Blank Realm received widespread critical acclaim for this year’s Grassed Inn album and with that momentum they were able to travel to Europe for the first time, playing a range of shows from intimate clubs to massive festival stages. Ahead of venturing down the highway from Brisbane to play The Blurst Of Times festival at the Factory Theatre, keyboardist and vocalist Sarah Spencer chats with Chris Familton about those experiences, being nominated for the Australian Music Prize and the band’s creative process.
“It was pretty crazy. We played 22 shows over 24 night across Europe so you get in that zone of waking up and wondering where you are and where you have to be the next day. Glastonbury was an experience with 250,000 people in a field in the middle of nowhere. It was just mud city, like nothing I’ve experienced before. We went to some smaller towns in France and they love Australian music like The Saints and Go-Betweens so we were really welcomed in those cities. We wondered why all these people were there and they wondered why we were there so it was an incredible experience and a lot of fun.”
It’s been a year since Grassed Inn was recorded and though it was well received Spencer reveals the mixed feelings that come from creating, releasing and reflecting an album. “It is funny when it finally comes out and it’s been around for a while. You put in a lot and agonised over it when it was being mixed and produced. We tried not to stress over it too much and get it out there before we went to America last year. When it first comes out you listen to it again and then don’t want to listen to it for a while and then you listen to it again and think “Oh no, its not really that bad”. We’ve been plating those songs live a lot and keep on developing them in the live context. They continue to take shape even after the album comes out.”
Grassed Inn has also been long-listed for the 2014 Australian Music Prize alongside Harmony, East Brunswick All Girls Choir, Straight Arrows and others and Spencer views their nomination as a real honour. “We definitely appreciate it. It’s a shock to break through in a way that we never have before. We really love the new Total Control and HTRK albums and it’s been a fantastic year for albums in Australia. It’s a cliche to say it’s an honour to be nominated amongst that calibre of artists but it really is. I think they’ve deliberately sought out bands like us who’d benefit from that kind of exposure which is amazing.”
The Blurst Of Times will see Blank Realm performing alongside a raft of other bands both underground and starting to find wider success and Spencer is excited by the lineup and the chance to see some favourites perform. “We have been around for quite a while now so we’ve seen a lot of bands come and go in that time. It’s always good to see new bands emerge and I love it every time I see a new band I’ve never heard of or seen before. It’s good to see a more underground scene represented in this kind of festival and it should attract a wide audience.”
This interview was first published in The Music