According to their pithy, online bio, Blaenavon are “three boys with a story to tell”. Not that the youthful indie trio are keen to elaborate. “Let’s just say it’s a story of anguish, heartbreak, cross-dressing, and… a guy called Matt Hollidge,” singer Ben Gregory tells Radar wryly from his home village of Liss in Hampshire.
Although each member of the band – completed by bassist Frank Wright and drummer Harris McMillan – is only 17, they’ve been playing together, under various guises, for around four years. “Our formation is a dull story,” Gregory laments. “Harris and I got to know each other after I moved into a new place with my family – our mothers met and suggested that Harris and I get acquainted. We ended up jamming together. My piano teacher then told us to get in touch with Frank.”
Unremarkable though the band’s genesis may be, it’s certainly led to some thrilling music over the past 12 months. Following on from their attention-garnering debut single ‘Into The Night’, their new, four-track ‘Koso’ EP is released this week. Highlights include the Jeff Buckley-esque ‘Wunderkind’ and waltzing opener ‘Gods’, which is built around a delicate finger-picking sequence before erupting into a whoosh of overdriven guitars, sparkling crash cymbals and impassioned vocal declarations. It all sounds incredibly accomplished, stirring, and, dare we say, grown-up. It leaves you wondering where they will take their music next. “Well, the album is pretty much written,” explains Gregory. “We’re getting more comfortable with recording and so we’ll be experimenting with a few more ideas and instruments to expand our sound. We’re excited.”
Only time will tell as to whether Blaenavon truly do have a meaningful story. Frankly, it matters little, because judging by ‘Koso’, their music in itself is strong enough to ensure that plenty of ears will be engaged over the coming months. We’d love to know who that Hollidge chap is, though.
Need To Know
Based: Liss, Hampshire
For fans of: Wild Beasts, Wu Lyf
Buy It Now: The ‘Koso’ EP is out now
See them live: Blaenavon play a short UK tour at the end of October
Believe it or not: The ratio of the band’s Brazilian fans to their European fans is 17:1. Or so they say