Ahead of the release of their new single and upcoming U.K tour, we got in touch with London psych-rock duo Black Doldrums.
The pioneers of psychedelic rock may now be classed as senior citizens, yet the gauntlet they threw down continues to be picked up by generation after generation of outsiders drawn to the hypnogogic and otherworldly nature of the music, not to mention the drugs that fuel it. Psychedelia remains as popular as ever, with arena-filling bands such as Tame Impala surreptitiously imprinting psychedelic tropes on the pop charts. But while Tame Impala and co concern themselves with huge choruses and increasingly mainstream recording techniques, there remains an underground horde of psychedelic puritans who continue to mine the genre for its mind-altering and face-melting qualities.
Black Doldrums are one such band. Comprised solely of guitarist/ vocalist Kevin Gibbard and drummer Sophie Landers, Black Doldrums present a brand of sprawling psychedelia that dazzles and pummels in equal measure. Their music is a hypnotic blend of tribal drums, thick distortion and deep reverb that’s delivered with a certain swagger, suggesting there may be well-worn copy of ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory?’ in the tour bus.
As the release of their debut album approaches, we got in touch with the duo to discuss the superfluous nature of bass players and their attraction to the dark side of psychedelic music.
5 minutes with… BLACK DOLDRUMS
Did you decide to operate as a duo out of desire or necessity?
KG – “A bit of both I suppose. We spend a lot of time together and are basically the same person! So when starting a band it was easy. We intended on getting other members but it seemed to work and we became quite efficient early on and enjoyed not having to rely on anyone else.”
SL – “What Kev said really. We just got going with it and in the early days we did intend on getting a bass player, but we never found anyone that fit. In the end Kev started to use different techniques to get a much bigger sound and the general feedback was that people didn’t want us to get a bass player so we just kept working at making ourselves sound like 5 people.”
What attracted you to the darker side of psychedelia?
KG – “It’s weird really, I never would of described us as dark until people said a little while ago. But I suppose we are. I like to think our material has meaning and a bit of purpose. If it needs to be dark to have any kind of substance then let it be dark I say. It’s always got to mean something otherwise what’s the point.”
SL – “Most of the music we like has some kind of deep rooted meaning to it and consequently ends up being quite dark so like Kev said that’s carried through to our own music. I’m drawn to anything dark or a bit weird so when Kev comes up with a load of riffs, I tend to favour the ones that sound dark and culty.”
Why do you think psychedelia continues to enjoy such interest in this digital age?
KG – “I think good psych or good music in general has depth to it, and I think in today’s climate we get de-sensitised and swamped by information everywhere. Good music that resonates with people probably cuts through all the modern day distractions and accesses something more primal.”
SL – “I think after psychedelia exploded in the 60’s, so much that came after that was influenced by it that its fed through to other genres so there’s a lot of cross overs. I’d expect that maybe for a lot of people when they listen to music from the 80’s or 90’s, they might look into that band’s influences and backtrack into discovering various other genres including psych. That’s what I tend to do anyway. If we’re talking about the digital age, I suppose Spotify has made it easier to branch off into different bands or genres similar to what you’re already listening to.”
What can we expect from your forthcoming single ‘Those With A Rope Around Your Neck (Don’t Always Hang)’?
KG – “Dark, heavy with a bit of groove. Some relentless drumming.”
SL – “Dark and Culty.”
Aside from the obvious The White Stripes comparisons, are there any duos you’ve taken inspiration from?
KG – “No none to be honest. The White Stripes sound too much like two people. I like a big sound.”
SL – “I don’t think either of us really like any duos. I often wonder why we don’t get compared to Milli Vanilli or The Proclaimers, because to me our music sounds as much like that as it does The White Stripes.”
What can people expect from a Black Doldrums live show?
KG – “High volume, layered sounds and disorientation hopefully.”
SL – “Reverberation.”
What’s next for The Black Doldrums?
KG – “We head out on a 17 date tour of the UK and Ireland and in the meantime we are mixing our album due for release soon. We have some new material to play so looking forward to that.”
SL – “We’ll be working on new material and hopefully planning a European tour for later in the year!”
Tickets for the UK and Ireland tour are available online via the band’s social media pages.
BLACK DOLDRUMS LIVE:
6th – Cardiff – The Moon
7th – Bristol – Hy-Brasil Music Club
13th – Edinburgh – Sneaky Petes
14th – Dundee – Conroy’s Basement
15th – Glasgow – Broadcast
16th – Nottingham – The Chameleon
17th – Wigan- The Old Courts
18th – Liverpool – Jacaranda Club
19th – Derry – Brickwork Lounge
21st – Dublin – Drop Dead Twice
22nd – Belfast – Menagerie
23rd – Manchester – Night People
25th – Bishops Stortford – The Half Moon
26th – Cambridge – The Corner House
27th – Shrewsbury – Unit 32
28th Leeds – The Lending Room
5th May – Southampton – Heartbreakers
By George Percival