I had the pleasure of seeing the boys of Blaenavon perform on the Mohawk’s indoor stage on the seventh day of SXSW. The band packed a tiny, shadowy room at [arguably] the best venue in Austin. The crowd was immediately impressed by this band from Hampshire. I was too, but I’ve struggled to find the exact words I want.
In the weeks following their Austin appearance, Blaenavon released a debut album, That’s Your Lot, and also announced a show with Alt-J in London….well, we’ll have more words on that shortly.
Here is what you should know:
Lead singer Ben Gregory, bassist Frank Wright, and drummer Harris McMillan began making music together when they were just teenagers. When Blaenavon was beginning to craft their sound, they boys took a blow after their record label was skeptical.
"We were all really upset about it because we'd played this album that we'd poured our hearts into," McMillan said in a press release. "And that night [the label] held an emergency meeting, sitting round the table, us being quite despondent and them saying a lot of things that were really true, and I suppose it took about a week for it to sink in that what they were saying had ground.”
As a result of that conversation, Blaenavon wrote a mission statement of sorts, called the “12 Commandments of Blaenavon.”
"They're useful things," said McMillan, "like ‘Try to rehearse nine-to-five', but also there are things about how we should be with each other and how we should be in life."
Gregory said afterward that the band had to screw up to excel later.
“If we’d recorded an album earlier it would have been quite juvenile,” he said.
While I can’t speak to Blaenavon’s sound before that fateful meeting, I can assure you that their sound today has both depth and purpose. The band’s debut album dropped on April 7, and was given five stars by DIYMag.com. This trio sounds startlingly like our other favorite British rock acts-- like FOALS, White Lies, and Bloc Party. This rock group is filled with potential and will most likely steal major stages in the next few years.
Once you listen, you won’t be able to stop.