Search The Line of Best Fit
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Blue Bendy by Trinity Ace 2024 1

On the Rise
Blue Bendy

06 March 2024, 12:30
Words by Mia Smith

Original Photography by Trinity Ace and Michael Julings

South London post-punk pop collective Blue Bendy creates a mind-expanding sound that twists and turns at every corner.

Just like their music, Blue Bendy are impossible to pin down, as four of the sextet phone in for our interview from mysterious spots across London.

With vocalist Arthur Nolan appearing on camera, crouched in what looks like an underground bunker, guitarist Joe Nash and synth player Olivia Morgan laugh when they realise it’s the band’s studio kitchen. “You look like you’re in some basement you’re being tortured in,” Nash chuckles.

Things are moving fast for Blue Bendy. With their debut album So Medieval set for release on 12 April, the band are preparing to escape mouldy kitchen ceilings as they set their sights confidently on a new chapter. “It’s all kicked up a notch since our album announcement back in January,” Nash smiles. “We’ve had lots of coverage which has helped us reach even America. It’s all been very exciting.”

Ruminating on their recent album listening party, the band agree that it was strange and a little uncomfortable for everyone involved, but ultimately good fun. “I don’t know what they’re traditionally like,” says Nash, “but we just played the album really loud in an empty room. Wait, no, not empty!” he backtracks, “there were definitely people in it, it was just a big shell of a room!”


“And Arthur made us all line up!” Morgan jumps in. As the band argue about how long they stood in front of the crowd – Nash adamant it was only a minute, Morgan convinced it was a lot longer – Nolan laughs: “it was kind of like being at an afters and making everyone come into your bedroom to listen to your SoundCloud.”

The band always seem to be standing together – Blue Bendy united like one great entity. “People often say we look like we’re in different bands, or that we shouldn’t be together, but it’s a very collective experience,” Nolan adds.

One collective experience involved accidentally jumping into a swamp together, a tangent Nash promises is relevant. That day they also penned “Darp”, the third track of So Medieval. The band were on tour with Deep Tan, staying in what Arthur describes as an old-school-cum-art-retreat in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside. “We were walking to the pub and there was what looked like this really enticing pond. We said if we had enough drinks we’d get in it”, he laughs. “Anyway, we all had a shot of rum and then clambered into this little boat.” Olivia grins: “Joe got in first. It was so beautiful and tranquil, reflecting the moon, and then it was just sludge.” Arthur is still laughing, as he adds “we all knew it was sludge after Joe got in, but we all got in anyway. It was one of the best times we’ve had as a band.”

Back from the swamp, they queued up for the singular shower in the building and then slept on one long mattress on the floor. “We haven’t got any arts funding yet,” Olivia says, “so we’re always sleeping on one long mattress together.”

Credit Michael Julings

No matter how silly the scrape, the friends are always following one another. Most of their formative years were spent together too; Arthur and bassist Olly Nolan are brothers, and grew up with Nash in Scunthorpe. Guitarists Harrison Charles and Oscar Tebbutt were later recruited while Arthur Nolan was at Goldsmiths, before Morgan joined a little later.

The band’s soundscape sprouts from their unifying experiences, dug up from weird and wonderful nooks and crannies. Morgan reaches for a little papier-mâché alien she’s made before showing off some of her other sweeping influences: “I’m really into Boards of Canada at the moment,” she says. “I’m getting rid of my phone too - so’s Harrison. I’m trying to go and sit outside more - doing less browsing the web and more looking at things.”

As much as their influences are grounded in reality, they also stand firmly in pop culture. On “I’m Sorry I Left Him To Bleed”, Nolan sings about feeling like Kendall Roy from Succession. “I don’t like to indulge in meme culture,” he laughs, “but at the time, the epitome of being a sad emo boy was Kendall Roy. It felt like the perfect way to articulate how this person made me feel.” Arthur considers a lot through references, drawing comparisons to various Simpsons episodes throughout the interview too.

Just as important as the band’s music is the band’s philosophy. “The name Blue Bendy grew on me,” explains Nolan. “It sounds silly. We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously, and let the music do the serious talking for us. There's silliness in the seriousness of it.” The band giggle while considering their other name ideas – most of them too “horrible” or “grotesque”, even, to share.

Nolan doesn’t mean to sound profound – often apologising for sounding like an “arsehole” – but he does. Earlier today he was listening to Werner Herzog on the Adam Buxton podcast, he shares, crediting the eccentric German filmmaker for much of his thoughts today. “He said something along the lines of ‘you don’t have to hate the internet just because there’s poison in it’, and it felt very prophetic,” he says. “Obviously the way to write good music is to consume loads of it, but listening to people talking and having ideas is just as important – like, studying the philosophy of the band.”

They’re quick to decide Herzog wouldn’t be a Blue Bendy fan. “No, he hates bombast,” Nolan laments. “He’s all about nuance, and I think nuance is important, but making pop music, you can’t be too selective.”So Medieval is gloriously pompous, the band flexing to their limits and exploding expectations, but there’s still some nuance. Nolan says he wants their sound to come across as “pleading for nuance in the least nuanced way possible.”

Bendy option 6

With a debut album that’s difficult to describe, the band are revelling in this musical subversion. “People struggle to pin us into a genre, but people struggling to describe you, I find that really fun,” Nash explains. “If we write something that sounds too much like an indie rock tune, we think how we can not make it sound like that… If something feels like it’s going down a clear path, we’ll throw some roadblocks in the way.” Nolan agrees: “The road well travelled is always the bad one… but it makes for shit family gatherings at Christmas when your uncle’s girlfriend is asking you what kind of music you make.”

They’re also trying to be as anti-Dirty Sterling as possible – a band self-proclaimed as The Best Thing To Come Out Of Scunthorpe when the Nolans and Nash were teenagers. They’ll be kicking off the So Medieval tour here on album release day, before bending around the UK. “If Dirty Sterling had a gig in London they’d have to take 3 buses full of people with them. Now we’re playing a gig in Scunthorpe, and we’re having to bus people up from London,” Nolan laughs. “There’s some irony there.”

Considering other 2024 plans, the band share their ins and outs for the year. We’ve already gathered that smartphones are out, and Werner Herzog is definitely in. “Jelly bags are in,” Nolan adds. The band have no idea what he’s talking about. “You know, like jelly shoes, but a bag. My jelly bag.” They laugh, and Morgan claims Mountain Warehouse base layers are in too. Vaping is middling (especially Pineapple Ice flavour), and so is indie sleaze. Shit poetry and Fat Dog (the band) are out, but Kindles and Facebook poking are in. And Blue Bendy are in too, of course.

Latest single "The Day I Said You'd Died (He Lives)" is out now. Blue Bendy's debut album So Medieval is out 12 April via The state51 Conspiracy.

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