Interviews

WLRFM - Roddy Cleere

"In Ireland it's a case of 'Blink have been playing for years but they are not getting anywhere'..in America its more like Blink have paid their dues, lets go hear them. I mean if Blink sold 70,000 copies of a CD in Ireland we would be on the Late Late Show for God's sake!"

2000 will be a special year for Dublin band BLINK. Two years after it's release in the USA, 'The End Is High' will finally get its Irish release in February. The single 'Would You Kill For Love?' has already preceded it.

When Blink release 'The Map of the Universe' five years ago it received critical acclaim. Were the lads happy with the way the album turned out?

Dermot and Robbie tackled the questions'.

Dermot: "Yes we were. We have a situation going on whereby if you are not happy with what you do, you only have yourself to blame. It comes from years ago when we used to read that sonic of our peers would release albums and the second the album came out they would be complaining about the production or they didn't like a particular track or the record company made them do this or that. We had the freedom to do the thing the way we wanted to do it. We had our arguments with our label over certain tracks being included but we pretty much got our own way. We had the certain 'safe' songs but also some other songs that might not always find their way onto big budget albums. To this day I stand over that album and we are very proud of it."

Is Blink obliged to put the obvious single material onto albums?

Robbie: "They (the record company) wanted choruses on everything! There is a track on that album called 'Everything Comes, Everything Goes' and they did not want that on the album which was a complete live favourite but they insisted that it was not going on. So we traded with them and dropped some songs that we did not want anyway."

Has the band changed much since those days?

Dermot: "Quite a bit. it's much more of a case of getting the songs into the rehearsal room now whereas before we would not have rehearsed them very well. By the time we got around to recording 'The End is High we had spent a lot of time in America and that opened our eyes a lot to rock music and the rock attitude in particular. At the moment Blink are regarded As a cool band in many parts of America. Our CD 'The End is High has sold well over 70,000 copies which is very respectable but we are not worried about bothering the charts for the next few years. We had to decide if we wanted to travel around America with a crew of 7 or eight or do it on our own and then be able to stay on the road for 12 weeks and stretch our budget out a bit more, so we decided to go for the second option.

Robbie: "What would happen was, we would show up and a gig, plug in, play, finish up then travel on to the next gig and do it all over again. All this made the band very tight and then we come home and look at how things are done here and think 'Hey We don't want to get back into all this do we?' The whole live thing is much more respected in America. In Ireland it's a case of 'Blink have been playing for years but they are not getting anywhere'.
In America its more like Blink have paid their dues, lets go hear them'. I mean if Blink sold 70,000 copies of a CD in Ireland we would be on the Late Late Show for God's sake! If you can't cut it live in America you might as well give up, no matter what colour your hair is (laughs) They don't care what you look like over there. They are not image driven"

Was it always the band intention to head for America?

Dermot: "No. The intentions were very scattered and parochial at the start. We reallyonly got together because we had nothing else to do. We didn't want to sound like every other band that was around at the time. There was a lot of jangly pop and what we wanted to do was to take the dance music of the time and do something with it. We were not thinking about England and most certainly we were not thinking about America. We didn't want record deals because we had gone through all of that with the bands we were involved with beforehand but before we knew it came to us! We had sent a song away to someone in America for some competition or other and next thing we knew it was being reviewed in the English magazine "Music Week". There was 17 Irish bands and ours was the one that was picked. We didn't know what to call the band and that's where we got the name for the band as we needed a name in a hurry. Next the phones were hopping. We had to get a live set together for a showcase for record companies."

Blink have spent at most two years in the States and their, almost, entire infrastructure is based there. This was mainly due to the fact that the band did not want to be based in England and be sucked in to the English Brit Pop scene as many bands do when they get there. Blink were determined that this would not happen to them and that is partly the reason for their move to America - a move that appears to have worked for them.

The album The End is High' has been on release in America for two years and next month Irish fans of the band will get their opportunity to hear it for themselves when it gets its Irish release. The band are eager to find success in Ireland but for now they will continue to play America and forge out a name for themselves. It should not be long before they arrive home in triumph."

by Roddy Cleere (WLRFM)

 

Sound Info - September 1994

Ireland's most promising new band, Blink have already released four singles, and their debut album "A Map Of The Universe By Blink" is in the stores now. But what of the events that led to all of the above? Well here we have a 'tale of the consequences' told by Dermot to Paula Hambly.

Blink formed in Dublin in 1991, "August '91, three years ago we should be celebrating" says Dermot Lambert, Blink's singer guitarist. But why name yourselves after the Cocteau Twins' song "Ice Blink Luck", It's because Barry Campbell the drummer is a big fan and the rest of us at the time couldn't care what we called the band. It's the old story.. there's four blokes sitting around trying to think of a band name and it's the most horrendous thing that there is, impossible! Writing songs isn't that bad, it's very difficult but not that difficult."

Unusual for a drummer to be so involved? "Our Barry he's special you see. Actually we just didn't care, there was a song going onto a compilation CD for the American New Music Seminar, they had approved that we could get a song on and we had given them some names for our band and they gave us two days to change it if we were going to. We had to about seven o'clock on the Friday evening and at about four pm on that Friday Barry said what about Blink? and we were like 'Wow, that's great yeah!'. The next day you mention to people the new name and they laugh and say it's like a cabaret band, we got to hate the name very quickly but then we got to like it again because people started to write nice things about us.

Everything tends to happen at short notice for Blink..

"We sent this CD off and it got a fantastic review in Music Week, one paragraph review and then record companies began to ring us, it was just like a fever, ridiculous, and we hadn't even done a single gig. Now various band members had played live in previous outfits but as Blink we just had never been on stage and we didn't know if we could play the stuff live. So we stalled and stalled the record companies for about six months, which was very, very unusual for a band in this country to do. But it only made them more and more eager - which hadn't been our intention. We had no repertoire or anything, so we went off and wrote a few more songs and then we started playing live and at one of the gigs there was like 18 A&R men over from the UK to see us and it was just ridiculous. Warner's were talking about a quarter of a million pound advance, we were just freaking, on one hand we were thinking 'this is fantastic' and on the other hand we were thinking 'hold on we've only got nine songs and they're going to be wanting an album fairly soon'. So after that we went to EMI instead, it was a very small advance and a small development deal, so we went off and just did things our own way then, just got our act together and went and supported the Power Of Dreams first of all in the UK on a couple of dates."

And what of the acclaimed support slot on the Carter tour?

We went to the College Musical Journal event in America the following year and that's where we met Carter. We went to America to impress some Americans and ended up making friends with Jim Bob and Fruit Bat and getting their UK tour with them! It was the time of the "Love" album, it was in October '92 and they had just spent six weeks in America and they hated it, they were knocking around with Jeannie from their publicity company, Bad Moon, and she had known of us and seen us a few times. She brought them to see us but they arrived too late because we went on first, but we got talking to them and basically scabbed a few gigs off them!"

The debut album seemed to take a long time to appear?

"We spent a lot of time just developing, after getting a deal so early we said to the record company 'now hold on, relax, we want to do this properly, when we release an album we want it to be a good album'. We didn't get into a big arty-farty thing of like we're going to take two years to record an album. We just kept on having lucky breaks which interfered with the album plans. It should have been out like this time last year, but the Carter tour was a lucky break, meeting Steve Hillage and wanting to work with him because he wanted to work with us - we were prepared to wait a few months to do that. Then getting the Crowded House support tour and the final thing was the World Cup there was no way we were going to release an album in June!"

I must admit I have a fetish for Irish bands because of their intensely different lyrics and their ability to come up with a new concept on even the most tired subject matters. Take Blink's latest single "Happy Day" ("I'd like to freeze that moment in time and wrap it up in tinfoil/ with little ribbons and tinsel and say that was a happy day") and contrast that with their previous single "It's Not My Fault" their the rantings and ravings of pure emotion mix with furious guitars ("Don't hate me 'cause I hate myself/ I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love") that's what it's all about, the Irish have masses of raw energy and emotion.

"Lyrics wise it's like a challenge because we leave quite a lot of the stuff musically empty so that you can actually hear them, we don't have crashing guitars all the way through the stuff, there's very rarely a point where you can't hear what's being sung. So therefore I have to make sure whatever it is that I write is something I can like stand over in like ten years time and not be embarrassed about, because I have written some embarrassing lyrics in the past, it's like a little line will just pop out to haunt you for the rest of your life. I'm careful about just making sure that everything makes sense and says something, we write the music between us and I generally do all the lyrics. With them I try to describe a series of events in a sort of way, it's like a puzzle for people to actually figure out".

"In "It's Not My Fault" there's a whole section in the middle about Sheriff Brady and the four foot lady, on the face of it, it means absolutely nothing but what it actually is about is people giving up their dreams and aspirations to settle down and be in love. Basically it just poses the question, it doesn't answer it, just says is this a good thing or a bad thing? would you do it if it came to it?"

"It's just little things in people's lives that I love to point out and say "look at that, what about that?" it's just curiosity. Then at other times it's like another track on the album "Love Me" which is about child abuse but again on the face of it it doesn't look like it, the song comes across as just a lonely person's song but in fact it's a bit twisted under it. Each song on the album is like in a different humour and a different feeling."

Is this your first headlining tour of the UK?

"Not really, the first was in February this year, it was a college tour and the NUS organised the dates with ourselves and Orange and we finished at the Borderline which was great and we did the Camden Underworld the night before, both nights were fantastic. We got a really good crowd into each one and we were shocked that we could do that in London!"

"We're curious now because the Crowded House tour went so well, when you are doing things like this you have absolutely no idea what to expect, you try to gauge it on record sales, "Happy Days" sold 10,000 copies in the UK so you try to gauge it on that but then you think people that buy records don't necessarily go out to gigs, and then people that bought that particular record might not buy your next one. You've no way of telling at all!"

What are Blink like as a live band? What are we to expect?

"It can be quite manic, it depends a lot on the audience. If they're not into it, sometimes you get a better show because then we tend to just play to ourselves, sort of heads down shoe-gazing, which is very unlike us. But if the audience is into it, the place will just be like a hectic sweat box after three or four numbers. We did a couple of festivals over here in Ireland, there was one in Dublin and there were 7,000 people at it and we were the headline band. We came on, three times the police had to ask us to get the crowd to move back because the crash barriers were breaking, riotous!! We loved it, we do encourage it though we shouldn't! Be warned! And be there when Blink appear at The Joiners on Wednesday 21st September it sounds like anything could happen!!