Interview: How Abattoir Blues found their senses

​How Abattoir Blues found their senses

One of Brighton’s best bands are on the up. There’s a brilliant new single in the wings and Nick Cave hasn’t tried to sue them (yet). Nothing could possibly go wrong for Abattoir Blues.

Credit to Abattoir Blues, a Brighton five-piece who’ve made a name for themselves without so much as a penny to their name. For the past couple of years, their ferocious post-punk has been put to tape in home studios, The Magic Gang’s Kristian Smith on production duties. Two members - frontman Harry Sinclair Waugh and guitarist George Boorman - share a house with fellow Brighton bands. It’s one big happy family. But the group have been longing for a bid outdoors for some time.

At the start of summer, they had their first “proper studio” experience, recording the almighty ‘Sense’ with Blood Red Shoes’ Steven Ansell. “We’d been working within our means for a while,” admits George. Surrounded by snazzy equipment for the first time, they worked two sixteen hour days. “And we all went a bit potty,” claims Harry.

It’s the Blood Red Shoes man’s fault. He thought it’d be a good idea to record “sober takes” and then a few more, post-consuming two bottles of whiskey. “I went in to do some overdubs on guitar and I could barely stand up,” remembers George. “Steve couldn’t be annoyed because it was his idea,” pipes Harry.

The producer should have seen it coming. While building a must-see live reputation, Abattoir Blues have been known to stumble shambolically through fire-starting sets. Booze isn’t their muse, but post-hangovers, the group realised they needed to move on from from a “gimmick”.

“I get incredibly nervous before playing, so getting drunk has always been a way of dealing with that”

— Harry Sinclair Waugh, Abattoir Blues

“About a year ago, we tried to put a cap on it,” says Harry. “At The Great Escape last year, I was really nervous. I drank loads of whiskey and ended up falling over the drum kit - it was a bit of a travesty. My dad was at the gig and he put me to bed. The next day, I never wanted to repeat that experience.”

Somehow, a tour with fellow trouble-makers Yak ended up being a turning point. “Yak are actually professionals,” claims George (yeah suuuuure - Ed). “ I was really embarrassed by [the drinking],” reflects Harry. “I get incredibly nervous before playing, so getting drunk has always been a way of dealing with that. But I’ve since learnt how to play without booze, and that was a really nice thing.”

“A lot of big bands use it as a gimmick,” claims drummer Scott Kennedy. “[But] it’s hard to stop yourself.”

Even without the booze, Abattoir Blues have been at the frenzied centre of local shows. A bright pack of bands is emerging from the coast, and all of them have developed without being under the scary, all-knowing watch of London.

After taking their time, these five especially appear to have landed on their own two feet. ‘Sense’ is a remarkable step up, one of the breakthroughs of the year. A deftly-applied, delicate build, it’s a far cry from the Eagulls comparisons their bolshy early work was lumped with. Suddenly they sound like a band breaking out of the coast’s confines. All it took was one studio experience and a healthy dose of whiskey.

Taken from the July 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe below.

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