Impassioned sound with depth and dancing, Bobhowla release their new single Tainted

Photography credits: Warren Miller

Bobhowla are back with a heartfelt anthem in their new single, Tainted. It’s modern rock with a little more, pulling at the heartstrings alongside a brilliant riff. 

Southport natives, Bobhowla don’t shy away from their Liverpool influences, favouring a sound blending old school rock with a bit of folk, a bit of psychedelia and a whole lot of story telling. Previously a one man show by Howard Doupe, the addition of John Brindle (electric guitar, synth and keys), Graham Fletcher-Hill (bass) and Al McNay (drums) brought on new opportunities for live sets and a new force to the music. Sail Down the Water was the first single they released as a group, with a unique timbre and gentle melodies. Definitely not shy of difficult themes and loudly passionate music, they’re “a band to believe in rather than be paraded out.”

Their debut album, Everything’s Wrong, But It’s Alright, came out last year to a great reception, solidifying their position as a band to watch out for. The single, MillionMan, is a definite crowd favourite, but listen to When Love Stops a-Lovin’ to slow down and appreciate the roots that inspire so much of their music.

Out on 9 September, Bobhowla’s brand new single, Tainted, is something a little different. Musically, it’s a pretty easy listen.

Catchy guitar riffs become the vocal melody and this sense of sonic familiarity makes it immediately accessible and fun. If the fast pace tempo and dynamic passion doesn’t initially make you want to move your body, the guitar riff after the second chorus will definitely be something you can feel. 

It’s an interesting energy to pair with the subject matter, but this form of passion expresses it better than any sad ballad could. Tainted explores the Contaminated Blood Scandal of the 70s and 80s, the effect and cause of which is still being investigated, with a report due out next year.

The lyrics “Breathing is hard enough without the demons waiting at your bed, masquerading as the light ahead,” poignantly sum up the devastation of the scandal. The single has a higher energy and more of a dance vibe than what we’ve heard before from Bobhowla. This kind of energetic, catchy, fun to sing style of music blends well with its heavy themes, creating an emotive example of the sensitivity of old school rock.

Tainted is enlightening, vivacious and at times excitingly chilling. Let’s hear what frontman Howard Doupe has to say about it. 

Image credit: Amanda Clarke-Price

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. To start with, I’d like to give our readers that don’t know much about Bobhowla a bit of an introduction. How would you describe your musical style?

Bobhowla is your usual 4-piece band, however the blend of indie, folk, and psych make for an unique sound. Lyrically, we’re not shy of hiding away from heartfelt, emotive issues and themes. It’s song writing for those who believe in the art of expression and determination. Wrapped up in slick, catchy melodies, we’re a band to believe in rather than be paraded out.

When did you start making music?

I’ve always dabbled in writing songs since being a teenager. Music had a profound impact just at the right time – more so than it does with many! Taking inspiration, writing was just an avenue for output. Our debut album ‘Everything’s Wrong, But It’s Alright’ (released last year) was a collection of material stemming back over many, many years.

You started as more of a solo act. What brought you guys together as a group?

Well after performing solo for over ten years in and around the north-west, releasing the odd EP and hosting acoustic nights it was the inspired decision to properly record some material that led to our debut single ‘Sail Down The Water’ getting a 7″ vinyl release. The band started as a project to present the material. After managing to get together a few like-minded folk from the local scene, we battered the tracks into a full-band live setup. Here we are now, a debut album and a new single release later.

Photography credits: Warren Miller

Who would be your biggest musical influences?

It’s a tricky question this one. Obviously, having Liverpool just a stones throw away, you can’t deny the obvious influences. After that, I’m a 90’s child so instrument of choice was always going to be a guitar over a keyboard.

What’s great about the band is that, although our songs often come from a traditional songwriters angle, they morph into something far greater through the bands wider influences of 80’s pop, cosmic scouse psychedelia, modern jazz and classic rock. It’s a strange mix, but one we hope brings a uniqueness.

Congratulations on the new single! ‘Tainted’ tackles some heavy themes, exploring the Contaminated Blood Scandal that hasn’t really been delved into before in popular music. Why is this an important issue for you and what drew you to write about it?

Thanks! You’re right, it’s an issue that is very close to our hearts within the band. A cause that very much needs wider exposure. We thought someone should speak out, why not us?

Often referred to as ‘the worst disaster in the history of the NHS.’ There’s an ongoing public inquiry into the scandal, which is due to report next year. Just do a quick search online and you’ll soon be informed on the sheer scale and depth of what was an avoidable disaster. One of the strongest supporters has been Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester. He’s very kindly contributed a slice of audio that features on the track. We’re immensely proud that he wanted to help in this way. It’s almost unbelievable in this day and age, what can pretty much go under the radar of the general public, without justice being delivered to the infected and affected, for over 40 years!

Can you talk me through the creative process of creating Tainted?

As with most of our tracks, the lyrics and the music often are two separate processes. It’s the fitting together that creates the song in it’s finished form. Tainted was very much an idea, brought to the rehearsal room, each member contributing their own take on the flow – hit a tempo and off we went. We had an overall idea on how it should sound – that vision was realised though once we got into the studio.

This track feels a bit more fast paced than the majority of songs from your debut album, ‘Everything’s Wrong, But It’s Alright’. Can we expect this change in energy and sound in your future tracks?

I hope so! As a band you always want to be progressing. If a more louder, bolder sound is our natural progression, then long may it lead us. I can’t see the distortion pedals being swapped for Mandolins any time soon.

Image credit: Amanda Clarke-Price

You’ll be debuting Tainted this Friday 9 September with Astles at Southport Bijou Cinema. What are you most looking forward to about this gig?

Two things really, firstly we get to support one of the finest new talents to come out of our town. Southport isn’t really renowned for it’s current musical output and so getting an all-Sandgrounder billing together is something to celebrate. Secondly, this is our first full-band Southport show, ever! We tend to peddle most of our live shows Liverpool’s way. A celebratory hometown gig has been on the cards for too long now – it’s about time the locals heard the album, wouldn’t you say?

Yes, absolutely!! Well, thank you so much for your time. I’m sure you’re super excited to share this single and get it out there. What’s coming up next for you guys?

You’re very welcome! Hopefully, more gigs in the coming months and continuing work on new material. Pretty sure a second album will be in the offering sometime next year. Oh and you’ll be able to catch me at the Klee Sessions (Friday 16th September) at Prohibition Studio in Liverpool. It’s going to be a real treat to perform for such an intimate crowd.

Listen to “Everything’s Wrong, But It’s Alright” by Bobhowla on Spotify:

For more info, check out Bobhowla here… and, if you enjoyed this, feature check out more reviews and interviews from IAMUR… You might just find your new favourite artist!

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