Sheffield-based “glamorous punks” the Long Blondes share more with Brit-pop legends Pulp than their hometown, thrift-store chic and observational lyrics.
Songwriter/guitarist Dorian Cox claims they also share a mailman.
“I’ve met (Pulp singer) Jarvis Cocker a few times, and it’s been a bit weird,” said Cox. “We came to London to record our second album, and me and Kate were living in a flat three doors down from him. I remember we got home around 2 a.m. after recording, and Jarvis pulled up in a taxi. And another time he was putting his recycling outside … We didn’t get a nod; he didn’t really acknowledge us.”
While Cox’s relationship with Cocker seems tenuous, there’s no ambiguity in the influence the bespeckled singer has on the Blondes. Cox connected to Cocker’s upbringing and attitude to life early: he remembers his mom chastising him at 16 for dressing like the musician. That style is now a Blondes signature.
“All the best pop music had that sense of style: David Bowie, the Beatles,” said Cox. “It’s one difference between pop and rock … With a rock group, people’s heads are down and they’re jamming: it’s just guys with guitars.”
In his lyrics, Cox turns to Cocker’s memorable characters, dry wit and melancholy. He avoids the social commentary of Pulp classics like Common People, worried about sounding preachy, but aspires to tell a character’s life in three minutes. For inspiration, when recording Couples, the Blondes pinned up photos of memorable couples. One was of Basil and Sybil Fawlty — a choice part gag and part sober reflection.
“British comedy for me is quite a nostalgic thing. I remember watching Fawlty Towers and Blackadder on TV on a Sunday night … It was part of growing up,” said Cox. “(Those shows) were really funny, but also really dark. Blackadder — in the series set in World War Two — in the last scene they jump over a trench, and it’s quite an emotional scene, it’s a tragedy in a sense.”
– Rob McMahon is a freelance writer. A graduate of UBC’s Journalism program, he contributes to Metro and other publications. Top music memories include a road trip to Coachella and catching Lollapalooza ‘95.