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black midi + Black Country, New Road tickets at Rams Head Live! in Baltimore
Tue 6 Sep 2022 - 20:00 EDT

Monozine Presents

black midi + Black Country, New Road

Rams Head Live!, Baltimore, MD Ages: All Ages


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Monozine Presents

Monozine Presents

black midi + Black Country, New Road

Rams Head Live!
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
Tue 6 Sep 2022 - 20:00 EDT
Ages: All Ages
Doors Open: 19:00
Door Price: $30.00
Onsale: Fri 13 May 2022 - 10:00 EDT

Bio: black midi

black midi, a biography
Five facts about black midi
“We’d end up in a groove in the rehearsal room for 10 minutes, or an hour. We didn’t really notice time, or that we were supposed to be working.”  
One. black midi are: Geordie Greep (guitar, vocals), Cameron Picton (bass, vocals), and Morgan Simpson (drums). 
black midi’s studio albums are Schlagenheim (2019), Cavalcade (2021) and Hellfire (2022). Further recordings include standalone singles Cruising7-Eleven and track drops like ded sheeran (ed sheeran send). Other notable releases are Cavalcovers EP, black midi live in the USA and The black midi Anthology Volume 1 - Tales of Suspense and Revenge.
Two. Coincidentally, Morgan and Geordie both played in church bands growing up - Morgan in Hertfordshire; Geordie in Walthamstow.
Geordie discovered music through: 
·         Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out on Guitar Hero 
·         His dad’s prog rock, folk and hard rock albums  
·         Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. “It’s hypnotic, like a car crash. You want to look away, but you can’t.” 
·         The first Star Wars film 
Three. The band met at the BRIT School. Fellow pupils were… not in black midi. Geordie and Matt borrowed the name from a Japanese music genre where a MIDI file is stuffed with so many musical notes that its visual representation looks solid black. MIDI files do not contain sound. 
Four. After leaving school Cameron worked in the Wimbledon branch of stationery store Ryman. Geordie taught music. Morgan briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a professional footballer but eventually chose drumming, also teaching music.  
Five. black midi got their first gig two weeks after leaving school, in June 2017, at south London’s renowned Windmill venue. It led to a Windmill residency, and a publishing contract, and a record deal, a Mercury nomination for Schlagenheim, and you reading this.  
“They say, ‘what you’re doing should be bad, how come it’s not?!’”  
Some myths about black midi 
Six. black midi don’t expect, or want, you to take themselves or their music too seriously. black midi music can be exuberant, cathartic, theatrical, comic, absurdist, over-abundant, intense, cinematic, brutal, restlessly brilliant. It’s almost always fun. 
Six. None of black midi’s released music is entirely improvised. They did spend a long time jamming at the start, but would record the jams and select the best bits to replay as part of structured recordings. “It didn’t take as much time to record Schlagenheim as it does to listen to it. We wish it were true! We also say we should swap and play each other’s instruments, but we never get round to it.” 
Six. The BRIT School’s importance in the black midi story can also be overplayed. Yes, the school was where they met, and their generous facilities afforded the group time and space in their final year to experiment and rehearse until they had a better idea of what they could become. But the school didn’t force anyone to describe black midi as “the best new rock band in Britain”. 
“Geordie had a dream that we called the album Hellfire, he kept saying it all the time” 
‘Hellfire’ has long burned in black midi’s world. First, Geordie imagined it was the title of their debut album; Cavalcade was mostly recorded at Hellfire Studio, Dublin; then Cameron dreamed it should be the title of their third. The skeleton of the new album was assembled while Cavalcade was being made, with the meat put on the bones at London’s Hoxa HQ.  
Making Cavalcade was a drawn-out process over 18 months thanks to extensive touring of Schlagenheim and the pandemic, while Hellfire took 6 months, starting in December 2020. It sprouted from a riff on one of the group’s oldest jams, which bloomed into the futuristic boxing drama Sugar/TzuCavalcade surprised a lot of people with how different it was to their critically adored debut, but it gave the band increased confidence in their own ability to evolve, and made it much easier to get Hellfire done. They also played a few socially distanced shows in 2021 to roadtest their latest material, which wasn’t a luxury they had with Cavalcade. An endlessly restless band, black midi load their live sets with fresh music as well as warp the old songs into startling shapes, so they needed touring to return, to be able to breathe life into the new songs on stage. 
After finishing Hellfire, they played late summer festivals Wide Awake (London) and Pitchfork (Chicago), sketched out some new songs and toured Europe, the UK and the US. “We loved hanging out in New York,” they say. “We played Webster Hall in October, that was an amazing show, then we were taken out for an insane meal and karaoke afterwards. That was the first night we experienced New York nightlife.” Morgan might not sing behind the sticks yet, but he’ll go toe to toe with Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls from the safety of a karaoke booth. You’ll find some more of their favourite songs to cover on 2022’s Cavalcovers EP where they rework Taylor Swift, King Crimson and Captain Beefheart. Hopefully two more Cavalcovers (or Hellcovers) will emerge - black midi versus both Prince and Talking Heads. 
“The best songs emulate talking, or speech, or sounds of nature - that’s what music it is - it feels natural” 
The main difference between Cavalcade and Hellfire is a switch from third-person to first-person storytelling. Cavalcade depicted everyone from cabaret singers to cult leaders, while Hellfire largely sticks to more morally suspect characters, given power by their direct dramatic monologues, their flamboyant appeals to our degraded sense of right and wrong. You’re never quite sure whether to laugh at or be horrified by the tales these people tell.  
“They’re characters,” says Geordie. “Almost everyone depicted is a kind of scumbag.. almost everything I write is from a true thing, something I experienced and exaggerated and wrote down. I don’t believe in Hell, but all that old world folly is great for songs, I’ve always loved movies and anything else with a depiction of Hell. Dante’s inferno. When Homer goes to Hell in the Simpsons. There’s a robot Hell in Futurama. Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Jewish writer who portrays a Satan interfering in people’s lives. There’s loads!” 
One connection between Cavalcade and Hellfire is that the mysterious military mining corporation behind the previous album’s Diamond Stuff reappears in Cameron’s new song Eat Men Eat. “I really enjoy the storytelling on Eat Men Eat, Welcome to Hell and 27 Questions,” says Morgan, who didn’t write any of Hellfire’s words. “I find myself laughing when we play them at gigs.” As on Cavalcade, most of the lyrics came from Geordie, but Cameron does some of his best-ever work on the forcefully sweet Still, the album’s least abstract, most lyrically personal song. “There’s a lot of love and things like that on Hellfire,” says Cameron. ”there’s a tender flipside to every song. The dark comes out strongly, there’s Hell and Satan and murder and unsavoury things, but every song has both light and dark.” 
“When we play The Defence live, you see young lovers kissing during that one,” Geordie points out. “It’s wholesome!” nods Morgan. Geordie resists the idea that there’s much of himself in the songs, though. “Maybe on 27 Questions,” he shrugs. “But I’ve never killed anyone, or gone on war campaigns, or met Satan. Or run a brothel.” 
Still, the range, power and potent production of black midi’s music has never been greater than on Hellfire, partly thanks to genius producer Marta Salogni, who’d worked on Cavalcade opener John L. But, as always, the type of music black midi play isn’t as important as its quality. And whatever you think about black midi’s music isn’t as important as how you feel about it.  
You may recall, black midi is a band that’s been described as: Ambient; Avant Funk; Classical; Drone; EDM; Experimental; Experi-metal; Funk; Hip-hop; Indie Jazz; Jazz; Jazz Fusion; Jazz-punk; ‘Krautrock’; Math Rock; Metal Jazz; Noise Rock; Post Metal; Post-punk; Post Rock; Prog; Progressive Post Hardcore; Punk Jazz; Rock Fusion; Space Rock and Speed Prog. black midi is a band that has been compared to: Zed the gang leader from Police Academy; Wu-Lu; This Heat; Talk Talk; Talking Heads; System of a Down; Swans; Sunn O))); Squid; Sons of Kemet; Solange; Slowdive; Slint; Shirley Bassey; Shellac; Scalping; Seefeel; Public Image Limited; Primus; Pere Ubu; Parquet Courts meets the Darkness; Olivier Messiaen; Housewives; Kokoroko; King Crimson; Kamasi Washington; Miles Davis; Mark E Smith if he were a Bond villain; Frank Zappa; Death Grips; Crack Cloud; the Comet Is Coming; Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band; Can; Butthole Surfers; Boredoms; Blanck Mass; black midi tribute band “blank mini”; Black Country, New Road; Battles; Audiobooks; Aphex Twin; Anna Meredith; 100 gecs 
No-one can be all these things, not even this extravagantly talented trio, so we must conclude that they are just one thing - black midi - and feel grateful that they exist.

The Players in Hellfire 
Cameron Picton 
Age - 22 
Grew up - Wimbledon 
Lives in - Wimbledon 
Instrument - Bass 
Weapon - Guitar 
Enjoys - East of Eden novel, Bad Gays podcast, The X-Files, Christian Rex Van Minnen, Fulham FC 
the Captain 
Age - Unknowable 
Grew up - Underground 
Lives in - A diamond mine 
Instrument - Any oenological accessory 
Weapon - The poisoned grape
Enjoys - Hospitality
the Defendant 
Age - Ageless 
Grew up - Everywhere 
Lives in - You 
Instrument - A thousand years of patriarchy 
Weapon - Lust 
Enjoys - Lucre 
Freddie Frost 
Age - Younger than life, older than death 
grew up - On stage 
Lives in - Your head 
Instrument - An audience 
Weapon - My talent 
Enjoys - Applause
Geordie Greep 
Age - 22 
Grew up - Walthamstow 
Lives in - Archway 
Instrument - Guitar 
Weapon - Vocals 
Enjoys - Patrice O’Neal, John Cheever, Richard Yates, Harry Hill
Kaidi Akinnibi 
Age - 23 
Grew up - Camberwell 
Lives in - Bohemia 
Instrument - Saxophone 
Weapon - Max’s out Charisma 
Enjoys - Constant practice 
Morgan Simpson 
Age - 23 
Grew up - Hertfordshire 
Lives in - South London 
Instrument - Drums 
Weapon - A football at my feet 
Enjoys - The Questlove Supreme podcast, Everybody Hates Chris, James Baldwin, Liverpool FC 
[name redacted aka Sun Sugar’s killer] 
Age - They said I was a boy, but they sentenced me as a man 
Grew up - Not enough 
Lives in - Gaol 
Instrument - Small pistol 
Weapon - My towering intellect 
Enjoys - Fame. My million wives. Murder 
Radio Rahim 
Age - Undisclosed 
Grew up - In the ring 
Lives in - California 
Instrument - The voice 
Weapon - Seconds Out boxing channel  
Enjoys - black midi
Age - Sempiternal 
Grew up - Heaven
Lives in - Hell 
Instrument - Pain 
Weapon - Man  
Enjoys - Your weakness
Seth Evans 
Age - 24 
Grew up - Southampton 
Lives in - The Cave (on probation) 
Instrument - Nord Electro 6D 
Weapon - Prophet 6 
Enjoys - Hitting Keyboards
Tristan Bongo 
Age - Too old, yet not old enough. 30. 
Grew up - Salafessien, via South Schlagenheim 
Lives in - A fathomless trench 
Instrument - A small deep bodied drum 
Weapon - A bullet and a gun 
Enjoys - Horseracing


Bio: Black Country, New Road

For many bands two songs is not a lot to go on. It’s a jumping off point or a sketch of what’s to come - it’s the primitive construction of a group’s artistic foundations. Yet Black Country, New Road propelled themselves far and wide from their first two offerings to the world via 2019’s ‘Athen’s, France’ and ‘Sunglasses’.
What followed was being declared “the best band in the world” by The Quietus, glowing reviews from The New York Times to The Guardian, landing on the front cover of Loud & Quiet, a live BBC 6 Music session, selling out shows across the country including 3 shows totalling 1700 tickets in London, being invited to festivals in far flung places such as Slovenia and Lithuania, scheduled on prestigious festivals such as Primavera and Glastonbury, performing with an orchestra, and finding themselves on French TV sandwiched between Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien. Their live performances gaining legendary status among fans of the emerging scene that coalesced around vaunted south London venue The Windmill, and which gave rise to many of their peers and contemporaries such as Fat White Family, black midi and Squid, artists with whom they have variously supported, toured with and collaborated with over the years. 
However, despite the band coming out seemingly fully formed and bristling with a wiry tension that merged post-rock soundscapes with jazz-inflected post-punk, their debut album manages to straddle a perfect line between this early period incarnation and their ever burgeoning evolution. “We’ve matured a lot since we recorded those two tracks,” says saxophonist Lewis Evans, who makes up the band along with May Kershaw (keys), Charlie Wayne (drums), Luke Mark (guitar), Isaac Wood (vocals/guitar), Tyler Hyde (bass) and Georgia Ellery (violin).
Those two initial singles have been re-recorded here to fit in tonally with the rest of the tracks - all of which were recorded live over a six-day period in March with producer Andy Savours. The resulting album is one that reflects where the band were as a unit after a year of heavy touring. This was a place where deft, free-flowing and intuitive playing melded with tightly coiled eruptive moments. The new version of ‘Sunglasses’ begins with buzzing and crackling guitars unfurling in almost drone-like churns, whilst ‘Athens, France’ employs space thoughtfully, unravelling as a looser groove. “We wanted it to sound exactly how we love to sound live,” says Evans.
The tweaks to the previously recorded tracks of course further enhances the connection to more recent live performances but it was also a way to sprinkle in a sense of the band’s ceaseless forward momentum. “We wanted to change some stuff musically just to get it into a shape that was more relevant to how we were playing it live now,” says Wood. “To have continuity of sound.”
Lyrics have been fine-tuned too, along with a subtler leaning towards singing from Wood, shifting from the spoken word approach of earlier material. “Speaking lyrics made sense at the time and was what I was comfortable with while learning to be a frontman,” he says. “Some things lend themselves to being spoken but there’s space for things to be sung - which feels more natural and less intense. It doesn’t always make sense for me to have this very aggressive spoken word over things - there’s room to perform in harmony with the band.”
The result captures the band’s early musical propensities, whilst also making room for their progressions and nuances. “We’ve since learnt our best asset,” says Evans. “We can play quietly. We’ve taken that and used it so it’s more dynamic. Intensity worked for us with those early recordings, like ‘oh my god this band is so intense and angsty’, but this record is a much more considered approach.”
Originally hailing from Cambridge and surrounding areas, and having played together in various guises over the years, as Black Country, New Road, they soon found they had a deep rooted sense of harmony and unity as their core foundation. Some members go as far back as being classmates at school, some would go on to live together, whilst others also went to University together. This has created a cohesive spirit and profound bond in the band that is reflected in their instinctive collective creativity. Yet despite being such a forceful unit they are also avid explorers individually. Many members play in other genre-spanning bands, have solo projects and collaborate with other artists. On top of this, the band’s background of melding classically trained players with self-taught ones also results in a unique concoction, combining precise technical skill with a raw, and often unpredictable, primal essence.
This finds the band intrinsically connected to those very early intense days whilst also heavily expanding on them. “The music was honest for the time,” says Wood.  “But it’s just not necessarily honest anymore for it to be this overwhelmingly tense thing. There’s still intensity throughout the record but it’s just a very different type of intensity.”
As Wood points out, to suggest this record is void of intensity would be a disservice but it does contain a more refined intensity. This balance between tension and release, along with opening up more moments for pause and reflection, can be felt throughout. The opening ‘Instrumental’, which takes shape from Evans and Ellery’s background performing klezmer music, is bright, punchy and sprightly, whereas ‘Track X’ unfurls in gently looping melodies, rich vocal harmonies and finds the band plundering a deep sense of poignancy and tenderness. ‘Science Fair’ places discordant guitars against warm strings before erupting in a screeching cacophony of both and the closing ‘Opus’ acts as a bookend for the album, as yet another klezmer-inspired number builds to a crescendo that feels like hurtling towards the end of a cliff top. The band has essentially found a way to make silences and spaces just as impactful as noise and chaos. 
Very much a collection of tracks aimed to reflect their live set, perhaps the most cohesive thread to be found running through the album is an approach to honesty. The band had to stop themselves running too far ahead in order to document this album in a way they felt was as truthful as possible. “This is representative of our first 18 months and then we’re going to put a stop in the road,” says Wood. “I’m interested in a really honest portrayal of what a band is.  It’s nice if people can see an artist’s phases and they’re quite clear and honest about their genuine progression as people and musicians.”
Even though Wood tweaked pre-existing lyrics that too was a balancing act between authenticity and evolution. “I edited things to a point where I was happy and comfortable with them but I made a conscious effort not to get rid of every line that I didn’t like because these songs have to be at least in some way honest.”
Ultimately the album is the perfect capturing of a new band and all the energy, ferocity and explosive charge that comes with that whilst also clearly the work of a group who have no interest in repetition, one-note approaches or letting creative stagnation set in. For the First Time is a sonic time capsule that somehow manages to bottle the past, the present and the future.

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