- 21 Sep 19
The Blizzards dreamt up the idea for a satirical half-hour ‘mockumentary’-style film when a radio programmer dissed a new track from the band as ‘too guitar-y’. The result is a kind of two-fingers to that mentality – but Niall Breslin & co are laughing at themselves too....
Discussing his band’s new album, The Last Great Algorithm and the mockumentary that accompanies it, The Blizzards: Behind the Music, Niall Breslin is in talkative form.
“Creativity gets more respect if you lean into the difficult and dark,” he muses. “But creativity is also the ability to tell a story that might be comedic and satirical.”
From Chaucer onwards, English language literature and popular culture have never been shy about having a laugh at the defining social mores of the time – and their underlying pretensions and hypocrisies.
“Satirical – and self-deprecating,” Bressie adds, with a laugh.
There has been a lot of that going on in The Blizzards’ camp over the past few months! This is emphasised in the 30-minute-film, directed by Jeff Doyle, which screened at the IFI, Dublin yesterday evening to a really positive audience reaction.
On the face of it, the movie finds the group questioning their place in a mainstream music scene that seems to have abandoned them and their guitar-driven sound. But, in truth, the film is questioning the fickle and often misguided way in which trends in popular culture – and music in particular – work.
The inspiration for the mockumentary was provided by a real-life radio station music programmer, who dismissed a new Blizzards track as ‘too guitar-y’.
The plot of the mockumentary takes the inevitable ‘WTF?’ reaction as a starting point.
In response, The Blizzards decide to produce an especially guitar-heavy track and call it ‘Who Would Want to Be in a Guitar Band?’, blowing their savings on a flashy promo. “There’s a few IOUs in that video,” Bressie tells Hot Press – and you can see it on-screen. It really is flashy!
When the video goes viral – for the wrong reasons (this is their movie and they can play it whatever way they like) – the band become a laughing stock both in Ireland (Kodaline, The Coronas and Picture This play along mightily) and abroad, where they gain the attention of Perez Hilton, Stormy Daniels, Wheatus and others.
As the band send themselves up royally, with bassist Louize Carroll (looking at the camera in pic above) to the fore, there are some ace one-liners ("Bressie is really talented – we just need to find out what that talent is") and throwaway gags: a show within the mockumentary called ‘Fighting ISIS with Brian McFadden’ is hilarious.
There is a real ‘let’s put on a show’ energy to the whole caper, with celebrities being packed into the final product just for the fun of it. And why not? You have to give the band a huge amount of credit: this is a totally novel way of promoting a new release.
“Everyone was like: ‘Why are you doing this? It’s not a music video. What’s it going to be used for?’”, Bressie smiles. “Who knows where it’ll go? Who cares? I hate this idea that there always must be an outcome.”
The band say the fun they had making the movie is enough to justify its existence. But that’s not the whole story. As it transpires, the charm, energy and wit on display here are sure to win the band new respect – and converts too. And with so many well-known names involved, there's a chance that it might just become a cult streaming hit.
Meanwhile, The Blizzards: Behind the Music could also present a sufficient challenge to the way radio programmers operate, forcing them to think again. After all, what is wrong with guitar bands? It’s a question that might well be asked of Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital and a whole lot more besides in Ireland right now. And the answer, of course, is there’s nothing wrong at all.
• The Last Great Algorithm is released on October 15.