Birmingham band Blue Nation have been delighting live fans for a while now with their blistering brand of blues rock. After releasing a couple of singles they are set to release a new E.P ‘Echoes’ via all streaming services on 2nd September 2022 and physically on 24th. We put some questions to the trio to find out how it all started and how it’s going.
Give us a potted history of the band
Luke and I met about. 5 years ago through a friend. We knew that we should be in a band together as we went out for a quiet drink after a meeting and it lasted until 7am! At one point in the evening someone came up to us both and said “you two must be in a band”. We took that as a good sign and thought yeah, we are!
Oli has recently come back into Blue Nation as he was in the band when he was a whipper snapper! It has come full circle to be honest as Oli moved to Thailand (due to a girl) many years ago and I was gutted when he left. But, you know, stuff like this always works out doesn’t it. Oli is helping us out as his main band is Saving Grace with Robert Plant & Suzi Dian.
Having recorded an EP last year we have been busy playing shows, festivals and getting back into the life of a band after that 2 year hiatus that hit us all. Not gonna use the C word! It has been a crazy year as in January we won the Introducing Stage at The Great Rock and Blues Fesitval. We were on first and thought, no one will turn up for us and then THREE THOUSAND odd people filled the arena. We played, we spoke to the audience (something we do a lot of!) and they loved it. Luke and I after the show went and got some food and thought. Ahhhh we did our best, it doesn’t matter if we don’t win, then the promotor (Stephen from Solid Entertainments) came over and asked us what we were doing this time next year? Closely followed by, you are playing the MAIN STAGE! YOU WON! We both couldn’t believe it to be honest and just hugged him.
From then on it has taken off to be honest, shows have come from across the country, we have actually been booked for next May! I mean what!!! It’s crazy. The fan base has grown the music has matured and as a band we have taken that next step. It just feels like something it happening it is feels amazing!
Who inspired you to start making music
A lot of things inspire us to be honest. I know Lukes Dad bought him a bass after he watched Quadrophenia and said “I want a bit of that!”He lives by the film and learnt all The Who songs from ear! Myself, I was inspired to play guitar by Ocean Colour Scene. Love them to this day. Them being from Birmingham also helped as I saw them like me, from the same areas and playing the same venues like we did when we started out.
And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically
For me (Neil) it has be Marching Already by OCS or Rubber Soul by the Beatles. You cannot beat them in my opinion. I mean the Beatles just blow my mind on a daily basis so I would have to say them. Rubber Soul is perfect from songs to harmonies to depth it is just a ride. I think Luke would disagree and say Revolver though. Dark Side of the Moon for Luke for sure, he bangs on about Floyd to me all the time. I just don’t get them, thats my fault though as I haven’t really sat down and listened to it intently.
If you’re trying to explain whom you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say
Luke has this down so I will take it from him. “If the Beatles had a baby with Led Zeppelin that baby is Blue Nation. Oh the uncle is The Who and our big brother is the Small Faces”
Tell us about your recent EP
We recorded an EP last year and the main focus behind the it was to take our songs to the next level. We only had one way to do this and that was to work with Trevor Gibson at Circle Recording Studios. Trevor is one of the best in the music industry and my god we were nervous! Trevor has won a Grammy in 2015 created / acted in his film (“Scream For Me Sarajevo”) and to top it all off has done several TEDx event talks! He is also one of the nicest people we have ever met. The song writing for the EP came to us all very quickly, I remember Luke coming up with the riff for ‘I Feel Low’ and ‘Come Back Home’ in one week! ‘Echoes’ fell out of my head one afternoon after I was thinking about a good friend of mine who had passed away.‘The Reason’ was all of us in our studio working the parts out from something we messed about with during sound-checks. When deciding on what to record it was a no brainer, these four tracks stood together and told a story about Loss, Love and belonging to something. We have our own label and everything is on that and we use Ditto to distribute the tunes to the stores and streaming services. Gear wise we used a ton of stuff, Marshall Cabs, Bluesbreakers, Darkglass bass amps, Gibsons, Fenders, Lakland bass. Xylophone and even a clock! Yep we recorded a clock ticking, I actually recorded that with Trev while wearing a poncho. To be fair I am a mean clock player ha ha.
Where can we get hold of it
The first 2 singles (I Feel Low & Come Back Home) are out on all streaming sites now so get downloading, streaming, sharing you name it! We decided against putting all the single on CD as people have had it tough for the last few years and we get so much support we wanted them to have a free streaming account and listen to the music for free. I know that everyone bangs on about streaming is bad for this, that and the other but look…you have to graft. You have to work at what you do and that means, going out doing gigs, working harder than any other band to get to where you want to be. The most successful bands I know are the hardest grafters ever. And also, if you don’t like the streaming sites. Don’t put your music on them, show them that you don’t want to be part of the role they play in the music industry. We will be putting the main EP on CD as mainly the fans have asked us to and want to support us with it which is amazing. We looked at vinyl but that will probably be next year.
Tell us how you write
It’s a mix of different ways really. Sometimes Luke will have a riff or I will have a chorus or one of use will have a full song. The main thing we do though is write it together and each person has a say on what is good, bad and downright rubbish. We haven’t ever struggled with writers block as we don’t put that pressure on ourselves. We did it the other day. Luke started jamming in the studio and 20 mins later we had the bones of a brand new track. It developed and just got bigger and bigger until it was a thing! Making music is bizarre sometimes, I swear someone is playing SIMS up there with us all and drop a song over us and hey presto you have a song. Normally the music comes first for us and then the words and melody, I have written songs when I’m asleep and dreaming but I never remember them when I wake up.
Tell us about your live show and how much have you been missing it recently
Our live shows are full of chat. We don’t stand on stage in shades with leather jackets thinking we are in Wembley. We talk to the audience and include them in the show. What is the point in going to a show and just hearing the tunes and not having any glimpse into the personality of the band. It baffles me. You are probably best asking the people that follow us what one of our shows is like. I tell you know they will say “a load of talking” 🙂 some people think Luke and I script it. Trust me we dont, Luke has some random ones for sure. Some of his best are. What is your favourite dinosaur and his story about his blue Peter badge. Listen to our liveacoustic album to get a flavour“Live From The Front Room – Live” Lockdown was just horrific wasn’t it. Not for just us though, the stand hands, lighting people, sound people, bar staff, venue staff. They are the ones that struggled. At least we could live stream and still sing form the front room. We started Streaming on an a Thursday at 7pm and we are on the 124th Live stream. Not missed a week, New Years Eve, my birthday even when on holiday. You have to give back to people don’t you. It is the least you could do when they buy you music and support you so much.
What can we expect from you in the near future
The EP launch is at the O2 Institute in Birmingham on the 24th of September and is going to be a hell of a gig. Our largest to date so we are a tad nervous to say the least. We are heading out on tour supporting the likes of Chantel McGregor, Laurence Jones, CrowBlackChicken and hopefully making a return to The 100 Club in London which we played a couple of months ago.
Tell us your favourite records that’s rocking your headphones/tour bus/stereo
So I’m going to choose one that Luke and Oli play in the dressing room all the time. Into-Jazz Fusions I and II it is trippy as hell but quality! I have been listening to The Marshall Tucker Band. Its from 1973 but check it out a song called Can’t You See. Really cool vibes.
Check out the bands track Come Back Home, below