Your weekly go-to new music guide brought to you by our London music journo, Peggy, as she uncovers the latest ‘bands and artists to watch’ in the post-punk, new wave, jazz and indie communities. This week she discusses DIY video making, jangle pop and a fear of imminent hair loss with Adam, the energising frontman of Manchester's new wave five-piece, Blanketman. @peggyfromearth
Hailing from the historic indie hub of Manchester, how did the five of you come to form in late 2017?
None of us are actually from Manchester, most of the band moved here from other towns and other countries at different points in 2017 for various reasons. I posted an ad on a well-known band member finding website looking to get something together and the rest of the band answered the call. Went for a few pints to make sure we could all bare each other’s company enough and then started jamming. Manchester has become our hometown as a band and there is nowhere quite like it.
With nostalgic echoes of 80’s jangle pop and new wave adorning your sound, where in particular do you take influence and how does this impact your songwriting processes?
We use about three guitar pedals between the two of us and two of those are tuners which probably adds to the jingle jangle. Our bass player Jeremy loves new wave so I think his basslines have a part to play in that. We have influences from all over the shop, we disagree on a lot of music which I think adds a nice dynamic to our sound. A few things we mostly agree on would be Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Modern Lovers, The Fall.
You gave a triumphant ‘up yours’ to Covid-19 by releasing your footloose debut single, ‘Taking You With Me’ in late March. What were your thoughts behind the track?
It’s a bit of fun really. Probably a song birthed from my very conscious fear of aging, instilled in me by the male side of my family and their lack of hair. But also, probably inspired by a wider fear of aging within our society. Its good to laugh at these things. It kind of has ended up being a bit of an up yours to Covid-19, people have told us that it’s made them laugh (especially the video) which is always a nice thing in these bleak times.
Did the unseemly timing prove a help or hindrance?
I’d say overall it has been a hindrance but only minor really. Not being able to play to promote the single has been real shame for us. Especially considering this is the first time a lot of people have heard us. Would have been nice to play for some more new faces. The release has also probably felt a negative ripple effect from the impact the virus has had on rest of the industry. However, that’s all pretty selfish thinking really, we are incredibly lucky that our plans haven’t been disrupted that much. There are many bands, venues, crew members (the list goes on), that have had, and are having, a far worse time of things. It is important that everyone does what they can to help, if they can.
The accompanying music video, featuring a performance from yourselves in full swing against a homage to public transport backdrop, has a gloriously DIY feel to it. How did you conceive the concept and execute the idea?
I guess the concept for that video stems from our logo, the reverse of the National Rail logo. Dan (guitar) has a cap with it on, we were trying to come up with a logo at the time and we just thought that’s a good logo let’s use that. Although completely unrelated “Taking You With Me” kind of holds connotations of travelling somewhere…? I was in Budapest at the time when we were deciding on it, budget was small and time was short, we couldn’t think of anything better. We like a train ride and we’re all for the re-nationalisation of the railways. Our manager messaged me saying he’d ordered a 12-foot green screen and we can do it in our rehearsal room, so there was no going back. We are incredibly lucky to have had help from musician/videographer/photographer Hannah Cobb who filmed, directed and edited it in a few days. Without her it wouldn’t have been nearly as good.
In remembrance of packing out gig venues past, what memories came out of your sold out, headline single launch?
I think I speak for the whole band when I say that it was one of, if not the best show we have played so far. It was our first ‘proper’ headline show in our hometown and we put it on ourselves with very poor promotion skills. It was joyous despite the looming lockdown. We were supported by our new friends from the Calder Valley, The Lounge Society who are always great. We did a raffle and invited TLS on stage to play some Modern Lovers with us at the end. Good night all round.
Congratulations on your recent signing to the ATC live booking agency (Nick Cave, Fontaines D.C., Shame)! Given the current state of uncertainty surrounding live music, where and when do you expect we can hope to see you next performing live?
Thank you. We are very pleased to be working with them. Feels quite surreal for us to be part of such a quality roster. They are also lovely people which is a bonus. We’ll be back playing live as soon as restrictions allow us. Hopefully autumn, we’re going to try get out of Manchester and play some shows. Maybe on a tour, who knows. Also, planning another headline show in Manchester at Christmas time if possible.
There’s been a big push from gig venues and bands alike to support the Music Venue Trust’s ‘Save Our Venues’ national fundraising initiative during the current pandemic. As performers, which venues have earned your support over the past couple of years?
A very worthy cause indeed. There are so many venues that we’ve played at and frequented that have earned our support. More importantly they have given us their support, a place to perform and to develop. To name a couple in Manchester, The Peer Hat gave us our first gig and many to follow over the years. Not only are they huge supporters and advocates of grassroots and DIY music, they are all top-notch people who have managed to create a real community unlike anywhere else in Manchester. YES has become one of the main hubs of music in the city, we have played there many times (including our headline show) and they also book so many of our favourite bands.
Which other bands should we also be listening to from the North-West circuit?
The Lounge Society, Document, POSA, MOLD, Slow Knife, The Early Mornings, Julia Bardo, Humint, Chupa Cabra, Tinfoils. The list goes on. What can we expect to hear from your release schedule for the rest of 2020?
As soon as lockdown restrictions permit we’re going to record a couple more singles. If everything goes to plan, we’d like to have one out in autumn some time and one out in the new year. We shall see.
@blanketmanband Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/07xNFHX4rqVB3joStNCFdD?si=imv3hEZnRSKbR1cA6v2VwQ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GNkNi02WMc