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Black Country, New Road on the story behind ‘Live At Bush Hall’

As Black Country, New Road announce their new live album, the group speak about the bold decision to play a set of entirely new material.

By Nick Reilly

Black Country New Road (Picture: Press)

As Black Country, New Road announce their new album Live At Bush Hall, the South London band have discussed the record’s genesis and how it marks their next chapter after the surprise departure of former frontman Isaac Wood last year.

The album, which arrives this Friday, captures the three-sold out dates that the band played at the West London venue last December. At the shows, hey surprised many fans by solely playing new material that had been recorded after Wood’s departure due to mental health problems.

While the band remain on friendly terms with Wood, now co-vocalist Tyler Hyde explained how his personal connections to the songs that formed their 2020 debut ‘For The First Time’ and 2022’s ‘Ants From Up There’ had informed their decision to focus solely on the new material.

“Breaking up for us was never an option when Isaac left, because it if was then everything we’d ever said about Black Country, New Road would be false,” explained Hyde.

“So much of our blood is in this band and it’s really based on our friendships. But because of that, we were never going to sing on songs that Isaac had previously sung on, it just comes down to the fact that those are his own personal words.”

Instead, it meant the group faced the daunting task of recording a whole setlist’s worth of material in a matter of months as festival dates and those previously booked Bush Hall shows beckoned.

“It was tough at times and everyone had their moments,” explained co-vocalist and saxophonist Lewis Evans of recording within the tight timeframe.

“I had two existential moments in rehearsals where we were dilly-dallying over one song and we had three weeks left to write two more tunes. I just sat down with my back to a wall and said, ‘We can’t do it. It’s not going to happen’. But we managed to pull it off and it’s helped that we’ve been able to play a summer of festival shows to refine these songs.”

As for the material itself, it follows in the off-kilter and experimental tradition of the first two records, but Hyde says that their new rotation of vocalists has leant a new diversity to it.

“Recording wise, it felt pretty much exactly the same as the last two albums,” said Hyde.

“But what has changed is that more ideas are coming, more substantial ideas are coming from more people. It’s just a matter of different personalities coming through when you didn’t hear them so much before, which is a good thing”.

Hyde adds: “We played three shows and it captures what was essentially three different recording sessions. It’s important for people to focus on it being just like a documentation of that gig and how it sounded at that time. It’s just an important moment in the story of our band.”

And for Evans, it’s given him a new-found appreciation of BC NR’s burgeoning cult fanbase.

“The Bush Hall shows were great, and the fans really seemed to be into it. What they’ve done for us in this period has been like more than you could ask of any fan group. They didn’t need to give us that, but they’ve accepted Isaac’s departure and more importantly, our new music, too.”