It was announced today that Blossoms have the biggest selling UK debut album of 2016 beating Zayn and Jack Garratt. Considering Garratt had the Brit's Critics Choice exposure and Zayn had One Direction fame, that's some mean feat for a band who were fairly unknown before their BBC Sound of 2016 mention. It’s also pleasing to see a guitar band in the vein of Oasis, The Smiths with neat hooks and romantic melancholy songs taking on more commercial sounding chart pop.
But for Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods, Blossoms are the epitome of mainstream. In an interview with Gigwise this autumn, Williamson stated: “There’s no difference between that band and, say, Katy Perry from where I’m stood. It’s just a couple of years playing smallish venues then bang everything’s rinsed with advertisements power of marketing steps in."
Ogden, who is speaking to Gigwise after playing 50 festivals around Europe in the summer and selling out intimate venues on the other side fo the pond, laughs as I read out Williamson’s comments.
“Katy Perry’s fucking massive so it doesn’t really bother me," he quips. “He doesn’t want to be my band I don’t want to be his band. We’re not talking out of the same breath. He knows fuck all about where we’ve come from. He probably think they’ve just been picked up and they’ve got ghost writers. We’re not like that at all. I wrote every song on that album on my own with no third party. The label got involved last minute with us. We were selling out the Ritz in Manchester before we had a record deal. We built up a fanbase and we wanted to get to that next level. We didn’t want to be an underground band, we wanted to be absolutely massive, so..."
Reflecting on how it was possible for musical heroes like Oasis, who manged to get huge on the indie label Creation Records and become massive, Ogden feels like it’s a no longer a feasible route for band with the ambition of Blossoms. “It’s a different kind of industry now. You could break through on word of mouth back then. Now I don’t think you can get to these days with the internet world.”
Another factor that played into their commercial success – other than their full embrace of pop was pirkcing the right producer early on.
When they first started out they were seen in matching turtle necks and looked like Heavenly Records next big thing after Temples but sounded like a cross between The Coral and Arctic Monkeys – they could quite easily have been a much-loved but little known guitar band. Ironically, in 2014 when James Skelly first produced them, they put out some releases on his Skeleton Key Records and they started to sound less like The Coral and much more like themselves.
“When we went into record with James Skelly he introduced us to some sounds that suited our influences. We were a young band and didn’t really know what keyboard sounds were and were just using a Hammond organ sound,” he laughs. So now most things have stayed the same as when we were starting out but getting rid of the organ and producing the keyboard sound to suit an '80s pop style changed things up massively, which is why you will have noticed a shift from the earliest EP.
Once these James Skelly produced recordings got out into the hands of radio presenters over a year ago, they’ve not left their playlists. They’ve been a-listed on BBC Radio 1, 2 and 6 and they’ve been a constant presence form indie clubs, to builders yards. There’s not many bands that have that broad of an appeal and Ogden praises the work radio has done in “. The main thing that gets you across to a big audience is radio backing. You want that longevity.”
The following that’s blossomed as a result of the combination of working out the right sound, getting Skelly involved, having this radio support, and touring relentlessly has meant that their gigs have become mass sing-a-longs. Bucket hat adorning fans who haven’t properly adored a band since The Stone Roses feeling like they have something to believe in again.
And it’s the story of normal working class boys like many classic northern British guitar bands before them that has captured the imagination of a lot of people. “Stockport! Stockport! Stockport!" is heard being chanted out by crowds as much as the word Blossoms at times. They’re guys together, a band cobbled together from failed school bands.
Ogeden explains exactly how they all first came on board: “Joe the drummer and I have been friends since we were 12 at school. He came to watch my band and he eventually joined the band when he was a bit older. It was the year before Blossoms, 2012. That’s how we met Charlie. Joe was in a band with Charlie and we got unsatisfied with bands we were in as we weren’t rehearsing enough and Charlie had access to his Grandad’s scaffolding yard so the three of us holed up there and I had these new songs I was writing and I didn’t think they suited my other band so then I was like right let’s get this together. We needed a guitarist, so we got Josh in. Joe used to go out with Josh’s sister a couple years before and Josh is a bit younger than us. I gave Josh’s first band their first gig and I had seen he was a great guitarist. So it was us four for half a year and then Myles joined in on keys later on.”
Blossoms have certainly come a long way since cutting about on a scaffolding yard and there’s no guessing how huge they’ll become soon. One things certain, though Ogden is a prolific, natural songwriter. “I’m always writing. I’ll have about 30 songs ready to take to the studio soon for the second album. There’s a lot of gigs booked before that, though.” The gigs being an opportunity for the fans to build up the sing-a-longs to the euphoric choruses, forget it’s a school night, and celebrate a band who, for so many, have defined their 2016.
Blossoms will be touring hits from their debut album and hopefully some news ones from demo’s in 2017. Check here for more information.