bdrmm have revealed details of their second album ‘I Don’t Know’, which marks their signing to Mogwai‘s label Rock Action. Check out new single ‘It’s Just A Bit Of Blood’ below, along with our interview with the Hull four-piece.
‘It’s Just A Bit Of Blood’ comes with visuals directed by Chris Tomsett’s Innerstrings. The track will be familiar to longtime fans of the band, having been a staple of the band’s live shows for over two years.
“People have liked to sing along to it before we even had it recorded, so it felt like a natural place to start,” guitarist Joe Vickers told NME. Bassist and keyboardist Jordan Smith explained that the song acts as a bridging point between the shoegaze-leaning sound of their 2020 debut album ‘Bedroom’, and a broader pool of influences that defines ‘I Don’t Know’.
“It’s got the first album’s sensibilities, but it does things in the way we work now, so it’s a nice jumping-off point,” he said. “We’re not putting the six-minute dance song out just yet, that can wait until release day!”
‘I Don’t Know’ sees the band embrace not only dance music but trip-hop, slowcore, experimental and ambient music. Drummer Conor Murray, meanwhile, has brought a heavy influence from his love of jazz music to the album’s beats.
“After the first record, we spent a lot more time together because we couldn’t get back into the studio [due to the coronavirus pandemic] and we decided we may as well do this on our own terms,” said Smith. “We’d rather try and fail but be true to the music we want to make, rather than just carry on making four-minute shoegaze bangers. That’s great, but there are more strings to our bow.”
He added that the positive reception of the long-form standalone single ‘Three’ last year emboldened them when it came to experimentation. “It’s not like it’s shocking in any way, it’s just got a piano on it, but seeing the reaction when that finally came out was what made us really make the jump to going with a more unconventional approach.”
Coming out of lockdown was also a factor in the record’s broader emotional range. “After so much time spent wallowing in our own self-pity sat alone in our underpants, it didn’t feel right to go back to just being so sad! We’ve done that, so it’s time to try and smile again,” Smith said.
Following the unexpected success of their first album, declared “a gripping modern-day shoegaze classic” in a five-star NME review, the band said they went through a number of “false starts” when it came to finding the best way to begin the follow-up. “We were originally trying to write it in COVID, then we started again six months after that with Alex [Greaves, producer of the band’s debut], but we weren’t quite mentally ready. We tried again with a different producer, but that just wasn’t working as well as we wanted. Eventually, we were in the right place, so we went back to Alex to do it properly, and then it just flowed and worked well.”
Ultimately, said Smith, “I think having all these times to sort of throw the shit at the wall and see what sticks has been helpful. At first, we tried doing it really guitar-focused and traditional live recording, but we realised that it was not what we want to do at all. We’re into studio trickery and messing about with sounds, so not being able to do that felt like we were cutting off our legs for no reason.”
Added Vickers: “It feels a risk this album because we’ve changed label and changed sound, but it’s a risk we felt we had to take. It’s no good making the same album again and doing the same thing.”
The new label in question is Rock Action, the imprint founded and run by Scottish post-rock veterans Mogwai. They first encountered frontman Stuart Braithwaite when he came to see the band’s show in 2021 at Glasgow’s The Hug And Pint. “He was the soundest guy in the world,” Vickers recalled. “It felt like an insane moment having Stuart from Mogwai give a shit about our music, having someone you respect that much even just coming to see us play.”
The band were later invited to support Mogwai on their European tour in 2022. “At that point, a few of us were struggling with how we saw the longevity of bdrmm going,” Smith recalled. “It was before we’d recorded the new album, and it’s hard when you don’t really know how to pace yourself. I think spending so much time with [Mogwai] and all their crew, seeing their relationship after 30 years, made us realise ‘Yeah, this is where we wanna be.’
“It felt like being part of a big family. They asked us to sign for Rock Action after one of the shows. I felt safe in the knowledge that they actually cared about our music and wanted to to help us navigate the path of doing something properly rather than trying to shill us for a couple of quid.”
He continued: “I think Martin [Bulloch, Mogwai drummer] especially told us to take care of the way that the band runs as a whole. It’s alright just trying to enjoy the music, but you also have to be pragmatic. They’re pretty no-nonsense and they’re always so involved with the way that we make music rather than sitting back because it might not work out.”
At this stage, Mogwai aren’t bdrmm’s only major fans. “’Bedroom’ was a lockdown album, so none of us were expecting anything to happen. Then Andy Bell from Ride and Simone Marie Butler from Primal Scream are saying they loved the record, all these brilliant reviews came in from places we’d read for years, like five stars from NME. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Smith. However, he said the group haven’t been feeling any additional pressure. “We were so detached from that, it never really registered and it’s never seemed to weigh us down and make us wary. The main thing is making sure it didn’t affect the way we recorded our music.”
As with their debut album, lead vocalist and Jordan’s brother Ryan Smith has once again drawn deeply from personal experiences for ‘I Don’t Know’’s lyrical content, with new single ‘It’s Just A Bit Of Blood’ concerning mental health awareness and his dealing with anxiety and depression. However, this time around, his brother says, the rest of the band pushed for him for increased ambiguity.
“On the first record, it’s nailed on what the songs are about, but I think the ideas and the themes on this record are much broader, so you can take from it what you will. Me and Alex had a thing where we told Ryan not to use the words ‘you’ or I’, just to make it more about an idea than locking down one person’s point of view. I think that was really refreshing,” he said.
“It’s just more interesting as a listener [when songs are more open to interpretation]. We don’t ever want to make an album you listen to once and think ‘I’ve got everything out of that’ then put it down. I’ve listened to [Radiohead’s] ‘In Rainbows’ since my dad put it on when I was seven and it’s still my favourite album now.”
‘I Don’t Know’ will be released on June 30 via Rock Action. Check out the full tracklist below.
2. ‘Be Careful’
3. ‘It’s Just A Bit Of Blood’
4. ‘We Fall Apart’
5. ‘Advertisement One’
6. ‘Hidden Cinema’
7. ‘Pulling Stitches’
8. ‘A Final Movement’
bdrmm will also be supporting Mogwai at The Garage in London tomorrow (Tuesday February 7). Visit here for tickets and more information.
Meanwhile, their newly-announces UK and Ireland headline tour dates are below. Tickets are on sale from 9am on Wednesday February 8 and will be available here.
Wednesday 28 – Hull – Adelphi
Thursday 29 – Hull – Adelphi
Friday 30 – Leeds – Jumbo Records
Saturday 1 – London – Rough Trade East
Sunday 2 – Brighton – Resident Records
Monday 3 – Bristol – Rough Trade
Tuesday 4 – Nottingham – Rough Trade
Wednesday 5 – Monorail – Glasgow
Friday 12 – Glasgow – Stereo
Monday 13 – Birmingham – The Hare and Hounds
Tuesday 14 – Salford – The White Hotel
Wednesday 15 – Nottingham – Bodega
Thursday 16 – Leeds – Stylus
Saturday 18 – Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach
Sunday 19 – Bristol – Thekla
Monday 20 – London – Scala
Wednesday 22 – Cambridge – Mash
Thursday 23 – Bedford – Esquires
Friday 24 – Brighton – Patterns
Sunday 26 – Dublin – The Button Factory