One of our most highly anticipated albums of 2020, Manchester’s The Blinders are edging closer and closer to the release of their second record; Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath. After a rapturous debut release packed full of Orwellian lyrics and political rhetoric, the band have quickly solidified their position is music’s to watch list and our top played list. While their debut, Columbia, borrows a lot from dystopia, with their biggest tune borrowing the title from Huxley’s Brave New World, we were keen to hear what they’d been watching, reading and listening as they worked on their upcoming offering. Providing us with a culture list to enjoy in the run-up to the release on July 17th. Straight from the band, here are the books, films and albums that saw The Blinder’s frontman and guitarist Thomas Haywood, and bassist Charlie McGough, through their days in the studio.
Hitchcock’s Psycho was vital in helping develop the Stay at Home Psychopath character, at least in my mind. It was a song we already had but watching that film kind of cemented who that character was. There’s a lot of parallels between the character I was envisaging and Norman Bates. That film informed a lot of my thinking towards the album from that point onwards.
Steinbeck’s East of Eden was my studio read. The beauty of that work is similarly inspiring. Lazily, you almost feel like such works make you a better writer yourself just by reading them. Maybe they do, in a way.
I find it quite difficult to pinpoint specific albums or books that specifically influenced the album. It wasn’t like we took one book or one album and allowed them to become our bible on this occasion. The key was listening to music or reading books that would improve us as writers as a whole. The great lyricists, the Cohen’s, Dylan’s, Cave’s of this world are the kind of artists you try to absorb. You listen to them and you want to write. You listen to them and you want to write something better than you’ve ever written before. Nick Cave dropped Ghosteen while we were in the studio. It wasn’t until we were out of the studio and you start to hear music with a bit of clarity again that you realise how beautiful some of the songs on that record are.
Not a film, but I watched a lot of Twin Peaks in the studio. Rob Ellis, the producer, introduced me to it. I was hooked on everything about it. The wacky characters and plot. The crazy visuals and unforgettable soundtrack. I even started to comb gel in my hair because of it. Ended up watching a couple of episodes a night without fail, and found myself asleep on the sofa of the living room more times than I’d care to admit… often waking to the sound of the drums being tuned in the room below me. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a wild ride.
I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein during our time in the studio. I’d heard the story told many times through various bastardised forms, but I can’t stress enough just how good the original novel is. Not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t the wave of emotion I felt when it came to finally closing the book. Sidetracking her gripping storytelling, Frankenstein felt more than just a work of fiction, and the dialogue that’s shared between Victor Frankenstein and his creation, the monster, is some of the most stark and sobering thoughts on morality that’s ever been penned.With an alternative title like ‘The Modern Prometheus’, it was always gonna be a great read.
I also vividly remember the song In This Decade, which features on the record, stemming from wordplay around a ‘spirit lamp’ which came up in the book.
It’s hard to remember a specific record during this time, just because everything was so focused around work on the album. Rob, the producer, had a pretty strict policy of no music in the communal areas which I thought was pretty funny. We’re used to having 6 Music on in the background whilst we work but Rob was more of a peace and quiet kind of guy which we respected. I was listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt around this time. Can’t recommend his self-titled record enough. It’s a collection of stripped-back songs, some which appear on his previous records except this time they’re much more minimalistic. It works wonders and lets you tune in to his heavy lyrical style. Some of the stuff on there Dylan would surely have listened to and kicked himself, wishing that he’d written it.
Look out for songs such as Lungs, Waitin’ Around To Die, (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria, and Fare Thee Well Miss Carousel.
Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath is due for release on July 17th, prep yourselves