By: Damian Robinson
The Band: The Blockheads
The Blockheads celebrate their 40th anniversary this year and will be heading to the ARC in Stockton as part of their celebratory tour. Damian Robinson caught up with the band to speak about working in the industry for 40 years and how things have changed.
Damian: 40 years in the business, that’s quite an achievement. How do you compare the beginnings of the Blockheads 40 years ago to new bands starting out now?
The Blockheads: The Blockheads were all motivated originally to follow musical paths because of the culture we grew up in throughout the 1960s/70s. Looking back, those two decades were a renaissance in the arts. Film, literature, fashion and music were the mediums that ‘spread the word’ and determined lifestyle back then and now we have TV talent shows and Twitter! Although technology has brought huge benefits and freedoms to musicians, it has also changed the face of the industry in which we thrive. The rout, back then, was to form a band of brothers and hone your fledgling skills in local dance halls and small clubs which were in abundance. Sadly now they have been in steady decline since the advent and progress of the computer age and home entertainment.
Damian: Have there been any standout memories for you across the 40 years?
The Blockheads: Our years with Ian were peppered with incident and outrage in that ‘Incident and Outrage’ were an art form and inspiration to Ian. Risque banter and ‘wide-boy’ wit, often alcohol-fuelled, could quickly lead to contention and confrontation usually resulting in Ian and anyone with him being ejected from the premises. A particular incident comes to mind when our bass player Norman, the artist Peter Blake and Ian were asked to leave a London eatery after an escalating exchange of pleasantries between Ian and Omar Sharif resulting in Ian receiving a black eye from an Omar right hook.
Damian: I’ve always felt like the Blockheads have never received the full credit they deserve for their originality and influence they’ve had on popular culture. I appreciate it’s a difficult question to answer, but would that be a sentiment the band agreed with?
The Blockheads: We received plenty of credit in our ‘glory days’ when we were relevant and our hardcore fan base is still testament to that. Every artist hopes in the back of their minds that what they do can in some way positively influence the decisions and lives of others. The ultimate accolade is to be able to inspire and motivate your peers and contemporaries. I think The Blockheads have done and still do this. That we are constantly working as a creative unit with new songs being written, recorded and released as a must and the enthusiasm for live performance never waning we tend to inspire and influence ourselves these days.
Damian: You’ll be out celebrating your anniversary and bringing the party to Stockton’s ARC on Friday 2nd June. You’re still releasing new material, so what kind of set list can we expect?
The Blockheads: A compromise of old favourites and newer material is always a tricky business when it comes to live performance, but I think we have it right for the moment. A core of old favourites and hits from yesteryear with a smattering of tunes from our current album ‘Same Horse Different Jockey’ and at least one track from our upcoming fortieth anniversary album ‘Beyond The Call of Dury’, to be released in September 2017. There will be something old, something new, nothing borrowed and perhaps something a little blue!
Damian: Any plans for after the 40th celebrations?
The Blockheads: There is some talk of the band going back to Japan next year and maybe even Australia but that remains to be seen and is subject to everyone’s commitments and availability. Organising The Blockheads is like trying to herd cats!
Tickets, priced at £20.00, are available from arconline.co.uk.
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