Last year, Blossoms‘ self-titled debut album, packed with sublime pop hooks and psych-y experiments, raced to to the top of the charts in its first week of release and went on to become one of the biggest-selling debuts of 2016. Only Bradley Walsh could, bizarrely, best them for sales.
Now, they’ve just wrapped up their headlining stint on the VO5 NME Awards Tour 2017, alongside Cabbage and Rory Wynne. If you think all that success and acclaim might have changed them, you’re wrong. Backstage in Norwich, they’re as grounded and easygoing as they were when they were just five friends from Stockport rather than one of Britain’s most lauded new acts.
These dates are their biggest headline shows so far – ones that have helped tick off a few achievements. A few days earlier, the band stopped off at The Roundhouse in London for what they call one of the highlights of the tour. “Across the road is The Monarch and we played there in January 2014,” says singer Tom Ogden. “It was mad walking across the road like ‘Now we’re headlining there sold out and we played that really small place three years earlier’. It makes it more real.”
“Me and Tom were walking past and we saw some lad tuning his drums on stage,” adds drummer Joe Donovan. “That was me three years ago. It’s mental.”
The tour has also introduced moshpits to their shows for the first time. On the opening night in Keele, several attempts by the audience to start huge circle pits fail hilariously as the songs changed tempo or just ended completely. Bassist Charlie Salt says that’s been a problem most of the crowds have faced: “They’re all really badly-timed.” “I was telling them [when to start], but now I don’t bother,” Ogden replies with a sigh and shake of the head.
One constant on their hard-earned ascent to their current position, aside from their knack to write killer tunes, has been their reluctance to shy away from their roots. At every gig they play, you’re guaranteed to hear Ogden introduce the band by saying “We’re Blossoms from Stockport”. “I said it at Night & Day Cafe [in Manchester] and I said at Roundhouse the other night,” he says, shrugging as if saying they were from Manchester like other bands from their area never even occurred to him.
A conscious move or not, the band see it as having only positive ramifications for those looking up to them. “It gives bands the confidence to say where they’re actually from,” Salt reasons. “It shows you don’t have to say you’re from Manchester to get anywhere. When we released the debut album we did a gig at Stockport Plaza and someone said we were giving bands in the area something to look up to – you can do something even though you’re from Stockport.” The local paper reviewed the show and, as Ogden explains with a slight grin, commented any 16-year-old from the town would have felt like they could take over the world.
The next stage in Blossoms’ own journey to world domination is making a second album. They’re staying as tight-lipped as they can on what to expect – largely because they’re yet to actually hit the studio and start working on it properly. Anyone who’s managed to sneak into a soundcheck on this tour will have heard one new track that the group describe as being like Bat For Lashes, Arctic Monkeys, “darker in a good way” and like Madonna’s ‘Jump’. As if that wasn’t already a confusing mix, Ogden adds: “The synths sound like Foreigner, ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’. It’s very Vice City, Grand Theft Auto.”
While they’re keen not to pin down precisely what the record will sound like or what they’re going to do on it, Ogden is sure of one thing. “There will be a talk box on it. You know what Daft Punk use? We did some demos with one and sent them to James Skelly, our producer, and he loved it.” “Blossoms have gone mental,” mutters synth player Myles Kellock as the room erupts in howls of laughter.
if you’re keen to hear the results of that little experiment – and why wouldn’t you be? – you might have to be patient. The band say they’re not rushing things and are only heading into the studio for a few days over the summer. Depending how things go, they might put out a single before festival season. Don’t expect them to test out any new songs at their forthcoming shows either, unless they also get frustrated with the wait. “We get impatient,” says Ogden. “But I think we’d want to hold back until something drops. We’ll see what happens – there’s no rules. When there’s 12 killer tunes then the album will come out. We’re probably on six or seven at the moment.”
Before they even get into the studio, though, there’s the small matter of heading back to America for a series of shows, including appearances at Coachella and New York’s Governors Ball. They’re not letting the magnitude of playing US festivals disrupt their typical hardworking, down-to-earth attitude, though. “When big things like that come around it’s good for a bit and then you just get your head back down,” says Donovan. “There’s always a gig there.”
“A lot of bands aren’t as busy as us,” Ogden adds. “For them, Coachella will be the highlight of their year. But leading up to Coachella, we’re playing San Francisco, Vancouver and all these other places that are important. We never put all of our chips down on one gig. We just spread it all out.”
“We’re just going to keep going over [to America] until we crack it,” guitarist Josh Dewhurst chips in nonchalantly. “And then I buy a yacht.”
Before walking off stage at the end of the night in London, Ogden made a rather more realistic promise to the crowd that Salt describes as “quite important” – “We’ll see you at Brixton.” “I don’t know if we’re going it,” Ogden jumps in quickly. “We’ve not booked it, but you just wanna play there, don’t you?” Blossoms selling out that iconic venue before 2017 is out is one bet you don’t need to play it safe on.