“What’s the new album about?” ponders Ben Gregory momentarily, “Well, most of it is about misery, anxiety, struggling. Laziness. Boredom. Depression. Friendship.”
If Blaenavon’s debut ‘That’s Your Lot’ was a beautifully pitched exploration of vulnerability, then it appears that their long-awaited follow-up is more of the same.
“It’s a really personal album for me,” he explains, “which is why I’ve found it so difficult to get it finished. These songs are a lot more direct and from the heart. It’s all stuff that I have been, and am, going through.”
After a huge 2016 that included a high-profile support slot at The O2 for alt-J, Blaenavon seemed to slip off the radar this year. Hunkered down at a Manchester studio with Wolf Alice and Foals’ producer Catherine Marks, the boys have been busy crafting something special.
“This time around, we focussed a bit more on the songwriting. It was a much more deliberate process,” Ben says. “It’s definitely more diverse than the first one. There’s some harder rock tunes, as well as some big old ballads.”
The track that he is most excited about is one of those ballads, entitled ‘The Song’s Never Gonna Be The Same’. “It’s just the best thing I’ve written by quite some distance I think,” he explains, before also waxing lyrical about the title track (the name of which is still under wraps).
“I think we had a bit more time to mess around and experiment on this record, and Catherine is full of ideas and really good with guitar sounds, obviously.”
Describing it as a progression rather than revolution, a few songs have already been trialled at this summer’s festivals so those with keen ears will have already heard a few.
“We wanted to keep it minimal because you don’t want to cram in too many, but we’ll play maybe two or three on this tour too.”
This upcoming October tour, which begins in St Albans before wrapping in their hometown of Guildford, is a chance to say goodbye to the ‘That’s Your Lot’ era. Still looking back at it fondly, (“There’s still a lot of truth in it I think” is how Ben proudly describes it), it may very well turn out to be the last time that some of the songs are played live – especially in venues as intimate as some on this tour. Support comes from Boniface, who caught Ben’s eye during The Great Escape earlier this year (“He was so sick!” is Ben’s verdict).
And then, with a January support slot for The Wombats which takes in an appearance at Wembley Arena, and the new album set for release, Ben, Frank and Harris look set for a busy 2019 with more headline tours to come. As one chapter comes to an end for Blaenavon, another begins. Far from it being our lot, there’s plenty more to come.
Taken from the November issue of Dork, out now.
Words: Jamie MacMillan