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The Long Blondes

New Artists for 2006

Jan 01, 2006 Web Exclusive
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Hailing from Sheffield, England, The Long Blondes go on a first name basis only: Kate (lead vocals), Dorian (lead guitar), Emma (guitar and vox), Reenie (bass and vox), and Screech (drums). Mixing jagged guitars and a little dance with their arty garage rock, the Blondes resemble a mellower, female-fronted version of Franz Ferdinand and hark back to Britpop legends Elastica. On the excellent single, “Appropriation (By Any Other Name),” Kate croons like some female modern update of Brian Ferry, then channels Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker when she really wants to open up on “Once and Never Again.”

So far they’ve put out a handful of singles in the U.K.: “Separated By Motorways” in December 2005, “Appropriation (By Any Other Name)” in June 2005, “Giddy Stratospheres” in December 2004, and “New Idols” in June 2004. The band’s only U.S. release thus far has been an EP, Giddy Stratospheres EP, which came out on limited edition vinyl through New York’s What’s Your Rupture? label in June 2005. Having supported Franz Ferdinand on a recent tour, The Long Blondes will play the NME Awards Show in London in February.

Under the Radar: How did the band form?

Screech: We all responded to an advert saying “singers wanted for a barbershop quartet,” but when five of us turned up and it became obvious we couldn’t all sing in harmonies we decided to scrap that idea and do this instead. It never emerged who actually placed the advert.

UTR: What are your full names, or would you rather that be a secret?

Kate: Nope. I am Miss Kate Alexandra Poppy Jackson.

Screech: My full name will go with me to the grave. You’ll be able to see it when it’s engraved on my tombstone.

UTR: Emma, you’ve said that the band name was inspired by all those great ‘40s screen sirens. Where else does that influence show up, if anywhere? Have you ever written a song about a particular actress or character from an old movie, perhaps?

Screech: I love the sense of mystery and enigma that attached itself to stars from that era. If you think about someone like Marlene Dietrich she was so untouchable and out of reach. It’s not a quality you get anymore, and it’s something we’d like to bring back. The less you know, the more you want to find out. The advantage to being a silent movie star is you never have to say a word.

UTR: When do you expect to have an album out? Have you been talking with any big labels?

Kate: We have learnt to expect nothing that is expected. It is expected that we will have an album out in 2006, which probably means we will be starring in our own ITV [a British TV Network] Christmas special come December.

UTR: Your website says, “Never the same review twice, never the same answer,” but how would you describe the sound of your band to someone who’s never heard the band before?

Reenie: A lovely review once said, “The Long Blondes have strutting pop songs that shimmer like the stockings of a Land Girl.” But, as Elvis Costello once said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” We go to great lengths to avoid having to answer this question.

UTR: Can you talk a little about the art direction of the band? How much thought goes into fashion, album cover design, videos, etc.

Reenie: Lot’s of art, not much direction.

Kate: The cover art is mine. Inspired isn’t it? No one paints cover art. But I don’t have graphics software and therefore cannot layer photographs of Reenie’s face to make her look like a Warholian template. It’s too easy anyway. The art is about escaping into a fantasy world where motorways are pink and yellow, and girls live in service stations and read Mills and Boon novels all day. The fact that it’s painted adds to its surreality.

Screech: If you look at some of our favorite bands, from Roxy Music through to The Smiths and Pulp, everything was so important, from the image to the sleeve art. Those Smiths cover photos have become such iconic images, and Roxy Music look like they’ve been sent from another place and time, both the future and the past. I think it’s a lineage we aim to continue.

UTR: What kind of response have you been getting as a result of MySpace?

Reenie: Sycophantic praise, which is rather the point of MySpace.

Screech: Ideally, we’d like to set up a proper fan club and send othandwritten letters and free gifts to all those who’ve supported our cause, but we are currently constrained by time and money.

UTR: Where would you realistically like your band to be in one-year?

Reenie: We’ve been realistic all our lives. Next year we want to be in Japan.

UTR: Do you have any reservations about America?

Screech: Do you mean on a musical level, or socially? I’m not Thom Yorke.

Kate: We’ve been before you know. We had reservations, but only at the Tribeca Grand.

UTR: A lot of indie bands are getting exposure here via commercials and the television show, The O.C. Would you be open to opportunities like that?

Screech: Depends on whether they’d be willing to send us on an all expense’s paid trip to L.A. to actually film the show. And obviously it’d have to be tastefully done. If David Lynch is looking for a band to play in any of his projects we’d be interested. I hear the acoustics in The Roadhouse are fantastic.

Kate: Yes. We could advertise Haribo because we’re sharp but totally sweet.

UTR: Which band’s career path do you most admire and would you most like to model?

Reenie: Longevity is a rare trait nowadays, so there’s a lot to be said for bands like Pulp. It’s also important to know when to bow out gracefully - again, like Pulp. And then re-launch your career as half of a rave duo [Relaxed Muscle] from Doncaster, like Jarvo [Jarvis Cocker].

Screech: I agree. I’ve just finished reading a book about Siouxsie and The Banshees. Though they were lumped in with the whole “punk” scene there was so much more to them than people like The Clash, a lot more subtlety. They weren’t as immediate so it took people a little bit longer to get it, public and record labels alike, but they made much more interesting records than any of the instant hits could manage, and they didn’t run out of ideas after the first few singles. Like Pulp, they’re testament to the power of waiting.

UTR: What are you doing to differentiate yourselves from all the other new bands out there?

Reenie: We most likely differentiate ourselves by the fact we are certainly not new. We are older and wiser.

UTR: When you become more popular, what will you predict will become the biggest misconception about the band?

Screech: I think it’s fun to play up to people’s misconceptions about you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to [U.K. clothing chain] Topshop to raid the sale rail before the good stuff gets taken.

Kate: Sex scandals.

UTR: If you had to choose, would you rather have wealth and fame, or the respect of your peers?

Reenie: With enough wealth and fame, we could buy the respect of our peers. Or buy new peers.

Screech: The respect of wealthy and famous peers.

UTR: What’s the one thing you won’t do to help further the success of the band?

Kate: Get “styled” and pose for lads mags…oops.

Screech: I would do anything for love, fame and adoration, ‘that’ included.


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April 4th 2019

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