[ there's no place like home ]
by Craig Young

The Blueprint are the greatest supergroup you've never heard of -- yet. Comprised of members of Earthtone9, Pitchshifter, and Consumed, the band have defied comparisons to their day jobs and are on a quick course to becoming a household name in the U.K. indie scene, alongside the likes of Hundred Reasons, among others.

Formed in premise in the summer of 2000 while Mark Clayden and Matt Grundy were touring America in Pitchshifter (Clayden is a charter member of 'Shifter, and Grundy did a brief but memorable stint as a touring guitarist during 2000), the genesis for the band really didn't happen until the end of the following year, when Karl Middleton (ex-Earthtone9), Chris Billam and Will Burchell (both of Consumed) came into the fold.

The sound is a highly charged punk/emo hybrid, not dissimilar to that of Sparta or the Blood Brothers. It's also a dramatic departure from the music of Pitchshifter, which most people associate Grundy and Clayden with, but such contrast is always a welcome departure. Those attending any of Pitchshifter's recent shows in September/October of last year were graced with their music as the band's debut EP, zero*zero*one, was played over the PA between sets.

I caught up with Matt Grundy shortly after zero*zero*one was released. The band had just come off their first major tour of the U.K. and Grundy was very ecstatic with the warm reception they had received. Hoping to release two more EPs this coming year along with more touring, The Blueprint are set to make their mark -- something I'm very much looking forward to.

[ the blueprint - photo by mike wright ]
photo by mike wright

What was the genesis for the band?

Matt Grundy: Mark [Clayden] and I had been talking about putting together a band like this for years, but only decided to really put things into motion while we were touring on Ozzfest in 2000 with Pitchshifter. We started writing songs on the road and jamming with Chris [Billam] when we got home. We got to know Karl [Middleton] when we toured Europe with his old band Earthtone9 later that year, and then the U.K. in 2001.

Towards the end of 2001 the band really started to gain momentum. I left Pitchshifter to give it my full attention; Will [Burchell] joined, adding another guitar to the line-up; and we settled on the name The Blueprint. I guess that was the point when it started to feel like a proper band.

Who are the band members and what are their backgrounds?

Matt: Myself -- I've played guitar, bass and various electronic stuff in a few bands, most recently Pitchshifter. Mark Clayden, bass player of Pitchshifter. Karl Middleton, who was formerly vocalist of Earthtone9. Chris Billam, who plays drums in Consumed. And Will Burchell, who plays guitar in Consumed.

Your EP has just come out and you recently finished up a tour. How were both received?

Matt: We went down really well on the tour, which is something I'm still buzzing about. It's great that people connect with our music. The EP has had a mixed response. Web and 'zine reviews have been really good, but the mainstream press seem to get really hung-up on the fact that we've been in other bands and only want to review things from a comparative standpoint.

Were you surprised by the reaction of both fans and press?

Matt: Not really, but I don't think we really gave it much thought. We were to busy being excited about what we were doing.

The U.K. press seems enamored to a lot of the emo/indie-punk bands out of the U.S. Is the support the same for local bands there?

Matt: It has been recently. Bands like Hundred Reasons have caught the attention press and paved the way for a lot of bands.

Having both dedicated numerous years to other primary projects, and having seen and been through the business end of the music world, what are your expectations with The Blueprint? Did you approach anything differently with this band than with others?

Matt: I think going into this band we had all decided that the purpose of it was to do things our way, on our own terms, to make the music we wanted to make, to give it time to grow and develop and not to let it get diluted or compromised.

[ zero*zero*one ]
[ give a listen! ] "Minus 10" MP3

The band's sound is a departure from the techno-punk noise of Pitchshifter most people associate you two with. Were you worried about how the band might be perceived by the fanbase you had already established through Pitchshifter and the other members' ongoing projects?

Matt: Not really. One of the reasons we formed the band was a need we all had to do something different and something new. I also think we wanted to experiment -- to see what we could create -- so writing for any particular market wasn't a concern for us.

zero*zero*one has some really interesting sample/loop-based songs that seem to be more interlude pieces than concrete compositions. Is this any indication of the writing direction the band is headed in, or simply outtakes used to create atmosphere?

Matt: "Outtakes" is the wrong word. They were written to set an atmosphere, but they weren't leftovers. Those tracks were more about experimenting in our studio -- creating sounds and layering them. Again, it was about finding out what we could do. I think those elements will become more incorporated into the main song structures in future, rather than standing on their own.

We definitely want to expand on how we put songs together and how the dynamics of our music works, so I think more electronics and atmospherics can be expected in future, but in a more integrated and focused way.

What kind of musical growth would like see happen as the band grows and evolves?

Matt: I just want to see the band develop to its full potential; to write the best songs we can; to keep evolving and expanding and not get tied down to a formula. A clearly ridiculous set of ideals that will obviously lead to us being penniless and unsigned almost immediately.

How are songwriting duties divvied up?

Matt: Pretty evenly. Everyone chips in ideas, or sometimes whole songs, and then we work on them as a band. We don't have a set way of writing...just whatever works. Sometimes we jam around an idea in rehearsal. Sometimes someone brings in a whole song and we kind of deconstruct it together and knock it into shape. Sometimes songs come together in the rehearsal room. Sometimes work on them in the little PC-based studio we have set up.

[ mark clayden and matt grundy - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

What can we expect from the band in the next year? I suspect (hope) a full-length will be in the works? And looking further down the road, what would like to see happen long-term with The Blueprint?

Matt: We are working on new material at the moment, and we're looking to record a second EP in January or February in time for a release around April, and a third release to follow about six months after that. We'll also hopefully be playing live a lot more. That's all we have planned right now. I think we'll get the three EPs released and then take some time to assess the situation and decide where to go from there.

How would you define "success" in terms of the band?

Matt: If we can all still communicate with each other clearly both musically and personally and still make the music we enjoy in years to come then I'll be happy with that.

What are your "desert island" music picks for when you're on tour?

Matt: Living in my CD holder right now are:
The Illusion of Safety by Thrice
Oceanic by Isis
Lateralus and Æenima by Tool
Slip by Quicksand
Live after Death by Iron Maiden
Relationship Of Command by At the Drive-In
Master of Puppets by Metallica
Young Team by Mogwai
Spiderland by Slint

On the web:
The Blueprint

Inside Earpollution:
zero*zero*one album review

[ live at aldershot west end centre - photo by fiona mclaren ]
photo by fiona mclaren
[ give a listen! ] "Reclamation Program" MP3
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