Blossoms, it’s fair to say, are prolific. Massive breakthrough single ‘Charlemagne’, which landed the band a record deal and a whole heap of radioplay, featured on their self-titled debut album back in 2016.
Since then, there’s been a new record every two years, an outwardly smooth-looking process which has seen them rise to headlining, regularly, to thousands.
Internally, though, it’s been less straightforward. Most recent album ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’, released earlier this year, is their fourth in six years, but follows from a period of reset which took place during Covid, and followed some self doubt and uncertainty.
Despite coming, like clockwork, two years after the previous album, it’s very much a product of the Covid era, and sees frontman Tom Ogden drift off into a far more conceptual realm with his song writing. On the record, he embodies ‘The Writer’, taking a kind of observational angle on the way he produces music.
“I think the concept allowed us to write differently,” Ogden says. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to James Skelly from The Coral. Over lockdown, I was starting to write a few songs, and he was saying we needed to go somewhere with this record.”
“He said to me that it was the fourth record, and we needed to find something. I discovered ‘The Writer’, and we spent a lot of time sending each other songs. I had a cinematic element, then the songs ‘Visions’ and ‘The Sulking Poet’.
“I realised that something was connecting the songs, and then I found the idea of the writer which tied it together. I was looking for something, but it was also a little subconscious.”
“James Skelly really asked me to go a bit deeper, reflecting on achieving a lot so young, which I suppose is what I was talking about in the songs. It was a reflection. I think I might do it again. Maybe not a character like The Writer, but definitely finding new ways of writing songs.”
“When I wrote ‘Your Girlfriend’, that was a bit of a breakthrough for me,” Ogden continues, “writing a song that wasn’t necessarily about myself. Obviously you draw on your own experiences, and those tend to be some of the best songs, but I’m married and settled now and I’ve written about that. Once you’re more settled, you need different inspiration.”
“I had a bit of imposter syndrome, I’d gone from complete obscurity to being well known”
Earlier in his career, Ogden wasn’t always sure when he had found such inspiration. ‘Charlemagne’ wasn’t quite ‘just another song’, but it didn’t really stand out at first, either.
“I remember writing Charlemagne, and to me, if anything I thought another song from back then, ‘Blown Rose’, was a better song,” Ogden remembers. “I knew ‘Charlemagne’ was a good song, but it wasn’t any different from the other songs we had at the time. I suppose once people heard it, and we released it, the audiences decided.”
“That song got us a record deal, and of course the people at the record labels know what they’re doing, and they expose it to that kind of mass audience. I love the song, and sometimes when you’re playing it, it feels funny, as you’ve played it so many times.
Sometimes I’m not focusing and hear it for what it is, and I think, ‘ah right, I know why people like this’. But I never thought it would be what it has been.”
There was a difference in the process around the hit single, though, and that’s something that Ogden has been able to carry forward.
“It was the first song where I made a conscious effort to make a riff and a chorus, with words to that riff, that exaggerated the catchiness I suppose,” he says. “The intro part became the chorus eventually.”
“There was a song called ‘Honey Sweet’, the single after ‘Charlemagne’, that should have been as big as Charlemagne, I think. I suppose the radio had smashed ‘Blown Rose’ and ‘Charlemagne’, and it’s probably harder the third time around. But I always loved ‘Honey Sweet’, which is still a big song within our fanbase.”
Those were the early days, though, and while he’s always been a fan of hooks, that particularly radio friendly period is something Ogden has almost consciously let go of.
“The last record was obviously less radio friendly,” he says. “As a songwriter, though, I’ve not really struggled to write catchy songs. There’s always been a number of possible singles. It’s not conscious, it’s just in my DNA as a songwriter. I grew up listening to ABBA, so melodic and catchy come naturally to me.”
The period of self doubt that shook Ogden a little came around the time of Covid, and the year before. It was fortunate for the band, if not the wider world, that a natural reset was on the horizon.
“Covid kind of worked for us,” Ogden says. “2019 had been difficult for me. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin on stage. I had a bit of imposter syndrome, I’d gone from complete obscurity to being well known, and there being an expectation around what I should be.
“I’m quite self critical. Just after Covid arrived, I felt a bit gutted as we’d found a good live streak, but it did work really well to hit pause and think about the fourth record a bit more. We appreciated it more when we came back.”
"It’s not conscious, it’s just in my DNA as a songwriter. I grew up listening to ABBA, so melodic and catchy come naturally to me.”
The comeback turned out to be particularly spectacular, a show on the 2nd of May 2021 that marked the first large show – an audience of around 5,000 – in the post-Covid era in England.
“We did that show at Sefton park in Liverpool that was the first back after Covid, for anyone in England, and I think it’s the closest we’ll ever get to playing our first show again in a way,” Ogden remembers.
“It was incredible. It was the longest we’d ever gone without playing a show, and the crowd were so hyped up. I’d never seen anything like it, and we felt like it was a big moment for the industry, too, so it was exciting.”
“After that the restrictions were still there and that was difficult. It’s a lot more relaxed now, but then, we felt if one of us got it we’d have to pull the shows.
“So we did everything we could. We didn’t go out for meals… we literally just stayed on the tour bus, played the shows, and got back on the tour bus. It was a different way to tour. This tour is great, as it feels back to normal.”
Of course, being a band now considered to be much deeper into their career comes with its own challenges.
“It’s becoming harder and harder to fit in all the singles people want to hear and also the album tracks from the most recent album, so we’ve been testing the water each night, swapping out album cuts from this record,” Ogden explains.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. There’s a core setlist of about 16 tunes, and then we sub in and out songs on different nights, and change the order to keep it fresh. The days of keeping the setlist for a whole tour are gone
The Dublin show, we’re told, is an old favourite for the band, a seasonal love in that this time around will be followed by a summer return (as well as their own headline show, Blossoms are also scheduled to support The Kooks in Dublin in 2023).
“The Dublin Olympia is my favourite venue, anywhere,” Ogden says. “We supported Paul Weller there in 2015, and The Last Shadow Puppets in 2016, and then we’ve gone on to play there ourselves.
“It’s the intimacy, it looks beautiful, and we always end up playing Dublin around Christmas, so we end up in the Temple Bar with all this festive stuff. It feels like Christmas to me. I’m buzzing with coming back.”
“If someone asked me to get up in Temple Bar afterwards I’d do it. I’m not sure that’s how it works, though, so I’ll probably stay quiet in the corner.”
It’s not Dublin, though, but New York that stands out in Ogden’s writing. He’s talked recently about the influence of Paul Simon, in particular, on his sound. There’s also a closer personal connection, too.
“Katie, my wife, and I spend time in New York each year, and it’s become a special place for us,” he says. “Obviously when I’m touring, she’s working, so it’s our time together, after New Year. It’s always freezing, but it’s the only time we get to spend off together.
“I fell in love with the place. It’s everything I wanted it to be, like stepping into a movie set. Oddly, ‘Ode To NYC’ was written for a Netflix show, though they didn’t use it. That’s how it came about, but I love the place.”
Once the tour’s over, and the New Year trip to New York complete, thoughts will turn, however briefly, to a fifth record that patterns suggest might arrive sometime in 2024.
“We’re always looking ahead,” Ogden says. “I’m already writing for the fifth album, and I just want to keep enjoying it. We enjoy spending time together. Staying inspired, enjoying ourselves, and not staying in one lane, is the long term plan.”
Blossoms play Olympia Theatre, Dublin, on December 6. Tickets here. Blossom will open for The Kooks in Dublin’s Fairview Park this June 28th.