Following in the footsteps of London Grammar and Amber Run by forming at the University of Nottingham, Blondes have big shoes to fill. Yet with the immense success of their song Coming of Age on TikTok resulting in them signing to American label C3 Records, we reckon they don’t have anything to worry about. Here, Alex Davison and Daniel Stroud reminisce about their UoN days...
Can you tell us the story of how you formed at UoN?
Stroud was there first, by himself for a year. He went to band society, but he looked inside, and they didn't look like his sort of people - lots of long hair and heavy metal! The following year, everyone who was in our original line-up joined UoN, looking to start a band. We found each other through similar tastes in music.
What are your memories of your first gigs?
Our first gig was Battle of the Bands on Sutton Bonington campus. It felt like the middle of nowhere, the keyboard didn't work, we broke a guitar string - but two people came to see us on their own accord! The following year, we started doing shows around town. We used to run our own nights at The Chameleon, and we performed at Rough Trade, The Bodega, Angel Microbrewery, and The Maze, who told us they had a drum kit but didn’t, so our old drummer had to buy a snare and we fashioned a stand out of an upside-down stool, a brick, and a fire extinguisher. They were some really rogue shows.
How would you describe the experience of having one of your songs, Coming of Age, go viral on TikTok?
It happened when we all had COVID. It started in the middle of the night because it was an American user. Alex was the only one on TikTok, when not many people knew what it was. It snowballed, and the next morning there were more. Stroud was at work, trying to follow it on his phone. It was being used as a parody of coming-of-age movies and suddenly we were hitting 100 listeners at a time on Spotify. Time went past and it was still going, and it hasn't really stopped since then. Coming of Age really catapulted us into people's field of view. Our label, C3, was part of that audience. The song even got played on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway!
People just came to our shows and started taking their T-shirts off
People love to take their T-shirts off at your gigs, where did this originate from? Was it inspired by Ocean?
We didn't actually come up with that idea! People just came to our shows and started taking their T-shirts off. It wasn't until our friend Tristan Phipps, who was part of The Mic Magazine, pointed out the similarity to Ocean that we realised it. The older crowds don't take to it so well, though - we have our livelier shows with our younger crowds.
How does it feel to know that you formed in the same way as other successful bands who met at UoN? Do you feel that you have big shoes to fill?
People mainly tell us we're the best band to come out of UoN... just joking! London Grammar and Amber Run get mentioned but, funnily enough, the band we get compared to the most is Coldplay, for the fact that they met in halls at uni in London. The UoN thing is more of an encapsulation of what you can do when you meet four like-minded people in a space like a university. It's nice to be considered not just as a uni band, but as a band that came out of uni.
We’ll get a Nottingham show sorted - watch this space!
You are now based in Liverpool, but what do you miss the most about Nottingham?
Green spaces! Wollaton Park, the Arboretum, and the Downs on campus. And if you're in Nottingham, you have to go to Trent Windsurfing Club! Most beautiful place you will ever go, and you can actually swim in the water.
What’s next for the band?
We are still in conversation with C3 but we are looking to bring in a UK partner for our second EP. It’s ready to go, it just needs to be mixed and mastered. We’ve got a tour coming up with Courting as well. We aren’t on the Nottingham date, though, so we’ll get a Nottingham show sorted - watch this space!
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