Beautiful Freaks is putting on a gig in Oxford this week! On Thursday the 26th, you can come down to The Library Pub and see three wonderful bands play: Rainbow Reservoir, Deerful, and headliners Blue House. To get everyone extra excited we’ve asked James from Blue House a couple of questions about the band and their recent debut album, Suppose. If we correctly understand the answers, they might even debut a new song or two at the Oxford gig!
Both of you were previously in different groups; How did the idea of Blue House come about?
We talked about doing something together for a while and ending up living together in a 7 person house of musicians in Brixton. There was really no reason not to at that point.
Is there any significance to your band name?
Yes, but what it is I’m not sure I could tell you.
You’ve released your debut album last year – how’s that been?
It’s been good – without a penny of a marketing budget to go on I’m happy with who is listening to it and how they’re listening to it, and how it was received by press and radio.
Are you already brooding on a follow-up? I’ve heard there might even be some new songs at your upcoming Oxford gig?
We may or may not have actually recorded it already. If we had, it might sit somewhere between a sci-fi soundtrack and a local bar band in some almost-ghost town in somebody’s imagination of AMERICA. So if any of that’s true, we might air one or two of the tracks in Oxford indeed.
The overall style of Suppose is hard to define – sometimes it’s country-esque, other times very 80s indie inspired. How would you describe your sound?
Without trying to be deliberately difficult, whenever someone asks me that (true story) I get a penny whistle out of my pocket and blow it whilst running away backward as fast as possible. We’re not genre-defying, that’s almost an oxymoron these days. We just get together, write and record the music, and if it’s good, it’s good.
One of the most touching songs on the record is about the death of David Bowie? Where were you when you first heard about his death, and how has it affected you?
I don’t remember where I was, but rather than join in the collective outpouring (which of course made sense) I listened to the entire discography and just enjoyed the man and the music. The death of a public hero is quite an odd thing to contend with — when Cohen died I wasn’t exactly “sad”, more relieved that he’d made the work that he had. When I heard that Mark Fisher died recently I was a lot more disheartened because, in all selfishness, I wish there’d be more of his work in the world; I’m still thinking of that every day at the moment.
Apart from the David Bowie one, are many of your lyrics inspired by events from ‘real life’ or are they mainly fictional?
I think your use of quotes around ‘real life’ is telling. I don’t strictly consider the songwriter’s role as a maker of accurate re-packagings of events – you can lie as much as you want, pilfer IRL here and there – it’s the internal logic, or atmosphere, of the song, that has to be ‘true’, and the closer you get to defining exactly how that works the further away you suddenly find yourself. In other words, don’t worry about it. If it’s real, it‘ll let you know.
What other music inspires you? And what inspires you outside of music (e.g. books, films, friends)?
Rather than frame it as inspiration, I’ll just tell you the last of each of those: I’ve just been listening to Chris Cohen, the book I’m reading is a graphic novel about Woody Guthrie and this evening I’m going to watch Lunch Money and Bison Bonasus with (amongst others) my friend Nick Barrett, who is an excellent artist and guitar player. Actually in all honesty friends are essential to what we do, whether it’s them playing on records or pushing us to make better work because we’re in awe of theirs. Or observing them and stealing bits of their lives for songs
Thank you! Looking forward to seeing you play on Thursday.
-- Beautiful Freaks, January 21, 2017