehearsed five days a week and had a gig every other weekend and that’s when we really started pushing it and recording music.
Why did you guys want to get together and make music?
TO: Well it was never a career choice to say ‘yeah I’m going to have a career in music.’ We literally just jumped into it. It was just something to do and we enjoyed doing it. We all had a laugh together but obviously we took it seriously and we felt like we wanted to be a good band but it wasn’t like we were going to do it to take over the world immediately. But when we got together it was evident that we had something special and it just clicked in a way that it didn’t in the other bands. It felt quite organic and natural, and once you get the taste for it you want to start pushing it and getting more gigs. Things came step by step and quickly we became obsessed with it and wanted to just spend time together making music all the time.
Since you’re in a band with some of your best friends, what are the dynamics like?
TO: Well you’ve got Miles, who is probably the craziest one. He’s quite mad but in the best way possible. He’s a really funny guy and he comes up with the strangest things and sees the world a little bit differently. He’s like a clown, but a loveable clown. Joe the drummer is really organized. He’s the one to say ‘all right, we’re rehearsing everyday.’ He’s got the work ethic. He’s a very driven person, which is what you need. Charlie is the oldest member of the band. He’s 25 and he’s like the dad of the group. He’ll always notice if you’re a bit upset and he’ll always make sure you’re all right. He’s a good lad to be around—he’s funny, and he’s up for a drink as well. Josh is the quietest member of the band, but only really to the outside world. I mean, we’ve been together for three and half years so we see things that other people don’t see. He’s a very funny guy but he keeps to himself. He doesn’t drink, but he’s a great guitarist and a great musician all around.
What were your expectations of being in a band when Blossoms first started and how has that aligned with the reality that you’re experiencing now?
TO: I realize when I meet other people in bands who have been heroes to me growing up like Alex Turner, Ian Brown, and Johnny Marr, that they’re just normal people. It’s kind of a long days, late nights, and early mornings kind of thing—you’ve just got to be prepared to put the work in. I think from the start we’ve had that work ethic. We’ve also got great management and we haven’t been exposed to a lot of bullshit that other people have, so my experience has been pretty cool. I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m just grateful I get to make music and tour the world with my best mates. That’s the beauty of it.
How has Stockport influenced your sound?
TO: Growing up in Stockport and having the great Manchester bands before us is an influence. That definitely plays a part in our sound with bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses, and The Smiths; they’ve all played a big part in songs that I was into growing up. So it bleeds into our songwriting. It’s kind of like an attitude more than the actual sound of the songs. Like, we’re all from a working class background and we’re just making uplifting pop music with our own spin on it.
How did you approach writing this debut album?
TO: It kind of just happened. The first half of the singles that are on the album were recorded two years before the album came out and we weren’t even signed at that point, we just released them as singles to keep us going. They were just songs we felt were great singles and in the end, we wanted to make an album full of singles. So when we knew that we were recording an album and we had to do a few more tracks, like six more songs, we didn’t approach it that differently. I still wrote the same and had the same process, but we just didn’t have as much time to rehearse, so we built some of the newer songs in the studio while all of us were in there as opposed to being in a rehearsal room. I think it helped the album to sound fresh and we got to places that we might never have gotten to if I had just been in a rehearsal room.
So even though some of the singles on the album were written and recorded a few years prior, would you say there’s a central theme or cohesiveness to the album?
TO: Yeah a lot of the songwriting stems from past relationships and all of it’s quite heartbreak and breakup based but I never said ‘oh I’m going to do that purposely,’ it was just what was happening in our lives at the time. I can express myself in songs through that specific topic. A lot of great pop songs throughout the years have done it as well. It’s always a common theme and everyone can relate to it.
Going off of that, do you think that you have to be in love to write a love song or heartbroken to write a breakup song?
TO: I think it’s easier if you’re definitely feeling like that in that specific moment because it’s an inner feeling that channels out of you. But I’ve written songs about that when I’ve not necessarily been exactly feeling like that, so you can always channel an emotion you’ve once felt I suppose. If you’ve got a great melody... I think the melody is the most important thing, so if you’ve got a great melody the words can come afterward. If you’re feeling like that and you can channel your emotions, that’s when you’ve got a winner—when the melody and the words fit together perfectly. But if you’re not necessarily feeling heartbroken at that point you can channel when you were feeling like that. That’s the fun in songwriting: There’s no rules to it.
Your latest single is "Charlemagne." Can you tell me the story behind that song?
TO: I remember writing the riff to that song on a Casio keyboard at home and immediately I felt like it was a really catchy hook. I wanted to make the chorus that melody of the riff to keep that uber catchiness. A of lot songs in the '80s and a lot of songs still do it now—have a kind of really great pop mood, which I hadn’t done before until that point. Originally the song was called “Made of Lead.” I live in a house with my brother and he studies history and heard me writing the song and there was a line that said ‘my kingdom reigned’ and he asked if I had ever heard of Charlemagne. I loved the name, so I used Charlemagne, because he’s a king, and I used it as a metaphor for someone you would worship as you would a king.
You’re 23 and you have a number one album on the U.K. charts. What does that feel like?
TO: It’s quite mad isn’t it, when you put into words like that. When someone says it back to you that’s when it seems quite strange. Like me, when I'm waking up in the morning and having my breakfast that’s not running through my head. It’s not something I think about because I'm so busy doing other stuff and I’m always focused on writing. I’m very proud of it and very proud of what we’ve achieved. When you take a step back and you say it to me that’s when it seems most strange. It’s not constantly running through my head and giving me a spring in my step, but we are very proud of it and we felt like we’ve made a timeless record so it’s very cool that the fans got it to number one.
You’ve also played Glastonbury, Reading, and Leeds. Growing up in the U.K. and then playing these big festivals, what did that feel like?
TO: There are moments where you step back and you look at each other on the stage and you kind of speak to each other without even opening your mouths—you just give each other a look and you know this is kind of crazy. I mean, when there’s 30,000 people at Glastonbury and you know how prestigious it is, that's a very proud moment. Those are kind of nice moments where we can take a step back and go ‘we’re doing something really cool here' and we want to remember it.
You’re about to embark on your first North American tour. What are you most looking forward to?
TO: We’re really, really excited. It’s a big milestone for the band. It’s going to be amazing. We can’t wait to go to some of these places. I never thought I’d get to go to some of these places, let alone go with my best mates and play music. In a way, because we’re playing big venues in the U.K., it will be nice to go back over to America. It’s kind of like starting again, isn’t it? We’re just really excited to see what people make of the music. I think they’ll really dig it. It’s just really exciting. It feels like Christmas Eve.
Have you started thinking about your sophomore album?
TO: I’m always writing. I’m at home today actually and I wrote something before you called. Any chance I get I try and write songs. I’ve just got a collection of songs so when we go in to do the second album we'll already have a load of songs and we’ll just pick the best ones.
What was the song you wrote today about?
TO: It was channeling into the end of a relationship, which I’ve been trying to make a bit funny as well as about the end of something. It’s when two people realize it’s the end and that’s it and you can’t understand each other anymore. There’s a line in there that says ‘you’re like sand in a sandwich sometimes,” which I think is quite a funny way to describe someone.
For now, what do you want people to take away from listening to this album?
TO: I just want it to soundtrack people’s lives. I want it to help them forget about all the bullshit in their life, to just put that record on and have it take them somewhere else. That’s what music should do. It should remind you of stuff. It can make you sad at points, it can make you feel better... music can do anything to you. I just want it to mean something to people on a different level and I want people to love it like I do with my favorite bands. And I think people do with the way they come to the shows and sing the words back and I can just tell we’re connecting to people like some bands don’t. It’s a nice thing.