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This Is How blanket’s ‘Modern Escapism’ Perfectly Captures The Uncertainty Of Today’s Society

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 19 October 2021 at 16.54

"blanket is a band that will continue for years because we all need it in our lives" - Bobby Pook

blanket have just released their new album 'Modern Escapism' via Music For Nations.

An expansion and exploration of sounds and styles the band haven't previously touched as much as an account on the state of the modern world's relationship with technology, communication and connection, it's a stunningly bleak and beautifully dystopian tapestry of noise. Dense, delirious and darkly decadent, it's a stunning next step in the story of a band that has the potential and push to be whoever and whatever they want to be.

To dive in-between the cracks, we sat down with guitarist Bobby Pook and drummer Aiden Baldwin for a lovely chat...

Where was the first moment when you started to discuss what ‘Modern Escapism’ would look like? Coming off the back of 2018's ‘How To Let Go’, how did it begin to take shape?
Bobby: "It was a completely sudden change. We released ‘How To Let Go’ and learned a lot off the back of that, especially in terms of being signed to a major label, and it is the opposite of the DIY world that we were all used to. Then Steve, our old drummer, decided that he needed to leave to focus on other parts of his life. I’ve known Aiden for over 15 years now, we used to play around the North West in our separate bands in this lovely little scene, and we had spoken here and there throughout the years. But I asked if he fancied joining the band. It’s important to note that we wrote about 40 songs that were completely not like this album in the slightest at all as well. So when I was talking to Aiden, I was like, ‘I don’t know if what we have feels like what we want. Let’s see what happens when we write’."

Aiden: "I quickly noticed how the rest of the guys changed how they were playing to suit who I am as a drummer because I plat very different from how Steve did. I think that’s what brought out some of the new tunes and fleshed out some of the old ideas that probably weren’t considered blanket at the time."

Bobby: "The thing is we never really got accepted by the post-rock world that ‘How To Let Go’ sounded like, maybe because we weren’t post-rocky enough. We were the weird band that wasn’t taken on by any real scene, but we enjoyed what we wrote and cracked on. Then when we decided to do something that felt a bit more mental, things started to slot in. We probably wrote this album in about three months after that, didn't we?"

Aiden: "Yeah, around that."

Bobby: "So it was lockdown at this point, so we were sending over files with basic drum tracks on over to Aiden, where he would then make his own tracks. He would send it back, and we would re-record our guitars to fit in with what he was playing and working other things in and around that."

Aiden: "The surprising thing was that when we were then out of lockdown, we had all the song ideas and the structure of an album put together already. We got into the rehearsal room together for the first time properly as a group, and that’s when it all felt like it clicked. Because we had spent so much time going back and forth, it was all already in place."

Bobby: "When you look at each other in the eye over the sound of a riff and say, ‘Fuck yeah, that’s amazing’, you can’t get that feeling when you’re sending things back and forth over computers. So when that happens, it reminds you why you do this."

That validation is always nice, even if you already felt like it was working a little bit. But it must cement that you’re in the right direction…
Bobby: "I think that’s how we had felt with the songs we had written beforehand, but we weren’t connecting with them. blanket is the sort of band that can go anywhere, I think, though. We’re already looking ahead to what could be next, and we would love to do something heavier or something completely different, and that feels exciting."

It’s interesting that the record's subject matter, the dependency on technology and its effect on us, was very much in practice at the beginning of the process. But then the humanity of being in the same room brought it all together. Were the circumstances you were in a part of the influence for that?
Bobby: "We had a discussion one night about the sound of the record and where the lyrics were coming from. I remember Simon [Morgan, Guitarist] saying something about the little dopamine hits that people get addicted to with social media. It went on from there."

Aiden: "And those hits then make you do things that you probably wouldn’t have done normally as a reaction. They guide you in a specific way."

Bobby: "And how people don’t show off all the shit stuff alongside the good stuff. You are given a portrayal of someone’s life when you see it online. I like to think that the actual lyrics we wrote come across as quite creepy and weird. Mixed in with the brutalist architecture of the artwork and the videos, it’s a means of looking through different people’s windows and lens and seeing what that’s like. Like, imagine telling people 15 years ago that you would be able to look at everybody else’s life through your phone.  It would be a crazy thought, but we’ve all adapted to it now. But you’ve got to question it. It’s not criticising anything at all. It’s purely an observation of what’s going on around us and how strange it has become."

Even in the way that we consume music and the way bands are perceived. And when you’ve been a part of all of that for so long in some form, to then be trying to release your art in this new space is always going to affect you…
Bobby: "It goes through to how you release your videos, how your post your updates, how you portray yourselves. We all come from that DIY background, so we have had to adapt to the times as much as anything else."

Aiden: "Though you look at where we were back then, practising in spaces that were slowly filling with water, and then you look at someone like Billie Eilish making a multi-platinum selling album from her bedroom. It’s crazy, but it’s still very much DIY."

Bobby: "Things have gone back to that way of thinking now, and that’s cool to see. If you wanted a professional sounding record all those years ago, you would be paying so much money. Now you can learn on YouTube for free. A lot of artists do singles now, which is still strange for us as album guys. But it’s within that I’m glad that people are enjoying what we are making and reacting to it because it makes our decisions feel right."

Within all of this and your musical journeys, what does it mean to have blanket there as an outlet in which you can create absolutely anything you want with?
Aiden: "The outlet side of things is the biggest part of it for me. I had a period where I was ill, and I couldn’t play for so long, and it crushes you. Then as soon as you get to do it again, the feeling is something else. When Bobby and I first had the conversation about joining, I sat in a room and learned the first album for two weeks and ten hours a day. Even that was the best thing ever. So when you’re able to create something of your own, and it’s something you can then go into a shop and buy, I don’t think you can put a measure on how good that feels."

Bobby: "blanket is a band that will continue for years because we all need it in our lives. We will be doing this because we like doing it. We work our jobs in the day to fund the chance to do this at night because it’s what we need. And I now everybody feels the same about that.”

'Modern Escapism' is out now via Music For Nations.

The band will be playing two special album release shows next month:


17 - LONDON Shacklewell Arms
20 - MANCHESTER Night People

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