Please welcome from London… BLiNDNESS !
From left to right: Emma Quick (bass), Debbie Smith (guitar, feedback) and Beth Rettig (vocals, programming)
‘Humming Song’ was the first ever track I heard by the all female three-piece BLiNDNESS.
A slow-moving, shoegaze influenced, menace of powerful drums, fuzzy guitars, dark electro waves, chilly vocals and tons of feedback, all turning louder and more threatening along the way. Fascinating stuff. The responsable noisemakers formed in 2008 and quickly stormed the London live circuit with adrenaline charged shows. Line-up changes and lack of the much-needed studio-budget prevented the group to record their ‘Electro Filth‘ as they describe their sonic havoc themselves. Luckily the problems are all history now and BLiNDNESS finally released their first full length album ‘Wrapped In Plastic’ just a few weeks ago. A mighty work of electrifying wall-of-sound drones (have a listen Phil Spector) enriched with 80s gloomy new wave vibes and 90s nasty electro rock beats. Pounding drums, banging guitars, knockout bass, darkly colored synths and edgy vocals are omnipresent. The final result is an obscured and brutal metallic BLiNDNESS swagger to start and end noisy parties with. Hell Yeah ! But before you start smashing up your neighbour’s ugly chairs let’s chat first with frontwoman and warrior Beth Rettig…
When and were was the band conceived?
“The band started quite a few years back in London. Debbie and I started working together after I approached her at one of her gigs. We’ve had some line up changes between then and now. Emma got in touch with us when we were looking for a new bassist after Kendra left.”
What’s the story behind the group’s name?
“We were originally called ‘Wrapped In Plastic’ but there is another band in the UK with the same name so we had to change ours. Debbie suggested ‘Blindness’, in part because pretty much every time we were talking about bass parts and effects, I always said to think ‘Blindness’ by The Fall. That became a pattern.”
The Fall connection…
When did the band know : “This is it ! This is how we want to sound”?
“I don’t know that there is one moment but if I had to choose one, I think probably the first time Debbie and I recorded together in her living room. We were just getting loads of really good feedback and noise and it just clicked and we pretty much became excited nine-year olds.”
Finally the debut album ‘WRAPPED iN PLASTiC’ has arrived. Why took it so long to accomplish the record ?
“Ha. It has taken a long time. It’s been a combination of things really. No money, line-up changes, finding the right people to work with, bad luck and bad decisions. It’s as much a relief as it is exciting to finally get it out.”
Who or what is wrapped in plastic?
“Wrapped in Plastic is a line from Twin Peaks – right at the beginning. It was our original name and because Kendra and Alex are on the album, despite the line-up changes since, it seemed fitting to reference their time in the band. Partly as a nod to them and partly as a closing of a chapter.”
‘Confessions’ is one of my favorite tracks. A glorious-drones-stroke. Do I hear the stomping intro of ‘Addicted To Love’ by Robert Palmer in there or do I have an ear problem?
“Ha. I don’t think you have a problem. It’s definitely been mentioned before although, certainly wasn’t intentional.”
I had a captivating interview with female London duo ‘deux furieuses’ some time ago. I’ve read somewhere that you’re mutual fans. Are you kindred spirits?
“Possibly. I interviewed Ros for a project earlier this year and it sounds like they’ve had a similar experience of the music industry to us. They’re a great band – great musicians and great people. They recently supported us for our launch gig in July. It’s refreshing to hear a band taking on the world in the way they do.”
Men rule the world since day one and wars are still fought worldwide. Isn’t it about time that women take over?
“Well, I don’t know about taking over but it’s about time they were given more influence than they have. Men and women have different things to bring to the table but both deserve the same respect and same opportunities. The problem now is that that isn’t how it is – on the world stage or in everyday life.”
Did anything change in the right direction for female artists in the testosterone rock world over the years?
“I’m not really sure that it has changed that much, actually. I do think it’s still more of a struggle for women to be respected and taken seriously than it is for men – and some of it comes from fairly surprising places and people. Women in music are still often seen as a novelty. You only need to look at the posters that went round of the last Reading & Leeds festival with the names of all the bands with female members removed to see how unequal the industry still is. I’ve heard about a booking agency turning down one great female act because they already had one. It’s sad and it’s frustrating.”
The band has a strong reputation for playing smoking hot live shows. What’s happening when BliNDNESS step on the podium?
“I’m not sure I can even explain it for me. Something shifts when I step foot on the stage and I don’t feel like it’s something I could consciously replicate. Maybe a mix of adrenaline and nervous energy, I don’t know. I love performing and I usually feel like I manage to exorcise a few of my demons.”
Any band ritual(s) before going on stage?
“I don’t think so really. I guess that’s quite a boring answer but it’s really just down to the stuff you have to do. Having said that, there is something about putting on my boots and eyeliner that gets me ready for war.”
May we expect European concerts in the near future?
“We don’t have anything planned at the moment but we’d love to play in Europe.’
Is playing in a band actually the best job in the world?
“I suppose it depends who you are but, for me? Yeah, it probably is. I wish I’d had the opportunity to do it all day.”
Which album would you steal from your parents’ record collection?
“I didn’t have a good look through my Dad’s collection when I was last over there – He’d just got a new record player and brought his collection out. I’ll have to get back to you on that when I go over this year.”
Artist(s) you definitely like to do a world tour with?
“Nine Inch Nails – a world tour would mean I’d have time to slowly fill up a notebook with tips on programming, production and kit without being too obvious.
EMA – because she’s great.
The Jesus And Mary Chain – so I could watch them regularly and I also could steal some of their pedals.
Talking Heads – because it would mean they’d be back together.
Curve – also because it’d mean they’d be back together and I’d get to see them live, but they can’t have Debbie back (note JL: Curve was an amazing electro rock duo with the cool Toni Halliday. BLiNDNESS’ Debbie Smith played for a while with that band.)
Patti Smith – because she’s one of the coolest people in the world.
Kate Bush – because she wouldn’t tour so I could sleep in my own bed every night.”
If you could travel in time what artist would you jam with?
“Maybe going back to have a play on Kraftwerk’s drum machines would be fun. Either that or going back to the deep south in the 30s to hear people like Robert Johnson play.”
The Jesus & Mary Chain or The Prodigy?
“I like both but The Mary Chain.”
The Slits or Sleater-Kinney?
What’s the band’s ultimate ambition?
“I think we’re going one step at a time at the moment, it took a while to get this album out. We’re keen to get recording again so that’s pretty much our ambition at the moment.”
Thank you for the interview, Beth! May the road rise with BLiNDNESS !
Have a smashing party with ‘Wrapped In Plastic’…
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