“There’s no nerves,” Tom Ogden tells me assuredly.
With just two weeks to go until the release of their third album, Foolish Loving Spaces, the Blossoms frontman is telling me how the band is feeling pretty confident about their musical output. After the rollercoaster they’ve been on, it’s no wonder they’re prepared.
The Stockport five-piece, who formed in 2013, released their highly successful eponymous debut album in 2016. Two years later, their sophomore album, Cool Like You, was released, smashing its way into the UK Top 5. From inception until now, Blossoms have *deep breath* been on countless sold-out UK and US tours, played tons of festivals [including Coachella and Lollapalooza], won a BRIT Award, been nominated for a Mercury Prize, launched their own podcast [which topped the iTunes chart], and directed some of their own music videos.
Apparently, between all the aforementioned madness that comes with being a smash-hit indie band, Blossoms – comprised of Tom, Charlie Salt, Josh Dewhurst, Joe Donovan, and Myles Kellock– actually managed to carve out some time at home to work on their new album, rather than working on it in between tours like before. The result is an uplifting, disco-tinged, gold-plated banger of a record. Just what we needed to raise our cold, winter-beaten spirits.
We spoke to Tom about the band’s new album, Foolish Loving Spaces, his “traditional pop songwriting,” having a laugh, and his favorite drink at the pub.
Your third album Foolish Loving Spaces is out on 31st January. How did you come up with the title?
Do you know what, I read it somewhere in a book but I can’t remember what it was… We were gonna call a song that, which is on the album, called “Like Gravity”. That was originally called “Foolish Loving Spaces”. We have that line as a lyric in the song but then I decided it’s a great song title, so I’ll change it. It’s a great album title, so we changed it from a song title to the album title.
Which is your favorite track from the album?
My favorite track? You’ve put me on the spot now [laughs]. I like “My Swimming Brain” a lot. It happens to be the oldest song that was written for the album as well. It’s two years old, that one now.
Your eponymous first album topped the UK charts for two weeks and won you a BRIT Award. Your sophomore album was a Top 5 hit. With such previous success, has there been much anxiety around the expectations for this record? Or have you managed to stay pretty cool about it all?
Erm, we definitely felt nervous for [albums] one and two. We felt like we had more freedom [for this album] because the second came quite quickly after the first album and a lot of the songs were written in between being on tour. We never had a demo-ing process on the second album. Whereas with the third album, we had a bit more time to write songs again in between being at home. But we’ve been at home for longer periods of time in 2018 – 2019, so we had a chance to sit in a room and do it the way we did it in the old days, in away. Either way, there’s an added freedom. No, there’s no nerves. If anything, I was writing loads of songs and just felt really confident.
In terms of the creative process when writing new music, who takes on what role in terms of writing lyrics, making melodies, overseeing the final cut, etc?
I write all the songs. Then obviously, the band and everyone put their bits on it and it becomes BLOSSOMS, but the core lyrics, melody and chords– the song’s bare-bones [are written by Ogden]. Everyone’s own influence is chucked on top of that and then it becomes kinda what you hear on the record. The songwriting’s very traditional pop songwriting, really. It’s me sat down, coming up with the lyrics and the melody.
The album’s sound remains true to form for Blossoms. It’s your trademark, instantly recognizable sound. Was consistency important for you when creating it?
It sounds different to the first two records, but ultimately, when you’ve got the same type of people making music and I’m the one writing the songs, you’ve got your own style that goes into the songwriting. I think the fact you said it does still sound like Blossoms is good. When you’ve come this far, hopefully, you have your own sound.
You’re all from Stockport. How have your Northern roots influenced your sound?
Where I grew up has such a strong musical heritage. My parents, everyone’s parents, loved the Manchester music scene. Stockport’s just outside of Manchester and there’s not that much to do. That’s why we started a band I suppose. There’s a certain melancholy feeling to some of the songs, which subconsciously comes from where you’re from as well.
Your band name was inspired by a pub called The Blossoms in Stockport…
Yea, we used to go past it all the time on the bus and thought: what a great name for a band. No one else had it, so we just went for it.
What’s your drink of choice when at the pub?
Stella. Mine’s a Stella [he chuckles]. A nice lager. I don’t like the fruity ones, I’ll just have a classic lager.
The same pub also inspired a podcast: Blossoms Pubcast. What made you want to have your own podcast?
It’s just us chatting shit [laughs]. We had done two albums and were demo-ing songs, had done a little tour and a few gigs from the previous album, but we wanted to stay relevant and connect with the fans, so we thought, why not do a podcast? Some of the things we were talking about, we thought: we should put this on a podcast and see if people are into it. People seem to like it. It’s really normal and a lot of our own humor is in there our little inside jokes… we break down some of the songs… it’s just a laugh really.
You’ve also branched out into directing your own music videos [see “The Keeper,” filmed in NYC]. How was that experience? Will you be directing more in the future?
Oh yeah, that was the best trip we’ve ever done as a band. It was just us five, and then my brother who came and helped; took some photos for the album. He actually shot the album cover there. We got a guy that we met online because we saw his videos on YouTube made on Super 8 in New York and I was like: that’s what I want the video to look like. We’d shot some stuff on Super 8 before ourselves when we were at home. I’m into filming; that’s what I wanted to do before I was in the band. When you get a record deal, they take that weight off your shoulders and they make the videos. We had more time on our hands again and we had an idea. I wanted to go to New York. It married my love for the city with the song. It had a lot of sentimental value as well.
You had a headline North America tour last year. That must have been pretty mental. What were some of the highlights?
It was strange going back to America, it’s like going back in time five years, the band. Living out of motels and stuff like that. New York was great. We played in Brooklyn, that was great. We played in Canada actually! Toronto – that was great. The whole tour was great. To be able to play a couple of hundred capacity venues in America is pretty exciting.
With 2020 stretched out before us, what are you most excited about this year?
We’re looking forward to the big UK headline tour in March. We’re just rehearsing for it now with all these extra session musicians. It just sounds great, so we’re excited to go and play some shows. Be on the road and play these new songs. We wanna come back to America and do some more over there too.
Writer: Aimee Phillips
Photographer: Yoshitaka Kono
Assistant: Adri Ayala
Special thanks: Cre8 Studio