Blossoms have had a hell of a year - including a Number One album. Ben Jolley talks to the indie success story of 2016.
We want longevity. We don’t feel like we’ve made it yet…”
Tom Ogden, frontman of indie-pop five-piece Blossoms, is looking back on a “mental” year that’s seen their debut self-titled album top the Official Albums Chart, propelling them around the world – and back again. Unsurprisingly, when Dork calls, they’re not in their Stockport hometown; or in the country at all, for that matter. Instead, Tom is wandering into the centre of Bologna with his bandmates for breakfast.
Blossoms are in Italy for their own headline show, in the middle of a tour which has seen them travel across Europe supporting Nottingham’s boy-done-good, Jake Bugg. “It’s just nice to get out innit,” Tom offers, in his distinctive Manchester twang. “It’s just been non-stop really; we genuinely haven’t stopped,” he continues, pausing for a moment to try and take in the past twelve months. “There’s not one word to sum it up really. It’s been the maddest year of our lives.”
“Mad” is an accurate analysis. “We finished our debut album, released it, then it went to Number One. Then we did all the live shows and like 50 festivals this summer, travelled the world and went to places we never thought we’d go to. We’d go to Cologne and everyone would be singing all the words, then go to America and it’d be the same. It couldn’t have been better really.”
Throughout their stratospheric rise, Blossoms have received their fair share of ‘odd’ gifts from fans. “In places like Japan, you get the maddest things: Kit Kats with our heads on them and people printing off Myles’ face and wearing it as a mask. We’ve had some Russian fan-fiction, as well, which was pretty odd. That’s definitely the weirdest we’ve had…”
Headlining The Plaza in Stockport the night the album came out was a particularly special moment from the year 2016. “We played the full album in track order, which was fun. It meant a lot more because it was in a place where we had grown up watching plays, and we got to do a gig there...”
Being invited to perform on Later… with Jools Holland was another “surreal” milestone. “It was cool and kind of surreal because you’ve grown up watching people like Iggy Pop on there. It’s just kind of mad.”
Making a piece of work that “we’re dead proud of” takes the crown, though. When ‘Blossoms’ got to the Number One spot, the band were playing Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, Cornwall. “Our managers were there and a few other people who are close to the band,” he recalls. “We had a few glasses of champagne, but then we were off to Romania the next day!”
Although it was undoubtedly the cherry on the top of their 2016 - having only formed in 2013 - Tom says “it’s not the be all and end all”, referring to topping the chart. “We’re just happy that the fans like going out and getting guitar music back in there,” he adds, nearing the end of an unexpectedly great twelve months.
Blossoms have barely had a moment to breathe, let alone reflect on their whirlwind year. “You’re that busy, you don’t really have time to take it in; you go from place to place and it’s just non-stop touring… We just want to keep writing and focusing on the future, but we are enjoying it obviously.”
Although there aren’t any concrete plans for a second album just yet, that’s not to say Tom, along with his band members Charlie Salt (bass/backing vocals), Josh Dewhurst (lead guitar/percussion), Joe Donovan (drums) and Myles Kellock (keyboards/synthesiser/backing vocals) haven’t been outlining new music… when they can, at least.
“We’ve done a couple of demos; nothing serious yet, but we’re putting the feelers out there and getting the ball rolling,” Tom says; “because you’ve got to stay on top of it, haven’t you? Obviously, it’s harder when you’ve not got enough time to yourself because you are travelling about,” he concedes, confirming that – as one would imagine – “tour buses aren’t the most creative of places.”
Though every time Tom gets to go back home, he tries to write. “I’ve got a collection going and I keep adding to it, because when it comes to doing the next record we’ll have a lot of different tracks to look at and pick from.”
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But, are Blossoms feeling the ‘difficult second album’ nerves? “I think you’d be daft if you didn’t feel any pressure at all because you’d become complacent,” Tom contemplates. “You’d think, ‘Everyone knows us, we’ve made it’ - but we don’t feel like that; I’m not really like that, I’m more realistic.
“I know that eyes are going to be on us but the best bands always rise to it,” he adds, with a sense of defiance and determination gleaming through his Stockport accent. “The pressure’s not enough to make you unhappy; it’s more a healthy amount to drive you on. If you didn’t have it, you’d think something was wrong.”
Although he’s right to say that eyes are on Blossoms’ next move, Tom insists that they’re not going to be rushing anything out. “We’ll do it when we feel like we’ve got something that we’re dead proud of again,” he begins. “We’ve made our mark now, so we just want to do the same thing again, the second time.
“When it becomes contrived, that’s when it doesn’t work. Everything we’ve ever done has been a natural evolution of the band just growing and going with what we’re feeling; what songs we like at the time. There have never been any rules to what we make…”
Before their second album, though, there’s the small matter of another massive UK tour. Following the release of the extended edition of their debut; adding an extra ten tracks into the collection, Tom says fans can expect to hear a lot more of the B-sides and longer sets during the thirteen-date run.
“It’s just five mates ‘avin it on stage… with cool lights. We’ve never been one to do choreographed dance moves or anything like that,” Tom laughs, referring to their no-frills live shows. “People who are coming to the gig know what they’re getting. No one’s gonna come and be like, ‘Fuckin’ hell, I wasn’t expecting that!’ It’s underwhelming, but you’re not watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show…”