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28 February 2024

Carve Your Own Path x The Blackout

The Blackout are still proving that they're The Best in Town

'If there was a ramp to the stage, I would ride it on stage tonight.'

It’s been 9 years since The Blackout took to the stage with their very own headline tour. Yeah, they’ve played festivals and the odd show here & there but now, they mean business. Announcing their UK headline tour all the way back in July 2023, the guys even had to add an extra date to their 4 day long tour due to phenomenal demand. The 6 piece formed in Merthyr Tidfil over 20 years ago and they’re proud to be one of the very few bands who’ve never lost or had to replace a single member of their band.

Birmingham was the second to last date of this tour, so we got Sean Smith & Gareth Lawrence (Snoz to you and me) on HQ soil to give them a taste of a lean mean Mutt Motorcycles machine. With Sean’s brother Jay being keen on his motorcycles, we were eager to get them riding and see what they thought! Despite the rain, the duo were still ready & raring for a ride around; Snoz got his hands on a 250cc Mongrel whilst Sean chose our RS-13 (also in 250cc). They were shown the basics but it didn’t take long for the confidence to kick in as they drove circles around our carpark. After letting the bikes do the talking, we decided it was time to sit down and do some talking of our own. 

I’ve heard there’s been a few injuries on this tour, is everyone okay?

Sean: That’s a bit of a weird question really.

Gareth: We nearly had more now when I nearly went into you!

S: Yeah, me & Snoz here, we played a quick game of chicken on the motorbikes which is very dangerous, I don’t recommend it to anyone but yeah, Gavin, the first night of the tour went so hard that he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Then had to be taken to a hospital, where they told him that he potentially needs surgery on it.

That’s one way to start a tour

S: He had the option to have surgery and then we'd have to cancel the tour or chuck a boot on..

Which is more rock & roll

S: Yeah, so he sat down for Glasgow but he went to the doctors in Wales, Wednesday and they told him you can stand on the boot. So last night he played standing up which was much better for him

G: To a certain point then he had to sit down cause he was shattered

S: The Blackout’s got a motto; if it can go wrong, it will go wrong because every tour, something’s happened.

G: It’s guaranteed

It’d be no fun without it… maybe? Or would you prefer it to go smooth?

S: Oooh, I dunno!

G: Nice one, glass half full! *laughter*


How does it feel to be back on tour because it’s been quite a while for you…

S: Love it. It’s amazing. It’s like, we've never been away so getting back into the groove is wicked but it's now also so different than what it was when we were doing the last time even though it was only nine years ago.

I Imagine so much has changed in that time

S: Apparently we’re the only band left who plays live now; everybody else has tracks, we have none of that. We’re the last remaining rock and roll band.

G: You look on stage and it’s actually….

S: It’s actually all of us making the noise

G: Dunno if that’s a good thing sometimes- “It’s actually him hitting them drums, oh my god”

S: Don’t get me wrong, I am off key but I would rather go and see a band be giving it their all and be slightly out of tune rather than ‘that’s the CD while they danced to it.’ You’re glorified dancers. But this tour has been amazing. I've said it on stage every night - when we had the idea to get back together, we just thought we’ll probably do a couple of 100 people places and all the shows, they're all 1,500+ [capacity] or whatever. It's bonkers to us and the reception has been crazy. It's almost like some of these people have laid dormant for nine and have just gone mad that we've come back. We played Manchester Academy 1 on Monday and I think in the end it was about 1,900 people in and I don't really remember seeing anybody holding a phone up which is also crazy.

G: You don’t normally see that

S: We’ve had loads of messages saying “this is the only picture I took all night because that was so much fun” and that means the world to us because you’re so into what we were doing that you’re just fixated on this so…

G: The first night was mad as well because, when we came on, we have this song called ‘This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ - they sing it back but bigger. Wicked. That was awesome. But then when we started doing the verses, I couldn’t hear him [Sean] & Gavin because they were singing so loud! Oh my god, that blew my mind!

They’ve been waiting for you. It’s the reunion everyone really wanted

G: It’s been unbelievable

S: People have really enjoyed it, we’re fuckin’ loving it - we wouldn’t enjoy it if people weren’t enjoying it. It’s an added bonus. It’s been brilliant.


Your first support every night has been a different local band - is that something that’s important to you? Supporting the scene & getting new names out there

S: Yes. Very Much. What happens in the music industry, when you have management and record labels and stuff, they are always pushing to take certain people out to do a favour to their mates and all that stuff. So on this tour, we said, let’s get a main support that we really like - so we got Dead Pony and I know it’s cliche to say “they could be the next Paramorejust because the front woman but they could be. They’re wonderful humans, they’ve got great songs - sadly they’re Scottish but we can forgive that. For the openers then, we could do industry nonsense and take out “hype bands” -

G: Someone comes up to you and says “these are worth giving opportunities” but we’re given a chance.  We were given a massive chance on a lot of tours by larger band who we’re like “we’ve seen you play, now come do another gig” so if we could pass it on…

S: Last night in Cardiff, we had a band called De’Lore open up and this morning the guitarist messaged me ‘thank you so much for that, you’ve made my life. I never thought any of my bands would ever play in the great hall in Cardiff’ but we’re just doing what we would want

G: Another thing with us as well is ‘if we can, we will’ especially now and the shows we’ve done so far, we can choose who we take on. When we played Mertha, there’s a band from Mertha, only young called TheBrass Bambis

S: A bit punky, a bit indie. It’s like Arctic Monkeys but South Wales but yeah, we’re just taking out bands we love. Monday we had Mouth Culture who’re amazing. Tuesday we had New Shapes in Glasgow and then we had De’Lore yesterday and Lunars tonight. It’s Connor Ball from The Vamps, his side project and I just thought it’d be cool if they could play. Then in London we’re taking out Birmingham’s own Fangs Out You’re wearing the t-shirt right nowS: I cut my fangs in Sabbath Town

G: You never told me you had it on!

Time for some bike chat..
Sean, you had the RS-13 & Snoz, I feel like you had the Sabbath

G: Did I get the Sabbath?!

I might have also made that up *laughter*
(I did in fact make up this up - Snoz got to have a go on the Mongrel, the original Mutt)

G: Aw, can we leave that like that?

You’ve both previously driven 125cc’s, how was it to be on a 250cc? Could you feel a difference?

G: Yeah, my 125, I got rid of it recently - I was thinking ‘I’m gonna have to give it some guts when I’m gonna go just to get me going again’. I was also trying not to breathe while I was riding it. 1) I had to concentrate too much on not crashing and 2) I didn’t wanna get my glasses steamed up! Amazing, I loved it! Such a smooth ride as well!

S: It was awesome. I haven’t ridden a bike for, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 12 years, maybe even longer. It’s made me want a bike and I’d never really wanted a bike before my dad - my dad was mad for motorbikes. When I was 16 he brought me a 50cc scooter hoping “I hope he gets into this so we can get him a proper bike” so he got me a bike from Italy without a limiter on it so I could do about 70mph on a 50cc - it was flying! But this now, instantly, “I like this”

We were trying to sell you the RS-13 you were on. Dan [shop floor manager] was in the background trying to find you a price. It’ll be on the o2 Academy stage tonight!

S: If we could get it up there - if there was a ramp to the stage, I would ride it on stage tonight. I was thinking about it, it probably won’t get through the tiny holes in the back

Surprisingly, it’s not designed for bikes

Maybe we could get a Mutt in a music video of yours?

G: Ooooooh

S: I don’t know if we’re doing any more. I don’t think we’re going to do any new music. We’re just a ‘remember us’ type band. This is the thing, we’ve got like 5 or 6 releases of music that we all liked and apparently, a couple of thousand people liked so let’s not rock the boat. What I found with the crowd we’ve got now is some of them are out of the rock world now so they came for like “oh, I wanna remember what it was like being 20”. Where you can keep going for a nostalgia act - if we started doing new material, I don't think the people who came to see us for nostalgia would be interested.
We are shooting content & we’ve got Matt [tour photographer] with us - I’m sure we can get - can we do a tour on motorbikes? Has anybody done that?

Not as far as I’m aware…

S: Can I get one of these to Slam Dunk?

I’m gonna have a lot of talks with a lot of people and see what we can do…

Who else thinks we should get Sean Smith himself on the back of a Mutt & document a road trip from South Wales to Hatfield Park?
This duo have their fingers in a myriad of other pies with Valhalla Awaits (Snoz’s other band), Raiders & S’appenin’ (Seans’ band with The Blackout co-member, James Davies & podcast). Be sure to get all content in your ear holes, you won’t regret it. 


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