Photo Credit: Sam Crowston
This time next week The Blinders would have played a few shows, had a handful more to go, and had a new album out. Like many, plans had to change and rearrange as the world adopted a new normal for the time being. So while the world awaits the arrival of ‘Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath’ (titled long before the current events of 2020) in July, you can get to know more about the music, creating while remaining safe at home, and The Blinders’ plans for the future as told by their own Charlie McCough.
Kendra: First off, how are you guys doing right now? I know everyone got their world turned upside down by recent events. Are you guys staying safe at home together, or are you utilizing things like Zoom and Facetime to keep in touch?
Charlie McCough: We’re all good and keeping well. Each of us is living separately, so, as with most people, we’re just using the likes of Zoom to keep in contact. None of us have shaved their hair off yet but I think it may be coming.
Kendra: May 2020 was supposed to entail a new album and tour, but you announced at the end of March that ‘Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath’ would now be out July 17th. On one hand, we’re all stuck at home consuming more than ever, but I get you probably didn’t want it to come and go without its rightfully deserved attention. So what pushed you to push the record’s release to then?
Charlie McCough: Firstly, we are so incredibly proud of this record and we just can’t wait for people to hear it. Unfortunately, the delay mainly came down to logistical issues with vinyl plants running at limited capacity and all of that. Hopefully, by the time it is now released, we will be able to do some things that will allow us to properly celebrate it but if that’s not the case then we will simply have to make the most of it.
Kendra: Also, you’ve noted how the title of the record is uncanny looking back. Do you feel the songs, the themes of the record would have remained similar to what’s on the record now if you guys would have been working on it during all that is currently going on now?
Charlie McCough: It is quite unnerving how appropriate the album seems even to the point that I heard Lauren Laverne say that the word quarantine comes from the Bible story referenced in the track “Forty Days and Forty Nights.” It must be true.
I’ve seen a lot of sarcastic comments regarding people writing isolation albums but I’m not sure why that’s something to turn your nose up at. I think people may produce some really beautiful pieces of art from all of this whether they directly reference the themes of the day or provide an antidote to it.
I think the latter is probably going to be more likely and perhaps more likely for us. At the moment for me, I’m seeking art more and more for its escapist qualities and therefore perhaps the art that I’m creating will take on some of those same qualities. I think at times like these, art maybe doesn’t have to reflect what’s going on but can be an antidote to it so perhaps we’ll end up producing something completely alternate to ‘Fantasies.’
We’re always writing and trying to be creative. I think we’ve all been taking the time to engage with things we’ve possibly not had the time to do before whether that be getting the paintbrushes out or doing some more long-form writing. I think we’re very fortunate that to do the thing we love, we only require a pen and a pad or a guitar. If you’re trying to look at the positives, which it seems important to do, it’s provided us the time to engage again with the creative process.
Kendra: One song that works then, now and will work years from now is “Forty Days and Forty Nights.” So many can relate to the idea of recognizing the toxicity in their relationship, but also not realizing they need to leave. Was this a real-life situation or one drawn from imagination that inspired this song?
Charlie McCough: I think you really hit the nail on the head there in terms of the story of the song and I think most people will be able to relate. One of the points of the song though is also how that one toxic relationship can lead you to doubt all other relationships in your life as you lose trust and feel very vulnerable. As with a lot of the songs on the album, it’s partially drawn from personal experience but is then exaggerated to a point where it’s not recognizable anymore.
Kendra: On top of the album being pushed to July 17th, you also rescheduled your dates for September. You’re not alone in this, so many artists are in the same boat. Thinking ahead, I think artists and fans alike are going to be so emotionally overwhelmed when they can get back to normal and head out to live music again. Do you think you’ll feel more emotional when you get to play your first show back after all this than perhaps the first time you all ever played together?
Charlie McCough: The lay off from our last shows at the end of last year to the scheduled May dates was already the longest lay off we’ve had since starting the band. We were just getting back into practice and figuring out the new music when we had to move indoors so yeah I think it will be slightly emotional. I’m not sure whether it would be comparable to the first live show we ever played. That was just something very small at the time, and I suppose lacked great significance. It’s only really gained its significance based on what we’ve been able to achieve since. Our next show, however, coming out of all of this and being in a situation where we can once again be in a room with loved ones and of course fans will certainly have an emotional edge to it.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Charlie McCough: As you can imagine all plans are really up in the air at the moment and are constantly changing but we’ve got some more releases planned and we are creating some short Fantasies of a Stay at Home Episodes which are part isolation diaries part album documentary so hopefully people will enjoy that. We’ve also been sharing some long-form pieces of writing through an area on our website called The Room which people can take a look at if it tickles their fancy.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem while we’ve been locked up so they’ve both been serving me well. Myself and Thomas have also both shared personal playlists so hopefully, they’ll provide some light for people. There’s a song on mine, “Bright Horses” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, which I keep banging on about but the sentiment is so beautiful and so powerful at the moment. It’s a call to engage or believe in one’s own imagination, to live outside the realms of reality. It’s again looking at art as an escapist tool. If there’s a song to get us through these times perhaps it’s that one.