Blue Bendy: the south London post-punk pop band who fried Wire’s brains | Music

From London, England
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Blue Bendy singer Arthur Nolan is discussing the band’s early days. “Before post-punk got so lethargic and landfill we were trying to be like Wire,” he says. “We wanted to do stuff like them on the weirder side of guitar music. Pop was a dirty word at the time.”

In 2017, Nolan arrived in the capital from Scunthorpe with guitarist Joe Nash “at the tail end of that whole Fat White Family and Windmill Brixton scene” and formed Blue Bendy. Initially they followed trends and embraced punkier music but with the addition of Olivia Morgan on synth, solidifying them as a six-piece along with Sam Wilson, Harrison Charles and Oscar Tebbutt, they evolved to lock into a more idiosyncratic and individual groove. “We didn’t want to be a south London post-punk band,” says Nolan. “We wanted to be a pop band. We just lacked the belief to go our own way in the early days.”

Blue Bendy: Clean Is Core – video

They gigged with the likes of Squid, Scalping and Omni and they caught the ear of producer Margo Broom (Goat Girl, Big Joanie) who began to work with them. Much like their peers Black Country, New Road, they were keen to shake off the grotty post-punk associations of the south London scene and expanded their sound, incorporating flutes over rhythmic bursts of acoustic guitar and humming synths.

Released in 2022, the Motorbike EP is an eclectic mix of art rock and avant pop, loaded with disjointed compositions and wonky melodies. Wire’s Colin Newman even played a track on his radio show. “After 20 seconds of silence, he said: ‘It’s going to take me about 24 hours to get my head around that,’” Nash recalls.

“We fried his brain,” Nolan adds. “So maybe we’re doing something right.”

They’re finding more fans: Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos has praised the band’s “wonderful lyrical imagery”, evident on tracks such as Clean Is Core, where Nolan sardonically asks: “Is there any fun in this utopia? / My inner monologue is being trolled / But this Becks blue bacchanalia is a thrill to behold.”

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“That is a mission statement if you take it with the pinch of salt that’s intended,” says Nolan. “It’s tongue in cheek about purity being dead. That’s us. We’re not making any kind of pure statement, we’re a big mix.” There are no boundaries as they move forward. “We may do orchestral baroque pop, a Tender Buttons rip-off track and then a fucking industrial rock tune,” says Nolan. “We want to do everything.”

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