Black Midi on the influences for their latest LP, Hellfire

Uncut catches up with Black Midi on tour in America - with contemporaries Black Country, New Road - and their latest album, Hellfire

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Chess-playing, concept-album-loving jazz proggers, BLACK MIDI are the British alternative scene’s ambitious eccentrics. We catch them on tour in America – with contemporaries Black Country, New Road – where their latest album, Hellfire – a song cycle about war, prostitution and death – is going down a storm. Tom Pinnock hears how Count Dracula, Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds and “circus music” have helped shape their exhilarating 2022, in the latest issue of Uncut magazine – in UK shops from Thursday, November 10 and available to buy from our online store.

Six weeks into an American tour, when most young bands are losing their minds, Black Midi are in a Chicago apartment playing chess.

“You have to move the king, bro, you’re in check,” singer and guitarist Geordie Greep calls to the band’s live keyboardist Seth Evans, aka Shank, before turning back to the phone. “Neither of us are good at it, but we’re just passing time, having a laugh. There are sections in Nabokov novels where he talks about chess problems, and I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about. H6, B4, all this… I’m like, ‘Get back to the incest, please…’”


Aside from the trauma of terrible pizza the night before – “Where to begin?” says a broken Shank – things are going pretty well out here in the New World, where this London trio – Greep, drummer Morgan Simpson and bassist and co-frontman Cameron Picton, all still in their early twenties – are busy breaking America. The fans here are younger than in the UK, and scarily enthusiastic, even moshing to the band’s quiet songs.

“It’s been great,” enthuses Greep, chess pieces clattering in the background. “No complaints. The crowds have been so energetic, they’re really excited, it’s pretty brilliant.”

“It’s just crazy,” agrees Simpson. “It feels like we’re a bit more understood [here] – and even if they don’t get it, whatever you bring to the table, they’ll receive it.”


For the first month of the tour, they were joined by their friends Black Country, New Road, regrouping after the departure of frontman Isaac Wood just days before the release of second album Ants From Up There earlier in 2022.

“We had a fucking great time with Black Midi,” says Tyler Hyde, Black Country’s singer and bassist. “But we’d reached our limit, maybe because it was actually our first ever proper tour. Just thinking about them going on to do another month seems impossible. They’re machines!”

Like Hyde says, Black Midi certainly have stamina: this is their third US tour of 2022 and, along with European shows when they return home, it’s topping off a triumphant, hectic year for them. Their latest LP Hellfire is their best: a brave, ambitious and complex record.

“We are less self-conscious about the kind of music we want to make at the end of the day,” explains Greep, “and more comfortable with just saying, ‘Yeah, sure. Let’s do this crazy music, these crazy songs…’”

Black Country, New Road’s Lewis Evans well remembers Black Midi’s first ever gig in June 2017; or at least, hearing their music through the walls of Brixton’s Windmill as the teenagers supported his band, the proto-Black Country outfit Nervous Conditions.

“I remember being really cocky in those days,” he says, “and being like, ‘I’m not gonna watch whoever else is playing.’ I remember being outside as they played and thinking, ‘Shit, this sounds really good… That band’s better than our band!’ It was really annoying.”



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