It’s been another year for Danish four piece The William Blakes, and world-wide fame and recognition continues to elude them. While this is no doubt frustrating for the band, it does give us the opportunity to see one of rock’s most underrated bands at relatively small venues. As they roll through Copenhagen again, it’s worth catching them, for there’s no telling when that big break may come.
Naming their first album Wayne Coyne after the singer of The Flaming Lips, The William Blakes don’t seem to mind shouting their influences out to all that will listen. This is refreshing in itself. The William Blakes borrow heavily from a number of pop acts, The Flaming Lips among them, but they use these influences in the best possible way, blending what’s popular at the moment and fusing them into their own songs. They ride the ‘80s revival wave with a mixture of passion and humour, making for a well-rounded sound that’s still in the process of evolving.
Releasing their first record in 2008, this four piece enjoys a solid fan base in Denmark and Sweden, although little is known of them outside Scandinavia. Their album Dear Known Friend was released last year and earned the band solid reviews, with their European shows attracting wider attention. Their live performances often feature additional musicians on stage, and it’s not uncommon for the band to swell to as many as eight, creating a solid sound that does well to keep the audience entertained. Most impressive is their use of two live drummers, who square off and face each other, creating a syncopated backbone that drives the music forwards.
The band combines pop and rock nicely into a form of music that is easily pleasing. The rhythms are solid and dance-inspired, and a combination of guitars and keyboards colour the melody section, creating a platform for the singer, Kristian Leth, to do his thing. Leth combines the best of what we’ve come to expect from traditional rock stars, and he has a modern flare reminiscent of The Arcade Fire. He is exciting to watch, fronting the band with a perfect mixture of cool and aloofness.
The band have formed their own record label, ‘Speed of Sound’, giving them infinitely more freedom to record the albums they want to. As well as enabling more creative direction, their record label allows them to release as many albums as they want, bypassing record labels’ often strict release schedules. Speed of Sound has also begun to support other local artists, becoming a much needed outlet for up-and-coming bands.
There’s little doubting it, the band are entertaining. They create a raw energy when playing live, and it’s clear they enjoy themselves. With a diverse range of influences, it’s hard to pin them down, and their songs vary in both depth and scope. The William Blakes are above all a band that exudes positivity, and it’s this fresh approach that will continue to see their popularity grow.