BLONDES – Lucky 7
LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own…
Covid is a twat. Every single death a tragedy. Lives have been forever changed. Businesses closed, never to reopen. Friendships fractured that may never repair. But can anything have been kicked harder in the balls than live entertainment? Music, comedy, theatre, panto, all victims of that bastard pandemic. Gigs will rise again, I’m sure. Just like anyone who’s absorbed a football in the nuts, it’ll stumble. It’ll need a moment to catch its breath but the pain will clear and the thrill of seeing live music will return.
The Rock City, Bodega, Arena, Rescue Rooms, Rough Trade and a ton of small independents. Nottingham is a place where legends play live and careers are made. We also have hope on the horizon, with Nottingham based band BLONDES.
BLONDES have what it takes to make it: Great songs and inherent self-belief. Meeting at Nottingham Uni (the posh one), the band have built a following in their adopted home. 2020 opened with a string of shows, filling small venues throughout the city but BLONDES, like everyone else, found themselves locked indoors during a pandemic that had all but shut down the music industry. I told you Covid was a twat. Unable to play live or set foot in a recording studio, it became a time to reflect and to write new music.
Fast forward to October 2020 and BLONDES became a viral sensation on TikTok with their song ‘Coming of Age’. Thousands of videos featuring the song suddenly appeared across the platform, racking up millions of views. An official ‘Coming of Age’ trend was launched on TikTok, resulting in more than a million streams of the song and over 200K monthly listeners on Spotify. Despite the odds, the music industry began to take notice.
Finally there’s light at the end of tunnel. BLONDES have been back in the studio recording their debut EP to be released spring 2021 and live dates will be announced soon. I can’t wait to get out there and when I do, BLONDES will be top of my gig list.
Over to the band with their Luck 7…
1. A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – Can I Kick It?
Alex: It’s the song we’ve walked out to at every single gig we’ve done. We’ve got so many memories of being backstage at a show, hearing the first note of the song play and our friends all going nuts because they knew we were coming on.
For us, and for me personally, it’s associated with so many great times. It’s one of our favourite samples and from such an amazing group. A Tribe Called Quest were true pioneers of alternative hip-hop, with their jazzy vibe, creative sampling and lyrics imbued with more positivity and light heartedness than some of their more hard-edged contemporaries. You can see the way their influence has lasted into the modern genre.
I remember hearing the song in a shop in central London, and I knew straight away that I’d heard what would become one of my favourite songs. My interpretation has always been that the song is just about having fun and being yourself. It’s such a positive anthem; the call and response of the refrain is so uplifting. Can I kick it? Damn right you can.
2. ARCTIC MONKEYS – When the Sun Goes Down
Will: It’s one of my favourites from ‘Whatever People Say I Am’ and one of my top Arctic Monkeys songs full stop. I remember covering this for the first time, almost as a joke, at a school concert when I was around 17. I always felt like I wanted to do a proper cover of it someday. Then one day at a Blondes practice, somebody just started playing that lead guitar riff and we all instinctively launched into the song without even saying anything to each other. We knew straight away that we wanted to cover it at our next show.
The show came around, we’d finished our main set and half the lads had walked off stage into the crowd. When people started calling for an encore, the boys who’d walked off opened up a big space in the middle of the crowd, just as I sang the iconic opening line. Everyone knew straight away what was happening and they all stood arm in arm, belting out the opening verse. As we got to the end, “He’s a scumbag don’t you know” rang out followed by a short moment of quiet, electric anticipation. The boys joined us back on stage, we launched into it and the crowd went absolutely mental. One of the best moments at a Blondes show without a doubt.
3. NEW ORDER – Age of Consent
Tom: I remember hearing it for the first time in the car with my Dad, on the way to watch a Sunderland game. We lost, actually. The song is sonically really interesting; the main guitar riff is actually played on the high frets of a bass guitar by Peter Hook. That style of playing has always been a big influence on me personally and I think you can hear in our music how much New Order’s legacy has inspired Blondes. Other people have also drawn comparisons with our song ‘Coming of Age’, which is a huge compliment! It’s also a massive anthem in our house; When we first went viral on TikTok, I remember us blaring the song at full volume in our kitchen and dancing so energetically that it probably would’ve scared anyone who’d seen it. Now every time we’re a couple of beers down, the dining table gets shoved to the side of the room, the air bass comes out, and we dance like maniacs.
4. THE CURE – In Between Days
Stroudy: I first heard this song in a pub with my Dad, I remember he told me it was The Cure and that he thought I’d like them. It was the first song I ever recorded a half-decent demo of, when I was around 16 or 17. In the summer of 2019 we all went to Glastonbury and The Cure were headlining; they closed out the festival on the last night. They played ‘In Between Days’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ one after another, and my head completely fell off. I was there with Alex, Will and a few other friends and it was one of the best nights of my life, hands down. I remember leaving The Cure to go and see various DJ sets and ending the night in a tent playing all kinds of global funk and jazz fusion, the kind of thing you’d hear in the toilets at Nando’s. Unforgettable night.
6. THE BEATLES – Don’t Let Me Down
Alex: Stroudy and I used to get into these mock arguments where I’d intentionally wind him up, knowing he was a die-hard Beatles fan, by saying “I just really don’t get The Beatles, you know? Like they’re good. But I just don’t get the hype.” Truthfully, I had just never been raised on their music like so many others and so didn’t really understand what made them so special. Eventually, Stroud sat me down and made me watch their documentary ‘Eight Days A Week’. It blew my mind not only that these four young men became international superstars in such completely unprecedented fashion but that they toured relentlessly for so long, only to finally quit and never play another show again.
The documentary ends with a video of them performing ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ and a couple of others unassumingly on a roof, and it was beautiful. Four men who had changed society and culture forever, who hadn’t appeared live for years, stood sharing their passion together for one of the last times. It was while watching that performance, having learned their history, that I finally understood The Beatles.
6. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – Dance Yrself Clean
Mark: I first heard this song at my brother’s wedding. It was the song that he and his wife walked back down the aisle to. It was a day which really meant a lot to me. It was a new chapter in our relationship, we were getting drunk together and it was the first time I’d really celebrated something with them as an adult. The song became even more meaningful to me a couple of years ago, when the band all came back to our university houses in the summer between first and second years. It was around that time that we really became friends rather than just bandmates.
We would all hang out in Alex’s house and share music with each other, watching live sets and stuff like that. I put ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ on and it just really stuck with everyone, we all went nuts when the drop-kicked in. It’s amazing for me because I’ve got these two great memories associated with it: One where I became closer to my family and one where we as a band all started to become close friends. Also, it’s a fucking massive song. And it goes off twice.
LUCKY 7: BLONDES – Coming of Age
Alex: The track means a lot to us for sure, and to me personally too. I first wrote the guitar riff nearly five years ago and I held onto it because I knew there was something special about it. I’d been trying for years to finish it but didn’t feel confident in anything I was writing. Fast forward to summer 2019, we’ve got tickets to Glastonbury and we’re standing in a field listening to one of the acts tell the crowd to “Go start a band, go be creative, don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks.” It was oddly liberating, and they were right; It was about doing what we loved doing without worrying if it was any good or not. So we went home and we finished the song. The lyrics became a story about that moment. Us in a field, sat on each other’s shoulders, thinking, “yeah, we could do this. This could be us. Why the hell not?”.