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Uttoxeter rockers Blame talk about joining a UK tour with My Own Worst Enemy hitmakers Lit

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ALMOST all of us will recall LIT’s breakthrough hit ‘My Own Worst Enemy’. If however, the title doesn’t ring familiar, then the opening riff and accompanying melody will soon have the memories flooding back.

A worldwide hit, the song was used in Hollywood movies and perpetually occupied both radio and music television the entire summer of its release. In addition to the single My Own Worst Enemy, the band’s platinum selling breakthrough album A Place In The Sun also gave way to follow up hits Miserable and Zip Loc which cemented the band’s position as scene leaders.

2014 marks the 15th anniversary of the chart topping album and to commemorate the occasion the band headed to the UK for a celebratory tour.

Uttoxeter based rockers Blame were personally invited to support Lit. This came about when Lit vocalist A Jay Popoff made an effort to contact Blame frontman Sam Johnson and tell him that he thought their band was great and that he’d personally requested they play the tour.

Blame guitarist James Brighouse said: “I grew up listening to those guys. When Sam told me that A Jay had been in touch I was a little lost for words. In a game as competitive as this it’s rare you receive compliments from fellow musicians at all – let alone from your favourite artists.”

No, it’s not every day that you hear words of support from your favourite fellow musicians and yet somehow this is actually the second time now for the guys in Blame. Last summer saw the band invited out to support multi-platinum selling US rockers Everclear which is another of Brighouse’ favourite bands.

The first date of the bands UK tour was in Glasgow. “The last time we were here it was snowing” added Brighouse. “The hot weather sort of gave the A Place In The Sun tour a great feel – they definitely bought the sun with them from California,” continues Johnson.

“We met Lit during load in - the venue (The Cathouse) was tucked away in the city centre so the tour bus had to sit on the street out front,” Brighouse told the Post and Times, “it was all a little hectic.”

Johnson said: “Having talked for so long over text message, it was great to finally meet in person and cement our friendship over a drink.

“The last time we played in Glasgow we went down so well there was a kind of a pressure to do just as well this time. Not knowing how the new songs would go down live was added concert but with the reaction we got right from our first song it was obvious our worries weren’t needed and in fact, the amount of pictures and autographs we signed after the show cemented that Glasgow really is one if the best places to play for crowd participation.”

For the second date of the tour the bands made their way south to the Manchester Academy. Blame were joined by photographer Tony Wooliscroft on this date, who works with some of Blame’s favourite bands.

Mr Wooliscroft is official photographer to Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and more.

Johnson said: “To have the backing and approval of somebody of Tony’s stature in the music business is great. He shot us throughout the day, during sound check, backstage and he was shooting away throughout our set, he even commented on how well we went down with the crowd that night.”

The tour rolled into the capital for it’s third date. The Electric Ballroom, Camden is a two thousand capacity venue with a rich musical history.

“With the sun bearing down it was almost a shame to duck inside for soundcheck”, Brighouse confessed.

“We stood with the guys from Lit, reading the ‘story’ behind the venue and the names of the bands that had graced the stage,” Sam recalled. “There’s an instant sense of history when you walk in even the backstage dressing rooms are like old terraced house bedrooms.

“You’re left thinking of the bands that have sat up there overlooking Camden market, you feel you’re at the centre of it all – The Clash, Sex Pistols, Joy Division, The Smiths, anyone who’s anyone”.

As with all of the dates on the tour fans made their way to the venue early in the hope that they would get to meet the bands or secure a spot near the front.

“Sitting in the dressing room overlooking Camden, seeing all of the hustle and bustle; the shouting market traders, the queues for the show slowly building you feel if anything’s going to happen it’s tonight. A real sense of occasion.” Johnson said.

“There’s a mixture of awe at the bands who’ve played here before you and for the bands that could only wish to play such a revered venue.

“The pride and atmosphere float you to the stage. You feel a slight pressure to uphold tradition as well as great pride in the fact that we’re here – an unsigned band playing to a near capacity crowd so you want to do it for all the real musicians out there, those working for every tiny step on a seemingly never ending ladder. Tonight was for them just as much as it was for us.”

By the time Blame hit the stage the venue was near full capacity. “The crowd was incredible”, Brighouse said. “It’s one of the largest audiences we’ve played to.”

Blame bassist James Miller said: “Reality hits you when you walk out on stage to 2,000 people - that is one memory that will stick with me for years to come. There is no better feeling than being up on that stage and looking across at your friends who are, in turn ‘rocking out’ and clearly loving every moment.”

“Lit brought their ‘A Game’ each and every night,” Brighouse added. “Their on stage energy is unreal. Birmingham was no exception either – in fact, they stretched their set a little in the second city, managed to throw a couple of their newer tracks out there, particular favourites of mine too”.

The Institute Library Birmingham comprised the forth stop on the tour. Once more the band were joined by a photographer for both a pre show and an on stage shoot.

Stafford based photographer Jody Cunningham snapped away whilst the band explored the venue. Much to their surprise Blame were joined by Lit vocalist A Jay Popoff for a number of group shots.

Between advanced ticket sales, purchases on the door and the bands guest list the venue quickly reached capacity and for the forth night running the bands were privy to a full house.

Johnson said: “Birmingham is sort of a ‘home coming’ show for us with plenty of local support, early signs suggest that we may have gained a lot of new fans from that show too.”

Miller added: “Birmingham was a great show, one we classed as our ‘home crowd’ and it was great to see some familiar faces. The good lady wife also got a day out shopping and I got a ‘rock n roll’ haircut at Aceface Barbers, which was fun.

“We love playing to crowds that are local to us and it’s something I hope we will be doing again soon.”

The fifth night of the night of the tour took the bands to the south west and The Fleece in Bristol, which was the first date of the tour to sell out in advance.

Brighouse said: “Again a great venue with a great track record for showcasing big names. We just stood marvelling at the venue calendar.

“Some of our own fans had bought tickets to almost every date of the tour. Mind blowing dedication really. Real troopers too.

“They followed us night by night. Standing out front before sound check in Bristol was the first real chance I’d had to spend some time talking to these guys until then we’d been competing with club volume and stage noise.

“As it turns out, chatting to them was absolutely fascinating for me, one of them had followed the original ‘Lamefest tour’ in ’91; witnessing the humble beginnings of ‘grunge’, whereby Nirvana were supporting fellow Seattle based acts Tad and Mudhoney.

“He was even wearing the original tour t shirt - the thing must have been worth thousands - literally. Anybody who knows me, knows I’m nothing but a fan boy when it comes to those bands and that era.” With the venue packed to capacity and the stage lights radiating over head the night was set to be hot affair.

Miller said: “Bristol was a highlight because it’s such a great bohemian city and seemed to have a really cool vibe about it. As soon as the room filled up, just in time for our set, you could just sense the crowd were up for a good time.

“They didn’t disappoint, really got involved and danced. If the crowd are enjoying it, you as an artist enjoy it. Simple!”

The final night of the tour ushered the bands towards the southern city of Reading and the nights venue, Sub 89 and The Bowery.

“I guess we were a little subdued come the last date of the tour,” Brighouse said. “It’s always a little sad to reach the end of these adventures.”

Reading was the night of the tour that had sold the least in terms of advanced tickets sales too. It was a turn up for the books when the numbers climbed to near capacity on the door.

The guitarist added: “Would’ve been a shame not playing to a full house the last night of their stint in the UK when the house packed out I think we were all pleasantly surprised.”

Reading’s date also offered clarity to Miller’s brief summary of touring with Lit - ‘Six simple words. Don’t leave your water bottles unattended’.

Brighouse said: “The night started out like normal. Little Rob; our tour tech’ loaded the stage with fresh water, ready for the show. We head out on to the stage, crack into the first number and we see Lit’s stage tech’ rustling about - we just presume he’s prepping equipment ready for their show.

“He darts back off and we think nothing of it. Eventually, we reach a break between the second and third song and after tuning my guitar I reach across for a bottle of water. I unscrew the cap, chug away and there’s this odd, sharp taste”

Johnson added “Walking on stage that night we weren’t concerned with any nerves - just knowing it was the last show and knowing there’s usually some tom foolery afoot at the end of a tour but nothing.

“Our sound was good, our mics were ‘clean’ - we’d gotten away with it.

“That was until third song in. As the last chords rang out all three of us reached for our water, took a well earned gulp and all three simultaneously spat it straight back out, looking to the side of the stage to see Lit in stitches and five little red lights from their phone’ cameras - They’d got us.”

Brighouse said: “Thing is between songs, under those lights, you really could do with a drink, just to knock the edge off. Before managing to swallow any back I quickly realised that it wasn’t water, that it was actually pure vodka.

“I shake it off and glance across the stage, yeah, Miller, Sam, both made the same mistake. I hear Sam say something down the mic: ‘I’ve got Lit playing tricks on me here’ he says and I look off stage to the right and there they are, all of the guys from Lit, lined up and creasing with laughter. If only we’d had the chance to swap their on stage booze for water.”

With almost every date completely sold out the chaps in Blame consider the tour another fortunate success. To date the band have scored two consecutive top ten UK Rock Chart singles, a top 20 ’Spotify Recommended’ DIY debut album, received a wealth of international air play and generous editorial coverage.

Brighouse said: “We’re extremely grateful for the opportunities we’ve had. I’m not discounting the hard work involved year after year of playing in bands and ‘learning the ropes’ led us to this point. We do owe a lot to the people around us though too.

“We have extremely supportive families. My wife Samantha is actually the band’s tour manager and she does a fantastic job planning our itinerary, booking transport and hotels. We’re very fortunate to have such key people involved.”

On touring bass player Miller said: “The thing I enjoyed most about actually being on the road was that the van was our ‘little home’ where we could talk about anything from music, movies and the past times we spent growing up in and around Uttoxeter”.

Live drummer Toby Caffery said: “For me, it was all about the music, beer, sushi and one hell of a hangover.”

Blame are currently working on new recordings with the iconic Seattle based producer Chris Hanzsek. As owner and engineer at the now legendary Reciprocal Recordings in Seattle Chris has a client list which includes Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Mudhoney and The Afghan Whigs.

Aside from continuing work with their own band the guys in Blame have some other ambitions in the pipeline, “I’d read that Uttoxeter might be hosting it’s own radio station?” Brighouse said. “Radio Utch? If this comes to light I’d like to get involved in some capacity; hosting, producing maybe. I’d love to take what we’ve accomplished and apply it elsewhere. I’m a something of a ‘crusader’ for our town.”

Brighouse and Johnson created their own moniker under which they release and distribute their music. ‘Dark Days Recordings’ came about as a launch pad from which Blame could release and promote their singles, albums and music videos. The two are now considering opening this up to include and showcase new talent.

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