Being off your face on MD, touring with a Libertine, and having bricks chucked at you by your pissed off neighbour: Exclusive Interview with BlackWaters
So it’s rare that a band truly blows me away; like I’ll see bands who I love and think are immensely talented, but every so often that one band comes along who hit you in a completely different way. One of my favourite finds would have to be BlackWaters, a four piece band from Guildford who have been building up quite the reputation for themselves this year. They’re a fresh burst of vibrant raucous post punk, with very FIDLAR/ Libertines/ early Arctic Monkeys vibes. I’ve seen the band a few times live now, and will be catching them again this year supporting Marmozets this month, at Wilkestock festival, and on the This Feeling Alive tour in October. Just this year alone they’ve released a host of new singles and videos, as well as playing on tours with Strange Bones and Carl Barât & The Jackals, as well as many summer festivals including Download, Truck, Camden Rocks, TRNSMT, Isle of Wight, Y Not and Kendal Calling (killing it right?). A couple of months back the band played a killer set at The Social in London, playing alongside White Room and Naked Six, and I got to catch up with BlackWaters before the gig. For those who don’t yet know the band, the four piece are made up of Max on vocals, David on lead guitar, Ollie on bass, and James on drums.
So the first thing we spoke about was how sick 2017 has been so far for the band; ‘Download was the most people we’d played to- about 500 people’ James tells me, the rest of the band agreeing Download was a particular highlight. They also mention the Strange Bones co-headline tour they did earlier on in the year, David telling me ‘they’re a great bunch of lads.’ The year’s been ‘very busy’ Max agrees; ‘touring with Strange Bones was fun, our first proper proper tour.’ Camden Rocks was a lot of fun too, with Ollie breaking a string and the band pulling out a ‘surprise song, a drunken rendition’ midway through. Isle of Wight was ‘wicked too’ I’m told, the band agreeing on Yonaka and Strange Bones as being ‘really really good.’ They also joke about how good it was having ‘bottles of Jack Daniel’s for free!’ So the band met at music college in Guildford, with Max coming from Essex, James from London, and David and Ollie from Northampton. I asked the band about the local music scene around Guildford, all of them immediately noting The Boileroom as a ‘decent venue.’ ‘There’s lots of bands no one knows about though’ David tells me, ‘as nothing in Guildford really supports the scene, like there’s no bloggers or interviewers supporting it there.’ BlackWaters recently played a huge headline gig at the Boileroom, and it’s safe to say the hometown gig looked immense. Live is where they are at their best in my opinion, and an opportunity to see them is in October as part of the This Feeling alive tour, playing alongside The Shimmer Band, The Blinders and Bang Bang Romeo. ‘We’re playing big as fuck venues’ James tells me, also mentioning he’s listened to The Blinders, specifying his favourite genre of music as ‘punk rock’n’roll.’
I asked the band about their latest single too, a double A-side of Let The Good Times Roll and Love Is A Future Computer (Try Another Way). The light acoustic tone of Love Is A Future Computer is an interesting contrast to the normal punk raucousness their music has; ‘it’s to show diversity’ they tell me, and ‘to prove Max can actually sing’ James laughs. As mentioned earlier, BlackWaters have a fuck load of stuff coming up for them. They’ve all finished uni now (having studied ‘music stuff that’s kinda irrelevant’ James told me), and will be moving up north to Sheffield soon. ‘We’ve played up there a few times’ Max tells me, and ‘it’s northern so it’s cheap’ David adds. Sheffield is musically vibrant and full of sick venues (David telling me how it’s ‘full of lots of inspiration up there’), which leads me to ask the band about their favourite venues to play. Max mentioned Thekla in Bristol and for David it’s King Tuts (‘or our living room’). Coming back to the local scene though, ‘we’ve played Boileroom since we started’ Max tells me. The band also love the crazy raucousness of house party gigs, telling me they ‘wanna do more of them,’ David insisting it’s ‘best to do them when you’re more well known.’ In terms of how the band would describe their sound and influences, I’m told Reverend and The Makers ‘really helped us find our sound,’ but BlackWaters ‘took the indie out.’ In terms of favourite new bands, ‘Shame, Shame are really good…The Moonlandingz too I fucking love them’ Max tells me. For James he mentions IDLES immediately, which David agrees with. ‘Yonaka too’ I’m told- ‘they’re wicked.’ I ask the band about their favourite albums, and they come up with a sick selection; for James it’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not from Arctic Monkeys (the best album ever, end of), and for Max it’s Transformer by Lou Reed. Ollie picks out Nevermind by Nirvana, and for David he notes Performance and Cocktails by Stereophonics. The whole band agree on Arctic Monkeys as a key influence, Max even wearing a Monkeys shirt. ‘We collectively love Arctic Moneys’ James tells me; ‘what they’re playing is really cool, every album is fucking sick, every album I really love.’ ‘Yeah I love them’ Max agrees, explaining how he used to be into more ‘generic pop then got into Arctic Monkeys.’
That gig at The Social was maybe one of the best times I’ve seen the band live. I’ve seen them four times now and they never fail to amaze me. The Social gig was where they did their live debut of new track People Street. I’m told the band have been ‘playing the same setlist for about a year now,’ and are starting to change it up a little bit. For James and David, they love to play So Far Out, with David mentioning Let The Good Times Roll as another favourite track to do live. Asking if the crowds have started to get better, ‘oh absolutely’ David tells me. ‘Nottingham always have wild crowds’ the band agree, with James picking out Download as having the ‘best crowd.’ The freshers show at Bar 13 was ‘my favourite gig I’ve ever done’ David exclaims, before telling me about the house party the band had after with ‘only five people left at the end’; ‘everyone was hanging out at the end of the road it was like “piss off!”’ he laughs. Max and David then go on to tell me how ‘our neighbours tried to kill us for playing music at 4am,’ laughing as they describe the struggle of ‘someone throwing bricks at you when you’re coming down from MD.’ It’s live actually how the band got in with Libertine Carl Barât, whose band The Jackals were supported by BlackWaters late spring of this year. ‘We supported his sister’s band and he turned up early’ they explain. The two played together at the legendary Pirate Studios too, with BlackWaters joining Carl during his set to play a few Libertines tracks with him. That night was brilliant I’m told; ‘there was a free bar that night’ Ollie grins, James intervening ‘everyone was just wankered.’ Back to live dates and plans for the next few months, they all agree that they want to record more and hopefully get an EP done at some point. Live, the band are mad busy though. An interesting festival to see them at actually will be Wilkestock next month; typically a family festival (despite bands like The Wholls and Yak playing this year), the band have been warned on playing tracks like Fuck Yeah (gutting). Their set was absolutely insane at The Social, with favourites of mine Down, So Far Out and (new favourite) People Street gracing the setlist. Other tracks like Help Me are fucking amazing live too. The band were also recently in session with John Kennedy for Radio X– forward to 28:58 (and thank me later x)
BlackWaters are one of those bands I could go on and on about for hours… like they’re unreal. It’s proper gritty raw post punk music, with a more indie rock grungy feel. The energy and raucous grit they have live is immense, and no wonder they’ll be playing alongside bands like Marmozets and The Blinders in the next few months. Definitely a band to keep both eyes on.