The Blue Aeroplanes’ unique amalgam of rock, folk, poetry, punk, dance and art has been an acknowledged influence on a wide range of bands including REM and Radiohead. Combining pop smarts with serious weirdness, they have released almost thirty albums on various labels, several of which have charted in the UK Top 40 and the US Alternative Top 10.
Their 1990 album ‘Swagger’ was ‘Rock Album Of The Year’ in many publications including The Sunday Times. Ex-members have gone on to play with Massive Attack, Suede, Placebo, Goldfrapp and Primal Scream, while for many years they shared multi-instrumentalist Ian Kearey with folk legends the Oyster Band. They remain the only group to have been banned from The Rainbow Lounge, Lemmy’s favourite hangout, and been invited to play at the Hay-On-Wye Literary Festival.
Now comes the release of the band’s twelfth studio album, ‘Welcome, Stranger!’, recorded by the longest-lasting Aeroplanes line up to date. Original members Gerard Langley (poet/singer), and John Langley (drummer), sometimes with Wojtek Dmochowski (dancer), are joined by Gerard Starkie, formerly the main man of Witness and an Aeroplane since 2006, Chris Sharp (bassist and owner of The Fleece venue in Bristol), a band member since 2008, and the more recent additions Bec Jevons (guitarist and front-person of I Destroy) and guitarist Mike Youe. John and Mike also play with Bristol punk legend (and ex-Aeroplane) Rita Lynch, while Gerard is also Head Of Songwriting at BIMM Bristol, where he was responsible for guiding the early steps of George Ezra, among others.
The Blue Aeroplanes will be touring the UK in January 2017. See full dates below:
O2 Academy 2 Liverpool
Manchester Ruby Lounge
O2 Academy 2 Newcastle
Nottingham Rescue Rooms
O2 Academy Islington
Norwich Arts Centre
The Cavern, Exeter
Buy tickets here: https://www.ents24.com/
The Blue Aeroplanes have always been considered a maverick band. Using banjos and mandolins alongside scratchy post-punk guitars? Having an onstage DJ before hip-hop? Speak-singing poems and songs? Having a male dancer as part of the group? Being from Bristol and not playing trip-hop? Being apparently the only band to have been barred from the Rainbow Lounge, Lemmy’s hangout? Never knowingly involved with any kind of scene, they have always been outsiders.
And yet, with a new album out in January, the current musical climate seems a lot more Aeroplanes-shaped. Speak-singing is now mainstream. Courtney Barnett, Kate Tempest, George the Poet. In 1986 Aeroplanes vocalist Gerard Langley made an acoustic, folk-based album with former Oyster band member Ian Kearey. There were no acoustic instruments on the NME’s defining C86 cassette that year. Now, Ian has made a second duo album, backing Shirley Colllins on her triumphant return to recording, and everyone is mixing electric and acoustic instruments.
James Dean Bradfield has commented that the Aeroplanes were the best live band he had ever seen and the reason the Manics decided to move around on stage [see attached article]. Michael Stipe has written that he only got the nerve to do his ‘E-Bow The Letter’-style vocals after watching Gerard on tour [see attached review]. In Stewart Lee’s recent immortal phrase, the Aeroplanes have gone from being “Television fronted by Philip Larkin to the Drive-By Truckers fronted by Prisoner-era Patrick McGoohan”.
January will see not only the first new Blue Aeroplanes album since 2011’s ‘Anti-Gravity’ but also the publication of Gerard’s ‘Selected Poems & Lyrics’. The album, ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ is supported by a three-week tour and has been recorded by what is now officially the longest-lasting Aeroplanes lineup ever (four and a half years!). Ex-Aeroplane Angelo Bruschini, Massive Attack’s guitarist, has chipped in with some recording expertise.
One of the most important British bands with a continuous history, their time seems (again?) to have finally come. Never having split up, they have never been involved in the nostalgia business, and ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ is a surprisingly contemporary-sounding statement from a genuinely independent and creative band.