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Black #5 released one of 2004's strongest debut albums 'Last Few Hours'. If you've been wary of newer rock bands then fear no more as Black #5 successfully take classic rock influences plus bands like Pearl Jam and produce their own sound. Well worth checking out at -

1. What are you currently up to?

At the moment we're really starting to get into touring; now that the album's on general release, we have a reason beyond restlessness and girls to get out there and start taking it to people. So we're snatching what time off we can whenever, and spending as much time as possible just gigging ourselves to death.

We also have a radio session in London with Total Rock that will be recorded as the B side to a single out early next year.

2. Could you take us through some personal highlights of the debut release Last Few Hours?

In all honesty, I think that the highlights have really been individual ones for us all; obviously, there was no huge media fanfare to herald the album, so there was nothing like a release party or Virgin opening its doors at midnight. That's the next album...

So the highlights have all been low-key affairs. I think we pretty much all got a buzz from seeing the CD actually on sale for the first time; it was just great to see it in a rack, on a shelf, near Sabbath. Low-key or not, that's a pretty damn good moment, when you really acknowledge that what you're doing has a purpose after all.

3. How did you come up with the lyrical ideas on the album and how does a song take shape within the band?

Although it sounds really cliche, the lyrics really do come from everyday life - Armies, for example, is just about being stuck in a small town and trying to summon up the courage to leave and do something different. This Petty Trial really is just about the little problems that face us each day.

I think at this stage in our career, being still fairly young, we're very wary of tackling any really big subjects; we'll get to it in time, but truth be told I feel that the small subjects are often microcosms of the bigger things, and they're a lot easier to tackle when they're in a singular, intimate form.

Really, I think most of the lyrics speak for themselves; they're not dumb and obvious, but they are all about something and they're pretty accessible to anyone who wants to take the time.

At the moment, we have no real system for shaping a song within the band - we tend to learn the songs fairly quickly and loosely, and then just play them to death on the road. That way, I think we get a more realistic portrait of what works within the context of the song, and they evolve more naturally and democratically.

Right now, for instance, we have a new song called "Everything's Set In Stone", and we're just playing it over and over, every gig; different position in the set, slightly different speeds. We're all improvising within the song, trying to feel out what's comfortable, what works. And even out of only about half-a-dozen gigs, it's mutated so much, we love it so much more. It's my favourite time for a song, when every time we play it, it gets better.

4. How did the band sign with Headroom Records and also get Pat Grogan as producer?

Well, Headroom were recommended to our manager by a couple of people. They came to see us and it was basically the story of the record label coming up to the band after the gig and saying "we want to sign you." The deal they offered was brilliant, honestly comparable to that of a `big' label, and it was them who got in touch with Pat. We listened to what he'd done before, met and liked him - we also met a number of other producers - and took it from there.

5. How have you built-up the bands profile and what would the band like to have achieved by this time next year?

We've been very lucky in terms of the team that we have working on us. We've got a brilliant management, superb record company backing, a great PR company, an agent who works his socks of, all the things you'd hope for. For ourselves, we've just gone the way pretty much every band does; we've been touring round, most every gig that will actually benefit us, just trying to give every person that comes to see us a couple of good memories and a fun night. Word-of-mouth may not be the fastest way to get a buzz going, but it's worked for hundreds of years and, frankly, it seems like one of the most honest ways we can play the game.

6. What have been the most memorable live shows for you and why?

Aside from the obvious temptation to simply count up how many girls came to say hi afterwards, I think we'd all agree the "Gig in the Park" this summer gone by was fantastic - we played with The Stranglers to about 3,000 people, and it was just a really fantastic day.

7. The highlight(s) and the low point(s) so far for Black #5?

The highlight would pretty much have to be getting the album out; the live shows are what it's all about, but to actually release something real is what we've all been hankering after for years and years. Low points, I think we've been pretty lucky. Of course, there always have been and always will be awful gigs, gigs where you'd quite happily give it all up and become a paperboy. But on the whole, tempting fate aside, we've been incredibly lucky.

8. Describe a typical Black #5 fan

This is actually quite a tricky one. Normally, of course, with the music we play, we'd appeal almost exclusively to rock fans of our own age. But we did a few gigs with Nazareth recently, and we actually got a fantastic response from their fan base too; it seems like everyone sees something different in us. We've had middle-aged housewives buying the album for "Madeleine", and at least one ten- year-old hijacking their elder brother's copy. So I'm not actually sure we have a 'typical' fan. In fact, I would describe all our fans as 'atypical'.

9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

We're all keen scuba divers and extreme ironers. Except that's a lie. We all share a good deal of our downtime together, just hanging out. But individually we all have our own interests too, of course. I spend a good deal of my time reading, Dale loves the technical aspect of things and does a lot of work for PA and audio companies, Neil is the wanderer among us, and Dave loves to paint. Looking at it like that, we're actually a pretty well-rounded band. Of course, we still spend most of our time watching TV, sitting in vans or talking bollocks.

10. Message to your fans?

We were asked to send a message about a year ago, and all we could come up with was something on the lines of "We're going to give it a shot; we ask that you come with us, and we won't forget you". Now it looks like we actually might do something with this chance, but the message is basically the same...

To all those who have been with us, who are just joining us now, we thank you and love you, and we will not forget.


Interview © 2005 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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