Black Midi Q&A: End Of The Road Festival 2022 – Day 2

Frontman Geordie Greep dreams of Vegas notoriety and Pointless

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Black Midi are slowly poisoning us. With wild ideas. “We’ve been spoon-feeding a bit more each time,” says Geordie Greep, Black Midi singer and, it transpires, unlikely wit and bon vivant of the freak rock fraternity. “It’s like in The Princess Bride where he can drink poison because he has a little bit every day. We’ve given it a little bit more shit so now it’s really good. It gets the same eight-out-of-ten but it’s a far cry from the goodness it once was.”

He speaks of the frenetic eclecticism of most recent album Hellfire, at the first of End Of The Road’s daily Uncut Q&As with our very own Tom Pinnock on the Talking Heads stage. In conversation he’s as fascinatingly changeable as the album. One minute he’s delivering insightful rock wisdoms: “You only got so much time. And if you try and do something that you know you definitely can’t do, then maybe your failure will be interesting.” The next he’s frothing over the idea of appearing on Pointless. “I would love that. I wanna go on the everyman’s one. I want to win that cash prize. A thousand pounds to go on a little package holiday. I want to be seen by geriatrics across the globe, get myself a rich widow, get written into some wills.”

Facing accusations of Hellfire flirting with the ridiculous, he’s graciously sanguine. “Thank you,” he says. “Ridiculous might be an insult sometimes but usually it’s a way of saying something is different or unique or individual, and isn’t that one of the main goals? Even if it is stupid and bizarre, once reined in it’ll become something original and good. Or maybe all of it is rubbish.”


In a broad, roaming discussion, Greep discusses his changing attitude to salsa music – hating it for being “the most brash, annoying, really irritating music you can think of” when forced to sit in on his mother’s classes as a child, now a major convert – and unrepentantly defends his Brit School past. “There’s a weird public perception of the school as a sheltered or privileged thing or whatever,” he argues, “but the only barrier to entry is an audition, based on skill, all sorts of people go there. There’s loads of people that it’s on public record they went there, but it’s not really a point. Imogen Heap or FKA Twigs. It’s less of a sin to have gone. But it’s a great school, I think they’re doing a great thing and I hope it goes on for many more years. No bankruptcy in sight.”

America, where Black Midi have played two tours this year and return on Monday, gets a more mixed review. “It’s cool,” he says, “but somewhere I’d never ever, ever, ever in a million years want to live. It’s an awful place. It’s like Disneyland, who’d want to live in Disneyland? You have your crazy two months but you know there’s an end – on this day I go home. If you live there, it’s ‘wait, where’s the end? I’m stuck in this horrible place’. Some people are born there. I consider myself lucky.” What do they make of you? “To be honest, our best crowds are there. I might even end up having to live there. Much younger crowd, which is always better because they buy more merchandise and they’re more susceptible to advertising. And in the shows there’s just more energy.”

Fascinating insights into the recording process of Steve Albini – with whom the band recorded recent flexidisc tracks – emerge. “It’s good to work with someone who basically treats it like a science. He’s not really interested in commenting or anything to do with the musical aspects of it or the worth of it. The only thing he’s interested in when recording a band or artist is the fidelity. Are there any technical issues? When you’re recording the vocals all he listens to in the mix room is the solo vocal and, like, a drum track or a bass track. It doesn’t even sound like music, really. He’s literally just listening for technical imperfections. You finish a take and say, ‘How was that, Steve?’ He says, ‘I don’t really see a technical imperfection’. So he doesn’t care about your performance, which is good because he’s an engineer at the end of the day. You should respect any wrong choice that the band wants to make. If they want to make a terrible album… at least it’s gonna sound good. If an architect makes an absolutely garish, hideous building, you’ve still got to lay the bricks as usual if you’re just the builder. You don’t you say, ‘oh, man, I really think the left wing’s a bit naff, don’t build it’.”


Midi fans, though, are perhaps more interested in the fate of the mysterious Orange Tree Boys, the bluesy sometime Black Midi “support band” who share many attributes with the band. Such as their faces. “The band from Las Vegas?” Geordie says, playing along with the alter-ego conceit like a pro. “They’re really good. They’re like a kind of a throwback blues ensemble. They’ve had a bit of trouble. A lot of their tours were cut short due to visa issues. I don’t know if they can go across the Nevada state line anymore.”

Might he ever decide to join the band for good? “Blues bands have an infinite revenue stream,” Greep says. “There’s always some guys listening to blues music. If this fizzles out, jump on the phone, plane to Vegas and just do your blues residency. Easy money… Start every day, Jamesons. I’ll lose it all, all I wanna do is play the blues.”

Catch up with the rest of Uncut’s End Of The Road Festival 2022 coverage here:

Khruangbin, Sudan Archives: End Of The Road Festival 2022 – Day 1
Naima Bock, James Yorkston, Black Midi: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 2
Tinariwen, Fleet Foxes, Beak: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 2
The Weather Station Q&A: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 3
The Magnetic Fields, Kevin Morby: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 3
Pixies, Margo Cilker, The Weather Station: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 3
Kurt Vile Q&A: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 4
10 Highlights From End Of The Road Festival 2022 – Day 4
Yard Act, Bright Eyes: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 4
Aldous Harding, Ryley Walker, Cassandra Jenkins: End Of The Road 2022 – Day 4


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