This is the first part of a little mini-series ‘Crate Digging’, a summary of some great music found between rummaging about in record shops and my own personal collection. For our first instalment, I’m digging out ‘Champions’ by Blakfish.
First things first, the idea of writing about this band is really difficult. Born out of rehearsal sessions in a comprehensive school local to mine back home, everyone I know knows someone in this band, or at least more about them than I could possibly talk about here. They even nearly played an impromptu set in my backgarden at my 16th birthday party way back when before I was forced to pull the plug (fear of getting shut down by the cops, for one, and also because I didn’t care a lot then for ‘a friend of a friend’s band’).
Maybe throwing all this praise on these guys isn’t worth it: in 2010, in the middle of a European tour supporting Biffy Clyro, they announced their split. Still, from the opening chords of ‘Economics’, Blakfish launch into an eleven-song insight into being a 21st century band: topics include the state of their bank balance (‘Economics’), male fashion (‘Your Hair’s Straight But Your Boyfriend Ain’t’), confusion over entry visas (‘Randy Sage – True American Hero’) and finally, shit TV (‘Scotland’s Worst Invention’). Throughout ‘Champions’, you get the sense that these guys were on a mission to hook you and reel you in.
What really stands out for me here though is the soundtrack these insights are put to. Like their contemporaries Dananananakyroyd and Tubelord, Blakfish presented a perfect blend of pop and indie sensibility contrasted with the technical ability and raw power of obscure metal bands I was otherwise uninterested in. Their past reputation as one of the hardest working live bands in the country certainly shows here too, with the energy through the record unyielding; the interplay between vocalists, frantic.
The fact this band aren’t around anymore is bitter-sweet: the breakup saw three quarters of the group form &U&I, taking the ‘death-pop’ sound of old and giving it a rawer edge, while former frontman Sam Manville now fronts up his new project HYMNS, both worth checking out. In the meantime though, ‘Champions’ is definitely worth a spin just to realise how good this band was. Two new projects might be something good to take from their demise, true, but one thing’s for sure: I bloody wish I’d never pulled that plug at my party.