Once upon a time, Blaenavon was just the uncompromisingly spelled name of a town in South East Wales.
Now, the name shares ownership with three boys from Hampshire, who entered the indie-sphere many years ago and are now, finally, becoming a household name.
Hotly anticipated, much awaited first album ‘That’s Your Lot’ emerged last week, an ambitious, and impishly infectious work that builds on those sensational early singles.
Despite this success, though, the trio have managed to keep themselves mysterious. So, here is a little insight into the world of Blaenavon through the eyes of drummer Harris McMillan…
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As a band, you seem to be everywhere yet still under the radar. Can you give us an interesting fact about yourselves?
We once decided that every Monday of tour we’d spend our £10 lunch monies in service station casinos because the only things worth spending money on are useless things. This lasted for one Monday until we decided laughter cannot replace a balanced diet.
What does it feel like to slowly become a household name?
It’s taken five years just to spread through our own houses. Now that our parents’ colleagues are aware of us before our dad boasts to them it is a little odd. We’ve had a long time to get used to it though and it feels like the natural result of playing pretty much every venue in the known universe. We’re not the sorts to get carried away to cloud land with these minor victories. We’ll stop when we’re a palatial name. You’ve been releasing singles from ‘That’s Your Lot’ since last year.
Are there any major changes to any tracks now that they are on one album?
They all make more sense together, unified in their disarray and interspersed with our more experimental doodlings. The recordings remain the same though, we wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone with a new version that might not be as popular as the tried and tested original.
Just joking, ‘Prague ’99’ is waaaay better now that our voices have dropped...
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This album has been five years in the making. How are you all feeling about it now that it’s out in the big bad world?
I don’t think the Blaenavon world is so bad. We’ve been watching it slowly bringing out some really quite delightful traits in our fans. A lot of our people seem to have met through a shared interest in ‘That’s Your Lot’ and ‘Blaenavon’ in general which makes us really smiley and warm. Hopefully they will soon outnumber those who don’t like us.
What are some of the themes behind the album?
Everyone was bursting at their emotional banks once. This is our collection of those important bits. Hopefully it’ll bring some zest to the heart. You can definitely hear strong 90’s indie pop references throughout.
Who were some of your musical inspirations for the making of ‘That’s Your Lot’?
There’s a tinge of Elliott Smith in the song writing and perhaps some Pavement in the performance but made ourselves smile with a light-hearted reference or two when it came to the sound. Is there anyone you’d be interested collaborating with as a band? Interesting you should say! We’re playing in our namesake town May 10th where the Blaenavon Male Voice Choir will be joining us for a couple of ditties.
You’ve got this album recorded on every possible audio format... what are your preferred ways of listening to music?
Normally when somebody shows me a song at a time of great potential I’ll solidify it in wax and stick in on my record player. Your tastes may vary though, so it’s important that you buy it on every possible format just in case.
What are your personal favourite songs on the album?
‘Ode To Joe’ was laid down with the least stress. We had a day left in the studio and we started to record it as somewhat of an afterthought, thinking we’d never complete it. After Jim (producer) had visions of harpsichords and medieval ballrooms we had no choice but to include it.
As there were no preconceptions of how it would fit into the album we had loads of fun with granola shakers and two minute fretless bass solos. Even the second verse was born out of an exquisite corpse dissected in the studio kitchen whilst listening to gothic wailing and sipping on red wine.
How are you feeling about returning to Reading and Leeds this year with the album finally under your belt?
We were amazed with the turnout and the zeal of said turnout last year. I expect this ferocity to have grown tenfold in the wake of our album. Really can’t wait to be torn to shreds by those guys.
What’s the next milestone for Blaenavon?
The long drink of touring the globe whilst imagining the start of another album. Then we can sleep.
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'That's Your Lot' is out now.
Words: Laura Copley