Prior to lockdown earlier this year South London based group Blue Bendy only had two tracks officially released. However, they had already performed alongside some of the biggest new names in music, including Squid, Omni and Drahla. Just as the hype was beginning to build, they found themselves among the millions confined to their homes, completely cut off from the live scene. We caught up with the band’s guitarist Joe Nash before the release of their newest single ‘International’ to see how they coped, and what lessons they thought had come out of isolation.
RC: Hi Blue Bendy! What’s the story behind your latest track ‘International’ and how do you think it represents a new stage in your music?
JN: I would say it’s definitely a newer direction than from when we formed and our first two singles. Before the first lockdown this year we were doing lots of demoing and recording in a studio which we’ve never really had the chance to do before. It’s given us a lot more time and space to work with synths and recording hardware. We’ve been able to really pick apart songs for their structures and arrangements before recording them.
RC: Your new single is the first ever release on Simonie Records, founded by band member Joe Nash. What led you to the decision to found your own label, and what are your intentions going forwards?
JN: It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so like most people during lockdown I thought “there’s not going to be a better time than this” so Grace and myself decided to start Simonie. Like most people, the band had various plans scuppered due to COVID in terms of releasing new music; so the starting of a label and having music ready to go out from Blue Bendy seemed to be a perfect match.
Going forward we’ll be releasing music by different artists as well as Blue Bendy, with new projects currently underway. I’m surprised how much interest there’s already been. We’d like to be a home for anything that’s a bit out there or leftfield, especially more electronic skewed music, with a big focus on the audiovisual aspect and trying to do something new and interesting.
RC: In what ways do you think being separated from the live aspect of music for the past months has affected your approach to song writing?
JN: Under the strictest lockdown measures we weren’t able to even see each other at all in person. Arthur got much more into demoing ideas of tracks into Garage Band and sharing them amongst us online, whereas normally we’d just do everything from square 1 in a live practice space. It’s been difficult but I personally think without any focus being drawn to playing live, we’ve ended up with some of our best songs now.
RC: What aspects of live music are you most excited to return to?
JN: We actually managed to play a gig during the brief respite between lockdowns where venues were able to operate socially distanced shows. There’s a nervy excitement you carry all through the day when you have a gig that night, which is something I miss. Mostly though just being with the band I would say, we’re six close friends at the end of the day and when all of us are together post soundcheck and pre show, it’s a lot of fun.
RC: Which bands have been dominating Blue Bendy’s speakers over the lockdown period?
JN: For me personally, the I’ve really been enjoying is from Jockstrap, Kelly Lee Owens and Shanti Celeste. The recent releases from Legss and Tiña have been great too.
RC: Earlier this year you contributed to the charity compilation ‘Group Therapy Vol. 1’, raising funds for The Music Venues Trust and NHS Charities Together alongside many of the most exciting bands of the current scene.
Clearly independent venues were important in shaping you as a band, which would you consider most important in your musical formation and why?
JC: Far and out this would have been The Five Bells at the bottom of The Old Kent Road (RIP). When we formed, we started to practice once a week in the room above the pub for £5 an hour with all the equipment included. We played there a lot, too much probably, some of our best gigs and certainly some of our worst. We used to run our own night where we’d take donations on the door for Lewisham Food Bank which were always a good night.
The stress in running an independent venue must be terrible, every day seems like a fight for your life, especially in London where every square inch of space is eyed for development and business rates are sky high. Places like The Windmill, The Birds Nest, Venue MOT and The Fox & Firkin in South London alone need all the help they can get. Go to a gig and buy some drinks when all of this is finally over.
Finally, if you could collaborate with any musician live or dead, who would it be and why?
JC: Maybe the late Ennio Morricone. As a complete vanity, I’d love to hear our tracks arranged with strings, woodwind and horns. There’s no chance we’d be able to pull off an orchestral arrangement around one of our own tracks especially in an intricate and dynamic way like he could. He had a real love for analogue synths and was good at incorporating weird stuff like vocoders and guitar effects into what might typically have been a classical arrangement.
You can check out Blue Bendy’s latest single ‘International’ here.
All photos by Rhi Harper, sourced via.