"After this long break, we’ve felt like we owe it to everyone who has ever given a shit about this band to deliver something on this scale.” - Joe Gosney
Black Peaks are set to premiere their first live show in 18 months tomorrow (April 07).
Filmed in the heart of winter at the height of lockdown, the band took to the stage at the Brighton Centre in their hometown and did what they did best to an empty room.
Visually stunning and sonically punishing, it is the purest strain of Black Peaks that you are going to hear that also serves as a moment of emotional release for the band after a difficult and uncertain couple of years.
We jumped on the phone with guitarist Joe Gosney about how they put the show together and what it means to them...
First of all, it’s so fascinating that your first show back after all of the ups and downs of the last 18 months is in these circumstances…
“It’s pretty weird. I was so stubborn and so against the idea of doing a livestream for a really long time. I assumed that we wouldn’t be able to get the production value or make it sound like we want to, and it would be the same without people there. I had a weirdly negative view of them because I had seen a few where they didn’t do much for me. But then I started to see how people were responding to them and how much people were taking from them, and that’s what pushed us into the camp of doing it. We haven’t done anything in so long, and we were all so desperate to play. If nothing else, it would be a great opportunity for us to do absolutely everything on our terms and put together a show we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. So from being able to put together a setlist that wouldn’t have necessarily worked elsewhere to the lighting, let’s put on a show. I think we hope that because of that, people can get something out of this and feel connected to something.”
So within the discussions, where did this particular venue come in? What was it about doing it at The Brighton Centre that felt so vital?
“The Brighton Centre is the largest venue in Brighton. I think the whole thing about this was that if we’re going to do this, we want it to be the most grandiose and massive thing we can achieve. As a Brighton band walking into this large arena in Brighton, and as a band of our size, we may not have been able to do outside of this situation. That makes the whole thing even more of a timestamp of this very moment. When else would you have Black Peaks playing here? Hopefully, it will go that way in years to come, but not right at the moment. It just became the obvious choice, and it means a whole lot to us. It’s such a prestigious place for any band, but for us growing up and seeing bands come over and play there, it feels even more special.”
And when you’re allowed to be on a stage like that, you’re going to go all-in on all the other elements too…
“We got set up the day before and brought in all the lights and everything, and it all felt so weird still. Production-wise, we’ve never had the chance to set up as a headline band in this way before. We’ve played some big shows, but you’re always set up in front of the headline band’s equipment, and you’re rushed on stage, play for 20 minutes and then rushed off. This was a totally different experience because it was all on our terms. It looked and sounded exactly how we wanted it to look and sound. After this long break, we’ve felt like we owe it to everyone who has ever given a shit about this band to deliver something on this scale.”
On an emotional level, what was it like all of you being back on stage together? Had you seen much of each other in this period?
“Not that much. We had done enough rehearsals that we felt good to go and play, but we’ve done much less just hanging out. We would just be getting into a rehearsal space and playing as much as possible. Everything seemed foreign for the first bit of time when we were on stage together. Even with the crew we had, there was this amazing atmosphere that everybody felt very lucky to be doing what they were doing. We were smack bang in the middle of lockdown at this point, and to have lighting operators and sound engineers and people with cameras there with us was awesome. Everybody was stoked on it, as were we.
“So yeah, for the first few songs, we were all just stood there playing and trying to soak in exactly what was going on. It had felt like forever since we had done it. That’s one of the things that has been hardest for artists in this time too. The payoff that you usually get from writing music and going through the struggles of being a musician and making fuck all money is being able to go and play. Having those aspects of this job taken away has made it hard to be objective about what you’re doing, even when creating. But it was this moment of being on stage, playing these songs loud and feeling the amp firing behind me that made it feel like the best thing in the world. It was just so good.”
Interestingly, had you had the chance to play ‘King’ at any point after you released it in September 2019? Was this performance one of the first times?
“We played it once. We had a warm-up show at our local studio, Brighton Electric, where we rehearse. They have a venue attached at the studio's side, and you can fit in a couple of hundred people in. We did a headline tour warm-up there, and it was the night before we were meant to leave for it. That day, we had a phone call from Will’s girlfriend saying that Will [Gardner, Vocalist] had been rushed into hospital and was sick. That’s when we had to pull the tour, but for the show, it was so late in the day that people had already started to turn up at the venue. So we played ‘King’ that night as an instrumental song, and that’s the only other time we’ve played it apart from this show.”
That’s such a fascinating thing. You were on the edge of a new era when you dropped this song, and that’s been on hold ever since. To have this period where people have been living with it for so long for you then present it live exactly the way you wanted to in a venue like this, that’s genuinely unique…
“Precisely, and that’s so cool. I hadn’t thought of it in that light before, and it’s such a special way to view it. It’s another moment where having that control over everything has made this whole thing so unique.”
Was there a particular moment in the set where you felt as though you all slotted back into place then?
“So we are set up on stage facing inwards and looking at each other. Will was facing Liam [Kearney, Drums], and I was facing Dave [Larkin, Bass]. That’s how we would practice. So through the first couple of tracks, we were getting all the levels right, and everybody was slightly on edge because it’s nerve-wracking. But then it helps to look inwards and to remember that out of all of these things that you’re expected to know as a musician. This is the one thing we know how to do. This is what we do. We write songs, and we play music. When we remembered that and looked at each other having a good time, that was when it all felt right again.”
And what did it feel like taking in the surroundings that you were doing this in?
“I think that the silence of the room made us all feel the weight of the situation. We were playing a 5000 capacity venue to ten people after all. Going into the whole thing and how we wanted things to look and feel, we wanted to embrace the silence. We wanted this to be a timestamp of what we are all living through right now, so rather than letting the silence ring out, we have panned away to the building's points that amplified the huge space that we were in. It’s an eerie feeling considering it’s a building that hasn’t seen a paying customer in a year now, and through that, we’re able to give a sense to the people watching of what it was like to be a part of this playing. It’s a way of bringing everyone in.”
As we look forwards, how are you feeling about the future and what you have been working on?
“I think that this time, in a really weird way, has changed our perception of things. Not in terms of our scope on things, but more on how we want to go about things. Historically, we’ve always had this feeling of, ‘We need to get out there and go after everything right now. We felt like we had to take every opportunity that we were offered and say yes to everything. Not that we’re not looking to do that now, but having this enforced period of sitting back and taking the time to get stuff right has been perfect for us. Moving forwards, we want to concentrate on not rushing stuff out. Not to say we want to take 12 years to make an album like Tool, but we’re more comfortable in the shoes we’re sat in right now. We want to do this for a long time, and we don’t want to burn out. So we want to continue doing things on our terms and making the music that the four of us want to make. We still want to put out the best music we can and play it worldwide, but the attitude has changed, and that’s a healthy thing for us.
“Though so many things that have happened over the last couple of years has made us realise how fragile all of this is and how lucky we are to have this. When you’re caught up in just going forwards, you’re not taking any time to take stock of what we had achieved whilst doing that. It’s hard to have perspective when you’re in the middle of everything. But now, with this forced perspective, we feel privileged to be able to get back in and do what we do.”
'Black Peaks: Live at the Brighton Centre' premieres on April 07 at 8pm BST.
You can buy a ticket right HERE
The performance is also set to be available on vinyl from April 16.
Pre-orders will go live during the stream.