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Interview With Black Water County

I was lucky enough to get to meet four fifths of Black County Water prior to their recent show at Leeds Key Club (Read our review here). Why only four fifths? No-one had the slightest clue where Gavin was, which seems a brave move on his part as kazoo karaoke wasn’t far off (it will make sense, I promise!).

So Brand new album, singles are out, you’re on a tour, how are you feeling?

Tim (Harris) – Good, because the last album that we tried to launch, we did like our big, hometown album launch show and then covid hit, like it was the last weekend people had and all the runs of dates that we had booked across the UK and Europe, we just had to completely mix them all, so to finally be able to tour an album again feels just amazing.

Shan (Byron) - It’s a lot better than that!

So you’re not selling it enough Tim? Tim laughed.

How is the tour going?

Bradley (H-Clarke) – Amazing so far.

Shan – We’re just over half way.

Bradley - We’ve done our first sort of leg now, we have a few more local shows, we’re still quite a way from home, further down south, this is like the northern leg just now. Leeds tonight, Newcastle tomorrow then we’re up to Glasgow, it’s our first time doing a headline show in Scotland. Which will be cool.

You might tell from the accent I’m originally from Scotland but I haven’t lived there for a while. Where is it you play in Glasgow?

Tim – We’re playing Audio, the only Scotland gig prior to that was Belladrum.

You played Belladrum?

Tim – That was a great gig, we drove like 18 hours to get there and as soon as we arrived the clutch on our van died…. Superlative!

Shan – We left the van there!

Tim – We had to stay there and drink for the night, it was really something.

Yeah, cause I can tell you don’t drink obviously (there may have been one of two drinks in hand which caused a laugh).

Ollie (Beaton) – The recovery company that came to take a look at the van said there’s nothing I can do and drove off.

That sounds about right in the Highlands.

Ollie – Then we found a whisky distiller

That also sounds about right in the Highlands as well. People can be a bit more relaxed up there.

Shan – We can’t wait to go back for obvious reasons.

Glasgow’s a bit different to the Highlands but it’s still a warm and welcoming city, are you staying up there?

Bradley – No we’re driving back down after the gig, staying somewhere like Manchester.

Shan – We thought we’d do part of the drive as we’re all as far south as you can get basically.

Tim – With music being like it is these days we all work as well.

I get that.

Bradley – Back for Monday.

I know the feeling, I’m working tomorrow.

Shan – It is a school night tonight isn’t it?

It’s a school night but it’s a Thursday night so people will be up for it, it’s almost the weekend.

Shan – It ain’t no Wednesday, it’s tipping over into the weekend.

Have you played here before?

Bradley - No, not here, we’ve played Leeds before, at the Lending Rooms.

Shan – I think we’ve also done some support in Leeds here and there.

Bradley – Looking at Tim - that’s when you wore a party hat and turned into unicorn halfway through the gig.

Sounds like there’s a story?

Bradley – It was Ollie’s Birthday.

Tim – Occasionally when you’re playing someone will throw something onto the stage. A garment at you and insist that you wear it. It was a really stereotypical pointy party heart with the elastic to hold it on your head. I put it on as asked and about half way through the first song it just slid further and further down my face, until eventually it was right in front of my eyes.

Shan – He didn’t have any hands as he was playing bass so it was there for the whole song.

Ollie – It was like there was this rhino….

Did you take it off at the end of the song?

Tim – I had to, I was starting to hyperventilate!

So you think the same thing is going to happen tonight then?

Tim – Hopefully not!

Ollie – Well if you have a party hat…

Bradley – Well we have the kazoos backstage, we’ll do a warm up with them.


Tim – We like to play a game called Kazooke where you have to do a song on the kazoo and everyone has to guess what you’re doing and some of us are better at it than others

When you say that you obviously think you're quite good at it?

Tim – I would like to think that!

It was the way you said that, there was a little bit of a boast.

Tim - That’s kind of how I am. Fake it to you make it….

The album, hows it going? Is is selling well.

Bradley – Pretty well, it’s been very well received, everyone seems to have taken to it.

Shan - It’s definitely the best thing we’ve ever put out there in terms of statistics and stuff, people seem to be digging it. Lots of nice comments, we’ve tried to throw all our eggs in one basket. We’ve put a lot of effort into this. We’ve tried to play the game, as it were, but in our own way.

Tim – I think it’s also one of those albums like that it’s close enough to material we’ve done before that it hopefully brings older fans back into the fold but it’s also an evolution of the sound to the point that if you haven’t heard us before we hope you’re going oh, this is really cool, we’re trying to get the best of both worlds.

What are you looking forward to tonight, what is it you enjoy most about gigging?

Bradley – I liked the feeling right at the end when, hopefully, I’ve done a really good job and you get to mingle with people.

Ollie – Depends if we have to get our stuff off stage quickly.

Shan - #disco loan-out.

Tim – Whenever we do got to mingle it feels really good, like a connection.

Shan – I think I can speak for all of us, gigging is great, gigging is really great but we all are anxious beings, we get nervous about it so pardon us if we’re not all gigging is awesome. It actually is but the actual playing is also terrifying.

It probably doesn’t help when someone sits you down and hour and a half before you go on and starts asking you questions (There was general laughter).

Ollie – I think we have imposter syndrome, pretty bad. Everyone we speak to backstage, in bands, everyone goes through the same stuff.

Tim – Especially when you’re doing new material too, there’s always that bit in the back of your mind of am I going to play this right? But you get up, you know it and you play it and it’s all good.

Ollie – Or it’s completely wrong!

Tim - We have fun doing it and that’s the important thing, I learned songs very slowly, the fans tend to learn them quicker, we have some very loyal fans who are good like that. The fans come back again and again, one of the good things about this northern leg of the tour is, being a southern band, there’s people who don’t get to see you for months and months and then come back and you see them again and it’s like you saw each other yesterday. The going around the country seeing old friends, it’s probably one of the best parts about it. Festivals are really good for that, you often see the same crowd at a festival or it’s the people running it, you build relationships. You get this really nice community/family thing going on.

Have you got any festivals lined up or are you not allowed to talk about it?

Bradley – Of the ones that have been announced so far we’ve got Northern Kin, I’m sure that's been announced. We also have Cursus which is a small southern festival. But in terms of what we can talk about now there’s not a huge amount.

I’m just trying for an exclusive.

Shan – Well we haven’t posted about it but we’re going to Europe in March. We’re going to do a bit of a St Paddy’s jaunt because we like that time of year. It’s good for us and we enjoy it.

Bradley – We’re very good friends with a Dutch band called Drunken Dolly who are a bit similar to us. So they are hosting us for a bit so we’ll go do some co-headliners in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, maybe one in Germany

Shan – We’re going to do a jaunt across Germany to Prague then back again.

Ollie – This will be our first full European tour, we’ve done the odd bit but not a full tour. We’ve done festivals and one off who’s but never toured venues before.

Shan – We did do a festival in Belgium, we flew over, did the festival and came back. This time we’re going over in a van and exploring a bit. It’s next level for us, we will do as many gigs in this country as we can until the day we die. We love it, we love the people here, it’s how we cut our teeth, but going over the Europe is next level, the amount of interesting characters you get to meet, you get so welcomed, you get absolutely fed to the brim, food, beer and love, everything, they just go the extra mile.

What’s the plans after this apart from Europe?

Tim – World domination! Other than going back to jobs it’s going to be looking forward to the next tour, it’s going to be probably sooner than we realise getting back to writing again. Just seeing where this takes us, we have thrown a lot of effort and means into launching this album some we’re still at early stages of having it out so we’re looking forward to seeing where it takes us.

Shan – We have the kind of Christmas party in our home town in December.

Tim – Hometown Bournemouth show on the 18th of December, look at me knowing a date.

Shan – Except it’s the 16th….

Tim – I was so sure! I was a teacher so I used to be paid to be confident in what I was saying even if I didn’t really know. As long as the kids believe you that’s the important thing. Shout-Out to any hard working teachers out there but I wasn’t one of them!

Is that why you gave it up?

Tim – It was much too much like hard work but more importantly there was no flexibility in it and not being able to go to gigs, like the Monday after you come back from a tour and you have a room full of screaming thirteen year olds,

Shan – Now it’s just a screaming me in front of you.

Tim – I would take that any day, I know longer wake up in cold sweats worrying about my marking.

Do you think you bring anything from your day jobs into your music or is it all completely separate?

Tim – I think we bring the angst that our day jobs generate.

Shan – Good point, a lot of the song lyrics are angsty.

Bradley – I’m a graphic designer, some of that does come in.

Ollie - I’ve got OCD and I’m an engineer.

Bradley – You fix the van when it brakes.

Ollie – I double check the cymbals are the right and symmetrical. I also need a strong smoke machine to hide me, it’s on the rider.

So, still some anxiety about tonight’s show?

Shan – No, the adrenaline has now kicked in, one we’re up there and on the stage it’s different.

Ollie – Not any more, I think we’re up for it.

Shan – When we’re on stage, it’s like fuck it, just go for it, it’s a punk mentality and sometimes it’s even better when it goes wrong because you’ve got that fuck it mentality .

Tim – Sometimes you just have to start a song three times over.

Shan- Wait for the improv jazz/rap/hip hop section…..

Having listened to the album I don’t remember that part!

Bradley – When we accidentally go out of time that’s jazz…..

Who is doing the rap?

Tim - That’ll be Shan shouting at us again.

Shan – Sometimes it’s more mumble rap when I forget the words.

Thanks for your time guys, I don’t want to keep you any longer, although I’m more apprehensive about tonight having talked to you than I was before we spoke!

Tim – One of the interesting things about gigs is that no two are the same, there’s always minutiae that vary, for me that’s one of the things that makes live music really cool, you can go and see something you’ve seen ten times before and the eleventh time is different. If someone has come and seen us 10 times then thank you very much

A good note to leave it on, thanks all.

Interview - Iain McClay


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