Q & A: The Blackout

On December 1, The Blackout announced that they were to disband following one final tour in March. The decision draws a line under an 11-year tenure which has seen the release of four studio albums, three EPs and a clutch of singles. TeamRock caught up with co-vocalist Sean Smith to find out what the bloody hell is going on…

It’s been 24 hours since The Blackout made the announcement. How are you feeling right now?

Sean Smith: “Sad and happy, I guess. The reaction from people was beautiful. I wasn’t sure what to expect but people ended up sharing pictures and stories. It was nice to see those and reminisce. I’ve had a bunch of texts from friends, family and other band people sending me their condolences. Twitter too; it’s emotional. I’ve been tagged on loads of pictures – some of [the fans are acting] like the end of The Blackout means I’ve died. I’m not dead.”

Was it a collective decision to part ways?

“Yeah. When we started rehearsing after finishing the Wolves EP, we realised that we wouldn’t be able to carry on for much longer. We sat down for a chat and people brought up that they’d like to have a career and make moves and us not continuing was the only way. In fact, we had originally decided for it to be over by now, but we wanted that one last tour!”

Has it been difficult at times to keep the band going?

“It’s been difficult to keep alive! It came to the point when we were losing money doing shows and it had to come out of our own pockets. We couldn’t do that forever. Some of the boys have kids and mortgages, so it affected everything.”

It must feel bittersweet then, that the latest EP was met with such a positive reaction.

“Yeah. The people’s reaction to Wolves has been amazing! I think a lot of people can hear in the lyrics how hard the last two years have been for us and they’ve connected more with us.”

Are you concerned other bands are currently facing the same dilemma?

“I genuinely think a few bands will go the same way. Bands can’t afford to tour and pay the crew the same fees that’ve been going around since the 1980s. The music industry has changed for the worse and if artists can’t afford to be paid, then how can they pay the crew? Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen to anyone else, but I can’t see that not happening.”

What were your expectations when the band formed in 2003?

“We did it step-by-step. We never expected anything – we wanted to entertain, write catchy songs and be the best live band we could. No miming! Did we achieve it? You bet your ass we did! It’s been brilliant! If you’ve ever liked anything we’ve done or yelled anything at me, thank you. If you threw a bottle of piss at me in Cardiff Big Weekend a few years back, thank you. I just wish I hadn’t caught it and necked it, but thank you. It made the show look gnarlier!”

What’s the one thing you’ve learned while jumping around for over a decade?

“Be nice to people. Always. Manners and politeness don’t cost a thing but can mean the world to people. Also don’t play Barnsley… it’s stuck in 1995.”

What are you planning on doing following the tour?

“God knows! We’ve had to keep it under wraps for a while so I couldn’t really go out job hunting without telling people why I couldn’t start for the next three months!”

**What’s been your personal highlight? **

“There’s so many! All the shows we’ve played. The people we’ve met. The places we’ve been. Performing Counterfeit in front of thousands of people with Limp Bizkit was pretty special. My Fred Durst impression was on point that night, too! I think Gavin’s [Butler, co-vocalist] father described it best. He said, ‘You’ve seen places I’ll never see’. And for that, I’m truly grateful. But Gavin’s dad should get out more!”

The Blackout’s final tour will kick off in March 2015. Tickets go on sale from 9am on December 3.

March 23: Birmingham Asylum

March 24: London Koko

March 25: Manchester Academy 3

March 26: Glasgow King Tuts

March 28: Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.