Daniel Dylan Wray gets weather envy as he talks to Brisbane psych siblings Blank Realm.


As I sit on the phone to Australia at 8 in the morning, I slug on espresso, gazing out of my window at a dreary, lifeless sky, looking like it might simply vaporise or implode out of sheer desperation or boredom. The streets are lined with a silver, slimy sludge – dirt coated snow slowly melting away, leaving just yet another slab of grey concrete underneath as the bite of the winter’s morning shivers through the windowpane and leaves an aching cold hanging in the air. About halfway through my conversation with Blank Realm’s Daniel Spencer, after a constant reoccurring noise that pierces and clicks loudly in the background of the phone-line, I have to stop him dead and ask, “Can I hear crickets in the background?” He laughs. “Yeah, I’m sat out on the porch. The wildlife is kinda loud out here”. While this Brisbane-based psyche-garage outfit may be on the other (currently way more appealing) side of the world, their recent signing to the excellent Fire Records probably means that we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of them, and not without good reason.

The band consists of three siblings Daniel, Luke and Sarah Spencer, along with their “spiritual brother” Luke Walsh. “We would always spend time together and do fun and creative things like put on plays as kids,” Daniel tells me, “but it wasn’t until we got into our twenties that we started picking up instruments and playing together, just making a noise together.” Many bands consisting of family members often crack and collapse as a result of ruminating and bubbling, misplaced nepotism, jealously or seething rivalry; in the case of Blank Realm, however, the family unit of the group actually proves somewhat conducive, as Daniel tells me “we don’t really fight that much. And if we ever do, or disagree over musical matters it’s always more important and necessary to make up, just because it’s a brother or sister – anything else seems trivial.”

The members’ collective mind-sets were turned on by similar influences – “I mean we all had our mind’s blown by bands like Pere Ubu and CAN. Lot’s of Krautrock and post-punk stuff,” says Daniel – and absorbing other people’s music in mass quantities is something the group have always continued to do as they’ve got older. “I sometimes think having a drug habit would be cheaper than having a record buying habit,” Daniel chuckles. “I’m due to move house this weekend and I’m not looking forward to moving my records. It’s like carting around barrels of crude oil.”

Blank Realm have been doing the underground rounds for some years now, their earlier records mostly coated in a heavy but hazy swath of pysch-noise-drone, disparately put out by various labels over the years. They have been championed and released by Los Angeles imprint Not Not Fun and the home-brewed Bedroom Suck, the latter releasing their most recent, and rather glorious, album ‘Go Easy’, which Fire subsequently picked up and are about to re-release to the wider world. “Yeah, it’s a bit strange,” says Daniel. “We made that record about two years ago but it’s given it a new lease of life, so it’s fun to play those songs again.”

Those songs are not quite the shattering slabs of unrelenting guitar wailings that soaked Blank Realm’s earlier work but instead are presented as a group of refined, albeit no less raucous, bursts of garage-pop. The album reaches a dizzying peak via the elongated grooves of ‘Pendulum Swing’, which somehow manages to sound like the perfect amalgamation of the best of Deerhunter with the most enticing parts of The War on Drugs.

‘Go Easy’ is set to get a release on pink vinyl, something the group are in unified delight over. “One of the things about working with a lot of smaller labels in the past is that they are all on pretty tight budgets,” Daniel explains, “but we’ve always wanted to put out a heavy vinyl in pink and now we can.”

I say that this is Blank Realm’s own version of rock’n’roll flamboyance and extravagance. “Ha ha ha , yeah,” Daniel bursts. “It’s our version of having a limo and pouring champagne all over ourselves, I guess.”

Daniel is soft-spoken, and although a loquacious fellow, he’s also pretty mellow and relaxed too. Like his response to many questions, when asked of the balance struck between the noise and pop elements on ‘Go Easy’, his answer is: “it wasn’t really something we thought about.” Placed in the context of the group’s lineage, it makes perfect, abundant sense. This album marks the first ever time that concentrated song writing has actually taken place. “Before we would just take jams and turn them into songs,” says Daniel, “but with this album we sat down and wrote out the songs and worked on them.”

As we say goodbye, even Daniel’s accent feels gleaming and sun-drenched.  I glance once again outside and it begins to fling down in that twisted, rancid fusion of snow and rain – just a hurtling bag of wet and cold. I scowl and frown; at whom or what, I’m not even sure. It might be my mind playing tricks on me, but I swear I can hear Daniel popping an ice cold beer open in the background as he no doubt sits there, feet stretched out on a throne-like rocking chair on his nature-surrounded, mansion of a porch. As I hang up the phone, I get ready to hit the sleet-ridden streets of the post-industrial landscape of the north of England.

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