What bands were you involved in before Bleak, and what became of them?
Yvonne: - "My main band before Bleak was a dark electronic band named Misnomer, which Anton was also a part of..."
Anton: - "Yeah, Misnomer were doing OK, selling a few records, getting a bit of airplay, but then the whole thing fell apart, and left us with the blues?"

How did you get the idea for the Bleak project?
Yvonne: - "Bleak arose out of the ashes of Misnomer where both Anton and I emerged as better and wiser musicians ready to take on a deeper and more emotional sound."
Anton: - "We just spent about a year licking our wounds, drinking wine, smoking a shisha and knocking guitars around whilst listening to old blues records which is the darkest kind of music there is. We were reacting against slick production, intricate electronics, and we were returning to the basics. We started writing a lot in the open D minor tuning which is a very dark brooding key, after listening to such classics as Devil Got My Woman by Skip James? and it all came together when Rach came along - she gave us the intricacy and depth we were missing before. The political stuff is there too - we weren't just writing songs about emotions and day to day struggles, but also about the fact that the fight against racism, poverty, homophobia, war, preventable diseases is not over and politicians can't fix that, it's up to us as whoever we are - in this case blues musicians - to stand up against bigotry, cruelty and exploitation. Three chords and the truth, man, that's what we're armed with."

How did your (multi-national) line-up come together?
Yvonne: - "Just by living and socialising in London, really."
Anton: - "London does that. It's not so much a city as a maelstorm of coincidences and it will throw people together or apart like grains of sand in a hurricane - I guess us lot were lucky to be thrown together in that way. How does that line from the Duchess of Malfi go we're all the stars? tennis balls."
Rachel: - "I think I may have just found myself in the right place at the right time. I'm pretty pleased that a bassist who's never played bass before was seen by Anton and Yvonne as a viable option."
Anton: - "Rach is being modest. She is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, has amazing pitch and the kind of understanding of music most of us mortal can only dream of."

Do you think you can win the alternative scene over with your 'death.blues' sound, or you think you'd stand a better chance amongst blues music's more traditional fanbase? You seem to have attracted interest on both sides!
Anton: - "It's been a weird ride. The traditional blues crowd are kinda scared of us - but they hear the howl and they recognise the impact of Blind Willie Johnson, Howlin? Wolf, Screamin? Jay and they are forced along at gunpoint to go back to where the Blues came from and leave their comfort zone of rip off merchants like Eric Clapton? And the alternative crowd know damn right that the blues is a thousand times darker and more demonic than whatever black metal or goth band might happen to be strutting about with an upside down cross at that particular moment. The deep mournfulness of Bessie Smith, the downright satanic stylings of Robert Johnson, the abyss you see in the work of Skip James. It's heavy frightening stuff, and not many can handle it, lest it opens up and swallows them whole. We make it clear to everyone that you're either with us or against us, and if you're against us, then God help you because the devil is waiting."
Yvonne: - "That's the thing - we have Blues at our core but incorporate a lot of other genres so are able to attract a wider fan base."

A related question - how did you convince Line Out records to release your debut album? Blues isn't their usual style....
Anton: - "Bob (Line Out Records boss) picked up a bunch of refugees from Wasp Factory Records when those guys ceased operating - and a lot of them were our friends. We ended up standing in for a freshly broken up Earth Loop Recall mk II at a gig in Southampton at which a bunch of other Line Out acts were playing. We sat around a table and had a chat over a pint and came out of it as one of the Line Out roster. Bob is a wonderful, kind, supportive man and we hope he likes what we do - he's always been very positive about the dirtiest of cell-phone recorded demos we send his way? So my advice to people out there is, go out and buy a few records by different Line Out artists and decide for yourselves where you think we fit in?"

Any interesting tales to tell about the album's recording?
Rachel: - "Well... we wondered for a little while if we would ever actually complete the beast. We tore through a few things making it - the desk in one studio blew up twice, amps kept committing suicide, the pressing plant actually burned down when actually pressing the CD copies; and then we very nearly lost the lot after our guitarist Tim misplaced the hard drive with the masters. It was like it was cursed. Maybe it was. But we also had a lot of fun, and the process really brought us together as a band, and I for one learned a lot. Remind us to tell you how difficult it is to get a microphone into a shower sometime..."

And how well do you feel the album has been received?
Anton: - "'For the Good of the Nation' is not the easiest of listens, and yet we had surprisingly positive feedback for what is a pretty brutal record. A few nice reviews in print, a bit of radio play from some unexpected quarters. I think that's the power of the Blues though - even if the instrumentation is heavy and monolithic at its core it still speaks to people's darkest, most primal emotions. We'd love to hear from Brutal Resonance readers what they thought of it. Now there is a challenge - send us your hate mail!"

What was the thinking behind the 'Run For Cover' video?
Rachel: - "Huge shout out on that one to Nigel of Themguidedmissiles and Andy Hobbs of Facsimile Productions who really made the vision come alive. I guess the idea is that we're all animals wrapped up in some vague representation of 'normality'; and sometimes the dark side wins..."
Yvonne: - "Also, lunch!"
Rachel: - "Always about the lunch."
Anton: - "And the next one will be even more epic - keep an eye out!"

How did your recent visit to the USA come about? Many European bands struggle to make it that far.
Anton: - "Yvonne and I happened to be going stateside and some people wanted us to play a couple of shows and buy us a few beers. We have a lot friends out there so we figured, why not? It was great fun, and nice to road test some new stuff internationally."

Any stories to tell from the tour?
Yvonne: - "A Russian and an African walk into a cowboy karaoke bar on the outskirts of Baltimore. Not the beginning of a un-PC joke but mine and Anton's second gig in the US. It all worked out well in the end though, the crowd was great and we had a really good time."
Anton: - "I was grateful that they didn't kill us, actually. We probably deserved it."

Anton, How did your involvement with Sol Invictus come about?
Anton: - "I've known the bass player in Sol, Caroline Jago, an awesome musician in her own right with her project Seventh Harmonic, for a long time and she's always been a sort of musical guide and patron to me. A fairy gothmother if you will? When the guitar vacancy came up in Sol, she hooked Tony Wakeford and I up - we had a jam and I hope Tony liked the way I interpreted some of his work. I enjoy playing with Sol very much - superficially it may seem to be a different genre, and stylistically it may be up to a point, but the reality is that neo folk is not all that different to death.blues in its intent. In both cases you are working with very similar traditional folk themes of suffering, loss, displacement, trying to reconnect with one's environment, and just trying to get to the roots of how traditional music came about in its most primal form. Maybe in their origins one is rooted in the plight of European serfs and the other comes form the horrors of slavery in the New World, but there are clear parallels and overlaps. People are people and everyone aspires to the same things: love, freedom, empathy, mutual respect, harmony with nature. The music reflects that. On a personal note - whilst I've been in the game for a dozen or more years, working with musicians who are so instinctive and vastly more experienced than me is a big thing for me - it's important to keep learning. Tony & co are lovely people, very chilled out and tolerant so it's a pleasure to be making a contribution."

You've covered a lot of ground musically so far. Do you have any other musical styles or concepts you want to practice that you haven't had a chance to yet?
Rachel: - "We're actually making great progress on shaping up our next album, and there's a few surprises in there. We've had a play around with some instrument and vocal switching, and some of the tracks we've been working on have a very different sound. We're pretty excited about it - each of us brings their own influences to the sound, and I think we're mixing it up a bit more these days. I don't think we can really say we're aiming for a particular style or concept, but I don't think we're aimlessly wandering either... cliched, I know, but... maybe evolving is the right word."
Bleak interview
April 15, 2012
Brutal Resonance

Bleak

Apr 2012
What bands were you involved in before Bleak, and what became of them?
Yvonne: - "My main band before Bleak was a dark electronic band named Misnomer, which Anton was also a part of..."
Anton: - "Yeah, Misnomer were doing OK, selling a few records, getting a bit of airplay, but then the whole thing fell apart, and left us with the blues?"

How did you get the idea for the Bleak project?
Yvonne: - "Bleak arose out of the ashes of Misnomer where both Anton and I emerged as better and wiser musicians ready to take on a deeper and more emotional sound."
Anton: - "We just spent about a year licking our wounds, drinking wine, smoking a shisha and knocking guitars around whilst listening to old blues records which is the darkest kind of music there is. We were reacting against slick production, intricate electronics, and we were returning to the basics. We started writing a lot in the open D minor tuning which is a very dark brooding key, after listening to such classics as Devil Got My Woman by Skip James? and it all came together when Rach came along - she gave us the intricacy and depth we were missing before. The political stuff is there too - we weren't just writing songs about emotions and day to day struggles, but also about the fact that the fight against racism, poverty, homophobia, war, preventable diseases is not over and politicians can't fix that, it's up to us as whoever we are - in this case blues musicians - to stand up against bigotry, cruelty and exploitation. Three chords and the truth, man, that's what we're armed with."

How did your (multi-national) line-up come together?
Yvonne: - "Just by living and socialising in London, really."
Anton: - "London does that. It's not so much a city as a maelstorm of coincidences and it will throw people together or apart like grains of sand in a hurricane - I guess us lot were lucky to be thrown together in that way. How does that line from the Duchess of Malfi go we're all the stars? tennis balls."
Rachel: - "I think I may have just found myself in the right place at the right time. I'm pretty pleased that a bassist who's never played bass before was seen by Anton and Yvonne as a viable option."
Anton: - "Rach is being modest. She is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, has amazing pitch and the kind of understanding of music most of us mortal can only dream of."

Do you think you can win the alternative scene over with your 'death.blues' sound, or you think you'd stand a better chance amongst blues music's more traditional fanbase? You seem to have attracted interest on both sides!
Anton: - "It's been a weird ride. The traditional blues crowd are kinda scared of us - but they hear the howl and they recognise the impact of Blind Willie Johnson, Howlin? Wolf, Screamin? Jay and they are forced along at gunpoint to go back to where the Blues came from and leave their comfort zone of rip off merchants like Eric Clapton? And the alternative crowd know damn right that the blues is a thousand times darker and more demonic than whatever black metal or goth band might happen to be strutting about with an upside down cross at that particular moment. The deep mournfulness of Bessie Smith, the downright satanic stylings of Robert Johnson, the abyss you see in the work of Skip James. It's heavy frightening stuff, and not many can handle it, lest it opens up and swallows them whole. We make it clear to everyone that you're either with us or against us, and if you're against us, then God help you because the devil is waiting."
Yvonne: - "That's the thing - we have Blues at our core but incorporate a lot of other genres so are able to attract a wider fan base."

A related question - how did you convince Line Out records to release your debut album? Blues isn't their usual style....
Anton: - "Bob (Line Out Records boss) picked up a bunch of refugees from Wasp Factory Records when those guys ceased operating - and a lot of them were our friends. We ended up standing in for a freshly broken up Earth Loop Recall mk II at a gig in Southampton at which a bunch of other Line Out acts were playing. We sat around a table and had a chat over a pint and came out of it as one of the Line Out roster. Bob is a wonderful, kind, supportive man and we hope he likes what we do - he's always been very positive about the dirtiest of cell-phone recorded demos we send his way? So my advice to people out there is, go out and buy a few records by different Line Out artists and decide for yourselves where you think we fit in?"

Any interesting tales to tell about the album's recording?
Rachel: - "Well... we wondered for a little while if we would ever actually complete the beast. We tore through a few things making it - the desk in one studio blew up twice, amps kept committing suicide, the pressing plant actually burned down when actually pressing the CD copies; and then we very nearly lost the lot after our guitarist Tim misplaced the hard drive with the masters. It was like it was cursed. Maybe it was. But we also had a lot of fun, and the process really brought us together as a band, and I for one learned a lot. Remind us to tell you how difficult it is to get a microphone into a shower sometime..."

And how well do you feel the album has been received?
Anton: - "'For the Good of the Nation' is not the easiest of listens, and yet we had surprisingly positive feedback for what is a pretty brutal record. A few nice reviews in print, a bit of radio play from some unexpected quarters. I think that's the power of the Blues though - even if the instrumentation is heavy and monolithic at its core it still speaks to people's darkest, most primal emotions. We'd love to hear from Brutal Resonance readers what they thought of it. Now there is a challenge - send us your hate mail!"

What was the thinking behind the 'Run For Cover' video?
Rachel: - "Huge shout out on that one to Nigel of Themguidedmissiles and Andy Hobbs of Facsimile Productions who really made the vision come alive. I guess the idea is that we're all animals wrapped up in some vague representation of 'normality'; and sometimes the dark side wins..."
Yvonne: - "Also, lunch!"
Rachel: - "Always about the lunch."
Anton: - "And the next one will be even more epic - keep an eye out!"

How did your recent visit to the USA come about? Many European bands struggle to make it that far.
Anton: - "Yvonne and I happened to be going stateside and some people wanted us to play a couple of shows and buy us a few beers. We have a lot friends out there so we figured, why not? It was great fun, and nice to road test some new stuff internationally."

Any stories to tell from the tour?
Yvonne: - "A Russian and an African walk into a cowboy karaoke bar on the outskirts of Baltimore. Not the beginning of a un-PC joke but mine and Anton's second gig in the US. It all worked out well in the end though, the crowd was great and we had a really good time."
Anton: - "I was grateful that they didn't kill us, actually. We probably deserved it."

Anton, How did your involvement with Sol Invictus come about?
Anton: - "I've known the bass player in Sol, Caroline Jago, an awesome musician in her own right with her project Seventh Harmonic, for a long time and she's always been a sort of musical guide and patron to me. A fairy gothmother if you will? When the guitar vacancy came up in Sol, she hooked Tony Wakeford and I up - we had a jam and I hope Tony liked the way I interpreted some of his work. I enjoy playing with Sol very much - superficially it may seem to be a different genre, and stylistically it may be up to a point, but the reality is that neo folk is not all that different to death.blues in its intent. In both cases you are working with very similar traditional folk themes of suffering, loss, displacement, trying to reconnect with one's environment, and just trying to get to the roots of how traditional music came about in its most primal form. Maybe in their origins one is rooted in the plight of European serfs and the other comes form the horrors of slavery in the New World, but there are clear parallels and overlaps. People are people and everyone aspires to the same things: love, freedom, empathy, mutual respect, harmony with nature. The music reflects that. On a personal note - whilst I've been in the game for a dozen or more years, working with musicians who are so instinctive and vastly more experienced than me is a big thing for me - it's important to keep learning. Tony & co are lovely people, very chilled out and tolerant so it's a pleasure to be making a contribution."

You've covered a lot of ground musically so far. Do you have any other musical styles or concepts you want to practice that you haven't had a chance to yet?
Rachel: - "We're actually making great progress on shaping up our next album, and there's a few surprises in there. We've had a play around with some instrument and vocal switching, and some of the tracks we've been working on have a very different sound. We're pretty excited about it - each of us brings their own influences to the sound, and I think we're mixing it up a bit more these days. I don't think we can really say we're aiming for a particular style or concept, but I don't think we're aimlessly wandering either... cliched, I know, but... maybe evolving is the right word."
Apr 15 2012

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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