The debut single from 'Mancunian Americana' five-piece Blind Atlas has been out for a couple of months now. Limited edition CD copies are still available in Piccadilly Records (including by mail order) and in Kingbee Records. And last month it was finally released on iTunes too. 'Take A While' is a great woozy slice of classic alt-country "designed to soundtrack long, whisky-addled nights of anguished soul-searching". But in a good way; a very good way.
But this song is only part of the Blind Atlas story. The last live performance I saw of theirs (supporting The Acorn), they finished with an extraordinary song called 'Ironwall' featuring tribal drums, dark incantations and bowed electric bass - spooky-as-hell and a world away from the laconic country-rock of other songs. So to get more of an insight into the influences and workings of Blind Atlas I threw a few questions in the direction of Ross, Cam, Pete, Crhis and Adam:
“Hailing from Denver, Colorado and disparate points around the UK” How did you all come to be making music in Manchester?
Cam Ross was living in Boston and getting disillusioned with the 'Boston scene'. He had some friends living in Manchester who recommended for him to come over to Manchester as it has such a great reputation for making good music. After a few months checking out bands, he met Adam and myself in 'The Bar' in Chorlton. Adam was wearing his Flying Burrito Brothers T-Shirt and we got talking...
Ross We got together for some jam sessions and really liked what we were doing.
Adam So we decided we had to start a band. We find Chris a little while later, he was looking for a band and was checking out the notice board where Cam and I worked. He fitted in straight away.
Ross Pete was next. He was in Walton Hesse who we all liked and we invited him to play on a track, and again, it was great because we just clicked. So he had no choice but to join us.
“Ryan Adams fronting The Black Keys” is one of many comparisons thrown around. Who are your real musical influences? And do they differ amongst the band?
Chris The Doors, Radiohead and the Terminator theme have really influenced me. I'm into a wide range of music and really enjoy a lot of classical music like Stravinsky.
Pete I come from a more blues rock background. I really enjoy exploring the great bands from the '68 to '74 period like The Stones, Floyd and Zeppelin.
Ross Neil Young, Creedence and the Grateful Dead. There are more I like but I also enjoy contemporary artists like Modest Mouse.
Cam Calexico, Nirvana and Captain Beefheart. I do enjoy the mixing of styles in the band as it means we always find something fresh.
Adam I do believe that every band has one good song no matter what genre. But if I had to chose a few that really influenced me they'd be The Velvet Underground, Fairport Convention and Ride.
How did the hook-up with Christian Madden of The Earlies come about for recording the single?
Ross A lot of people had stated that we're like The Earlies, and we were introduced to their management who setup a meeting with Christian. We really enjoyed working with Christian and his brother Nicky. We're going to record the whole album with them.
Adam They bring out the best in us.
Chris They have a fantastic range of instruments for us to use, like vintage organs.
What should we expect from the debut Blind Atlas album? And how are you financing it?
Adam With our wages, we don't eat much. You do have to make sacrifices to do music. It's hard but hopefully it'll be worth it.
Pete I think people will be surprised by the album. We want it to be the next step.
Ross It's our calling card. You'll hear it, hopefully connect with it and then want to see us live. Because live is where music is at its best. But we do want the album to be of its self and not a direct copy of the live performance.
Cam Hopefully the album will be out early next year. We have to record a little bit each month. This is a process started in October last year.
And what’s the most important lesson being in a band has taught you?
Ross You're only as good as your last gig.
So as well as investing in the single, I'd recommend seeing the band live to really appreciate the breadth and depth of Blind Atlas.
The band play the Baker’s Vaults Stockport on 5 November, are on the bill for the Francis House Benefit night at Sound Control on 19 September and have a couple of tasty support slots coming up too: The Travelling Band at Sound Control on 21 September and Blitzen Trapper at Ruby Lounge on 23 November.