Hi Blake, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been doing fairly well given the circumstances of a catastrophic global pandemic. Crazy times we’re living in.
Can you talk to us more about your latest song “The Neighbors”?
“The Neighbors” is a satirical account of a southern family household trying to keep up with societal expectations and social norms of the middle-class suburban community around them. It’s all based on true events that either I endured as a child or that my friends dealt with growing up. Actually, the entire song was written as if it were from the perspective of the mother in the story. She’s the only character that is portrayed from multiple viewpoints as the song progresses – moving from the experiences of a wife to the experiences of a mom.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Growing up I had these neighbors that lived in this beautiful white house with a perfectly kept yard. They were always concerned with what our yard looked like as it was next to theirs. Also, growing up gay, I can remember one of the neighbors a few houses down started spreading rumors about my sexuality without me even being sure what that was at the time. Eventually, that rumor got around to my father and he paid that neighbor a visit and stood up for me.
Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?
I have a video treatment ready to go for the track. It’s very theatrical in nature… almost as if it were a musical on a Broadway stage. Also, I plan on performing it from the mother’s perspective as the song was written.
The single comes off your new EP Spiders Make Great Poets – what’s the story behind the title?
I’ve always had a particular affection for all things creepy crawly. “Creatures” both real and fantasy have been a comfort of mine since I was a kid. The spider in particular has three different meanings in regard to the title. The first being that a spider is woefully misunderstood in today’s culture. So much fear surrounds a creature that relatively minds its own business and contributes to the ecosystem, all because it “looks scary.” A lot of the best art comes from the perspective of the misunderstood and their desire to be heard… think of the art a spider could create given that it holds an unfounded fear in the majority of the human race. The second meaning the spider holds in the title is that prior to writing the EP, I was working on an epic fantasy novel with a spider in it named Feibl, who wrote the future in his web. And the third meaning the spider has in regard to the title is that in many cultures’ mythology, the spider represents the creative force that birthed the universe. Just as it weaves its web, so too does it weave the destiny of us all. And therefore, what lovely poets those little fuckers make.
How was the recording and writing process?
I’m very inspired by songs like “Hotel California,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Bat Out of Hell,” and “Stairway to Heaven.” The complex chord and tempo changes have always been something that appeal to me. In the beginning stages of writing the song, I knew the concept of gradually delving into more and more madness lent itself to a song structure like the ones I previously referenced. I’m almost embarrassed to say that this song was a work in progress for about two years. I knew the concept was a story I wanted to tell, I just wanted it to be perfect… so there were a lot of rewrites with this one. Once it came to the recording of it, we wanted to do something a little bit different as it is a very progression based theatrical song. So we recorded about three full-takes of the lead and picked one we thought told the story the best.
How have Lady Gaga and My Chemical Romance influenced your writing?
Wow… talk about two juggernauts. Gaga and My Chem, while different in genre, share many things in common. One notable one is the influence David Bowie and Queen have on their art. They also share a particular love for theatrics and storytelling through all parts of the music. I would definitely say that My Chem brought the angst while Gaga brought the glam and when you put those in a stew, you get the colors I like to play in while writing and performing.
What aspect of social expectations and pressure did you get to explore on this record?
The first song “Sad Girls Dance Party” deals with the issues I had with my father growing up and eventually coming to the conclusion that I’m gay. The expectation of me being a sports playing, masculine son was something I was never able to fulfill which was hard for my dad.
The second song “This is The End” is about my experiences going to a private Christian school and wanting to kill myself from the pressures of toxic religious expectations.
The third song “The Neighbors,” while satire in nature, is filled with a ton of empathy for the family who is thrust into ruin from just trying to fit in.
The fourth song “A Ghost I Knew From Yesterday” is in regards to the betrayal I felt from those close to me who voted for and put Trump in office. While it is not necessarily about me being angry, it is about how separated I felt from those that I considered to be pinnacle in my development as an artist.
And last but not least, “United States of Depression” is about my struggles with depression and anxiety as an adult and the toxic coping mechanisms I’ve used to quiet this seemingly never-ending loop of torment.
Was it easy to explore some of these rather dark subjects?
I’ve always found comfort in the darkness. I’d say it’s much harder for me to write about what makes me happy, rather than what makes me angry or sad.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Hmm… horror movies? I pull a lot of inspiration from the stories, structure, and timing of horror tales. I think it’s an amazing formula that can be done over and over again and still be surprising and “scary” to the audience. And I love a good scare.
Any plans to hit the road?
As of right now, with the current quarantine situation, any plans to hit the road have been put on the back burner until things let up. That being said, this album was meant to be performed live and I already have a full stage concept and treatment ready to go for when I am finally able to tour.
What else is happening next in Blake English’s world?
The music video for “Sad Girls Dance Party” has been shot and while it hasn’t been released to the general public yet, it was nominated for “Best Song” in the Berlin Music Video Awards. The show is currently set to happen at the end of May and the music video will be released prior to that.
Stream – https://smarturl.it/BlakeEnglish