Britpop stars The Bluetones expecting to fly on reunion tour
- Credit: Archant
After four years apart, the quartet are preparing for a ‘populist’ return at the Kentish Town Forum, finds Alex Bellotti.
Aside from the continued success of groups such as Blur, Oasis, Suede and Pulp, it’s sometimes worth sparing a thought for the foot soldiers of Britpop. Cast, The Boo Radleys, Dodgy, Menswear – the era was full of bands propelled to fame by Cool Britannia before being left awash in its swift demise.
For Hounslow four-piece The Bluetones, there is no doubt the noughties hit hard. After breaking through in 1995 with their debut album, Expecting to Fly – which notably knocked Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? off the top of the UK album charts – and singles including Bluetonic and Slight Return, their next five albums struggled to make a similar impact.
They decided to call it a day in 2011, but after four years apart, The Bluetones are reuniting for a new tour. Ahead of a show at the Kentish Town Forum on September 24, lead singer Mark Morriss holds no bitterness about the band’s millennial fortunes.
“It’s always the shock of the new, pop music, that’s just the way it is,” the 43-year-old explains. “There’s no point me sitting here whinging that people started looking in other places for their music because that’s how it’s always been. You know what you’re getting yourself into when you shake hands with the devil and say, ‘I want to be a musician’.”
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Influenced by ‘60s West Coast psychedelica and the likes of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Bluetones if anything were more indebted to transatlantic pop than British sounds.
Unlike many of their contemporaries, their eventual decision to break up wasn’t inspired by a falling out; in fact, it was rather management issues and individual ambitions that fuelled an amicable parting of the ways.
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“It felt like we were fighting a lot of fires and we just felt tired of dragging our baby through the mud,” says Morriss. “Rather than keep on doing this and fighting all these unnecessary battles, we just thought we’d put it to bed before we stop loving it. We were all knocking on the door of 40 at the time and at that age you start to think about things more philosophically.”
For Morriss, the break allowed him to spend more time with his family back home in Tunbridge Wells; it also helped him to focus on a solo career which recently launched a new covers album, The Taste of Mark Morriss.
With the record released shortly ahead of The Bluetones’s reunion tour, he admits the timing took him by surprise. Yet when the band first suggested a reunion, he relished the chance to return to his “pals” and play some “populist” shows for the fans.
“It’s never really been the case with us,” he says of The Bluetone’s lack of bad blood. “We just wanted to try other things in our lives, having been in the band for the best part of 20 years at that point. At the same time, 20 years is quite a long time to be playing together, so a four year absence from each other feels big.
“And that’s the thing – some people are saying, ‘Well it’s only been four years’. Well if you don’t like that, then don’t come!”
The Bluetones play the Forum in Kentish Town on September 24. Visit theforumlondon.com