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RGM Introducing – Blake

Hi mate take a seat. What made you decide to start as an artist?

I’ve been a massive Beatles fan from an early age after discovering that my dad, who was a journalist, interviewed John Lennon in 1969. When I was a kid I didn’t want to be an astronaut, I wanted to be in The Beatles! I joined my first band at school-aged fifteen; a garage band playing mainly Joy Division covers. I knew then that it was the only thing I wanted to do. Luckily enough, my psych-rock group, Karma Truffle, were signed to London indie label Ecto Music in the mid-noughties. Since we split, I’ve continued to record and perform as a solo artist.

What is the unsigned scene in Melksham like at the minute?

Melksham is a small town in Wiltshire and there isn’t much of a local scene because there aren’t many places to play. I perform regularly in a pub that puts on weekly live music near me, but I have to travel to Bath, Bristol or Swindon for dedicated live music venues. Of course, with the current disruption, who knows how many smaller venues are going to be able to survive. It’s going to take a long time before the live music industry is back on its feet, I fear.

What good bands are coming out of Melksham at the minute?

I am friends with a great band called Port Erin who live nearby. Check them out here: https://www.facebook.com/porterinmusic/

What support is out there for new artists in Melksham?

We are very lucky to have a fantastic recording studio and acclaimed music producer based in our town – Dominic Bailey-Clay at Nine Volt Leap Studios: http://www.ninevoltleap.co.uk I recorded my 2018 album ‘RIDE’ at the studio with Dom.

Who is inspiring you at the min?

I listen to Hamell On Trial, the New York anti-folk/punk poet, probably more than any other contemporary artist. His lyrics are incredible and the sound he manages to get from his battered Gibson acoustic is unbelievable. 

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

Headlining as Blake at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. A dream come true.

What was the worst experience on stage?

The “Curtain of Shame” incident. I was performing a cover of “Hey Bulldog” by The Beatles with my band but I only remembered halfway through the song that I was supposed to play the guitar solo. I hadn’t rehearsed it so I attempted to fudge something together. It was terrible. I panicked and tried to hide behind the stage curtain to save my embarrassment, only to discover that the curtain was a fake one and there was a brick wall behind it. My band just cracked up and have never let me forget it.

Four piece band made up of legends – who would be in it? (drummer, bass, lead singer etc)

Steve Marriott on vocals, Peter Green on lead guitar, The Ox on bass and Bonham on drums.

If you could play any music festival which would it be?

Glastonbury – I live in the West Country, after all.

Who would you like to duet with?

Linda Thompson. And then I’d ask her if she could arrange for me to meet her ex-husband, Richard.

What goes into your favourite sandwich?

Peanut butter and jam – very Elvis!

What makes you stand out as an artist?

For better or worse, I write and record music in a wide variety of styles. I like a lot of different types of music, so it seems logical to me. The accepted wisdom for artists to get themselves heard above all the internet ‘noise’ is to become as genre specific as possible, but I’ve always stubbornly stuck to The Beatles’ example and drawn on a broad range of influences. If a song is good, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s folk, punk, pop, rock or reggae, as far as I’m concerned.

Its strange times at the min with the virus almost stopping the whole live music scene in UK and abroad, how do you plan to stay productive while we get through this?

Strange days, indeed! Well, I wrote and recorded my new album ‘1971’ during the lockdown so I’ve been focussing on that. I also played a series of live-streamed acoustic shows from home which were good fun and the next best thing to being out there gigging. I’m a fairly prolific songwriter so I will carry on writing and I’ll hopefully have a batch of new songs ready to record by the end of the year.

Tell us about your new album?

It’s called ‘1971’ because that’s the year I was born and when so many of my favourite LPs were released: HMS Donovan, Aqualung, Who’s Next, Blue, Ram, Dog of Two Head, Led Zep IV and many more. I read David Hepworth’s book ‘1971: Never a Dull Moment – Rock’s Golden Year’ a couple of years ago and his argument that 1971 was the most creative year for popular music is very persuasive. I tried to incorporate a lot of these influences into the songs I wrote, so it deliberately has a retro vibe.

The first track on the album is a cover of Alan Parker’s “The Free Life”, the theme to the ITV schools series ‘My World’ – a haunting analogue synth tune that reminds me of school in the seventies. Its title and the nostalgia it provokes seem appropriate to these strange times we’re in.

“Peter Green” is, unsurprisingly, about the founder of Fleetwood Mac and not the haulage firm. I love the original incarnation of the band and I have covered Danny Kirwan’s “Dragonfly” and “Dust” in the past. I was inspired to write the song after seeing the tribute concert to Peter at the Royal Albert Hall organised by Mick Fleetwood earlier this year.

“Over and Over Again” came out like a lost Status Quo song from their ‘Frantic Four’ period and has a political edge. I recorded the demo as a Marvin Gaye inspired RnB track, however!

I wrote “Reputation” in April about the madman across the water but it has become even more relevant over the past couple of weeks with George Floyd’s tragic murder and Trump’s divisive rhetoric. Let’s hope, as Sam Cooke sang, a change is gonna come.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Thanks for supporting under the radar artists. Online publications like Reyt Good Magazine are vital to keep the music industry going. Let’s continue to support smaller venues when they re-open. Cheers!

You are more than welcome mate, keep in touch 🙂