blanket – Our Brief Encounters: Exclusive Stream

Post-rock inspired quartet stream their debut EP Our Brief Encounters 4 days before its official release exclusively with The Independent

blanket, from left to right, Bobby Pook
blanket, from left to right, Bobby Pook

Despite the band being barely a year old, blanket have made a bold, first step with their debut EP Our Brief Encounters, a five-track sweeping euphony that runs through a gamut of textures from ambient, textural soundscapes to ebullient, cloud-nine euphoria in 26 minutes. Bobby Pook (guitars / vocals) and Simon Morgan (guitars / backing vocals) had both envisioned forming a band that combined their love of movie soundtracks and heavy rock guitars with accompanying live visuals, something Pook is well-versed with in his job as a videographer. Initially demoing material in the conservatory of their shared house, Pook and Morgan brought in bassist Matthew Sheldon and Steven Pellatt on drums in the summer of ’16 and the remaining pieces of the blanket puzzle fell into place.

The EP evokes some of the more enlightening exuberant material by bands such as Caspian, Maybeshewill, Sigur Rós, This Will Destroy You, Circa Survive and Explosions in the Sky, but despite the triumphant tone, it was created under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, as Pook relays. ‘Simon and I had just moved in together and we both sometimes do session guitar work at weekends. I came home really tired from one of those sessions, lit a candle and went to run a bath. When I turned back towards my room, I noticed an orange glow, so I walked in and saw it was going up in flames pretty quickly. Typically, the only thing I could think about was all our equipment, so I frantically tried throwing things that had caught fire out of the window to get them away from the house, but the fire was spreading too quickly. The fire caught me at one point and the smoke was filling my lungs so I knew it was time to jump ship.’

The next thing Pook remembers is waking up in a hospital bed being drip-fed morphine. He had sustained severe 3rd degree burns on his hands and naturally, with a self-employed job that relied on him using them, feared his livelihood might be in jeopardy. ‘I basically had no skin on my hands,’ he says, ‘it looked awful. I was so bummed out because all my possessions were gone and I couldn’t work to earn money and buy new ones. With the help of the nurses at Preston Hospital though, I managed to recover quite quickly and was able to go back to work about a month later while my hands were still scabbed and looking horrible. My girlfriend at the time set up a ‘Go Fund Me’ page without my knowledge, which meant I was able to buy back most of my equipment and could get back to making music and shooting videos. I’m eternally grateful to my friends and family for helping me out and getting my life back on track. They gave me a whole new outlook on life.’

This new outlook helped shape the jubilance that envelops Our Brief Encounters; most of the EP’s triumphant moments, including the exultant final track To the Skies, were written after the accident and Pook’s subsequent recovery. ‘I think the songs we wrote before the fire have a different vibe than the tracks written afterwards’ Pook says. ‘The fragility of life became a reoccurring theme on this record after that incident. The record ends with a climax that really gives me a sense of hope when I listen to it.’

Pook’s influences clearly spread far and wide, and he has a deep understanding and knowledge of a variety of different genres; throughout our conversation, he mentions an eclectic range of artists that had an affect on him, everything from The Dillinger Escape Plan to Green Day, from Converge to Hans Zimmer. You probably wouldn’t know it by simply listening to Our Brief Encounters, but Pook also used to be the guitarist in British pop-punkers Me vs. Hero. ‘I just like all kinds of music,’ he says. ‘I've made electronic music in the past and I’ve also been in grindcore bands. I enjoyed playing in Me Vs Hero but towards the end I definitely grew more interested in making more textural and technical music and was writing a lot of solo more emotionally charged material. Basically, I got older.’

With blanket, Pook certainly seems to be more ambitious, particularly when it comes to the live show and syncing visual elements with the music. ‘Some of the visuals set a mood, some of them have lots of light art and geometric art and all that is synced to the timings and rhythms of our songs. I think for a mostly instrumental band this is really important, we went to see Explosions in the Sky last year and that helped us create more or an idea of what we wanted to accomplish. Every show we’ve played, people have commented that the experience as a whole felt like a journey or hypnotising or emotional and that is exactly what we want people to take away with them. In future, we'd love to look into more 3D mapping projections but for now I'm really happy with what we have created and proud that we've done it all ourselves.’

blanket play the following shows in the UK and Europe in support of Our Brief Encounters

9th Feb – Bootleg Social, Blackpool - UK

12th Feb – Le Coin Aux Etoiles, Mons - BELGIUM

13th Feb – District Six, Dusseldorf - GERMANY

14th Feb – Venue TBC, Poznan - POLAND

15th Feb – Klub CH25, Warsaw – POLAND

16th Feb – Klub Piekny Pies, Krakow - POLAND

17th Feb – Rock Station, Morlanwelz – BELGIUM

Our Brief Encounters, the debut EP from blanket, is released on 10th February on 12" Vinyl and digitally

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