Eventim Spotlights recently spoke with Alex Blood & The Diggers, a genre mashing banding punk, rock, rap and reggae, forging a sound “impossible to pigeonhole”.
Fronted by lyricist Alex Blood, whose solo career includes collaborations with international artists Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse, as well as touring with Jay-Z, who’s lyrical wit, reminiscent of the classic punk poets, Alex Blood & The Diggers have gained support from BBC Introducing and an army of fans.
Recent gigs include support slots for acts such as Labrinth, Chase & Status, Devlin, Asian Dub Foundation, The Beat, Dreadzone, Jerry Dammers of The Specials, headlining Night & Day in Manchester and The Jam Cafe in Nottingham. With rave reviews for their energetic and dance floor filling sets.
We caught up with Alex Blood ahead of their Discovery 2 live show on Thursday 30 October.
When did you start writing lyrics?
I started writing lyrics when I was about 9-10 years old. I used to put on concerts in my room for my mum and dad to come and watch. I can’t say they were my deepest or most revered pieces of work though. I just progressed from there. Never stopped really.
What is it about words that you love?
I love how words can create a picture in your head. Your head has to create the visual to the words you hear in a song or piece, just like it does when you read a good novel or book. But music has the added dimension of sound and musical notes to conjure up feelings and emotions to go with it.
I personally love how words can inspire and provoke, my work is quite provocative and slightly comical in places, and I like saying things that people think but don’t say, or express sentiments that we all feel at certain times of our lives.
When did you start producing and what have been your favourite projects so far?
I started producing as soon as I started rapping as a kid. I quickly realised I needed backing music to my raps and songs, and I didn’t know anyone in my school who knew anything about it. So I started old school style and used my double tape decks record and pause functions to make loops of breaks in tracks. Then I just moved to computers and carried on making the back drops to my words.
How did you meet The Diggers, and how long have you been working together?
The Diggers are pretty much my Frankenstein’s monster. I set the band up around my songs. I had a bunch of material that only really translated live in the form of a band. I’m heavily inspired by Ian Dury and The Blockheads, and I loved the way he had such a cool band backing him, but he was a separate entity, giving him the freedom to express personal opinions and sentiments and not drag the band down with him! That’s why I went with Alex Blood & The Diggers, and not just The Diggers. But now they have taken on a life of their own and I’m losing control of them. Its backfiring but I’ll get a handle on it!
For the readers who haven’t heard about it yet, can you tell us more about your A Thousand Words project?
A Thousand Words is a project I’m running in the city I’m from, Derby. It’s my first project as a coordinator and not as a participatory artist. It’s funded by the Arts Council and the basic premise is taking artistic photographs of the city centre and then using those photographs as inspiration and stimulus for new musical pieces and songs. I assembled a group of 5 artists that I felt would bring the voice of the city and they created the tracks which were now performing around the region to a back drop of the photos. It’s been a great experience for me to facilitate that creativity and to now have that artwork there for people to enjoy. The website is athousandwordsproject.com and you can see and read all about that there.
Tell us about two artists that inspire you?
Right now I think I’m going to say Maverick Sabre. My inspirations change almost daily, but I went to see his show in Sheffield last week and I’ve always being a fan of his music but I can quite honestly say his live show presented his songs 100 times better than the actual recordings. Passionate, passionate performance and amazing vocals. More often the live shows don’t live up to the records but this was the total opposite. So that inspires me to do the same in my shows.
More local to me would be have to be my good pal Jamie Joseph. He’s a mate of mine from Derby whose a soul singer and he’s just being signed to Sony RCA on a major deal, which is great for every one locally especially me and The Diggers as we’re on the road with him here and there, but it’s a lad from home whose en route to make it and that’s very inspiring.
Do you have a career highlight from all the work you’ve done over the past decade?
I’ve got loads really, and it’s kinda wearing thin with me now, but I really have to say that running out on stage to 10,000 people at Manchester Arena when I was performing with Mark Ronson on the Jay Z tour a few years back. This was back when The Diggers were just a twinkle in my eye, but it planted the seed for me to expand my work into live music. It was a bit like an outer body experience, to go from doing small local shows to performing in an arena like that. It was like a 3 minute appearance but all the same, one to remember.
What projects have you got coming up in the next few months?
The main project coming up is the brand new Digger EP. We’re calling it our first “proper” ep. We’ve released 2 EPs already which were sort of us developing ourselves and testing the water, building a fan base. But just recently we feel like we’ve struck oil with a particular sound and were really excited about getting an EP together that we feel really is the The Diggers. We’re hoping for big things for it.
Got a few big festivals lined up for next year too, so fingers crossed were going to be smashing onto the airwaves and stages nationwide.
What should we expect from your Discovery 2 show?
You can expect energy and dance floor skankers to make the whole crowd move, but also some lyrics that will have you chuckling, and choruses that will have you singing along first time round. We’ve played Discovery 2 before and it’s a great promotion that never fails to be a good show, so we’re looking forward to being back.
We will not disappoint so make sure you bring as many people as you can to see us while were cheap. Next year its 50 quid a ticket!!!
You can see Alex Blood live in London at Discovery 2 on Thursday 30 October alongside DIA, Tom Jarvis and Kiwi. Get your Discovery 2 tickets now at eventim.co.uk