Making his name early on as an icon with the 6 piece R&B the Southside Stompers, Big Boy Bloater has proved himself to be one of the finest guitarist and performers of his generation and has drawn praise from his contemporaries for his powerful voice and dynamic and instantly recognisable guitar style with luminaries such as Imelda May who has confessed to being a “massive fan”, Jools Holland has declared him “one of the greatest bluesmen of our time” and Mark Lamarr who even personally funded a vinyl run of the single Whammy just so he could have a copy.
His career has taken him around the world and has seen him perform at the top of the World Trade Centre, was voted the ‘Best Band of the Weekend’ at the Viva Las Vegas Festival, Nevada – has supported Carl Perkins, played with Wanda Jackson, Paloma Faith and appeared at festivals such as; Latitude, Secret Garden Party, Hop Farm, Jersey Live, ABC Roskilde, BluesFest, Barcelona’s Hayride, Sweden’s A-Bombers. He has lead the Rhythm Riots Kings of Rhythm band at the Rhythm Riot Festival since its inception and was personally invited to record at Abbey Road for Paul McCartney.
He has also toured, guested with and played guitar for Imelda May (including shows at the Roundhouse and Somerset House) who also featured Sweet & Brown and Every Path Has Its Puddle from the 2011 album Big Boy Bloater and The LiMiTs along with jazz-funk legend Snowboy (Jamiroquai, Mick Hucknell, Amy Winehouse, Lisa Stansfield). Following tours supporting Imelda he was asked to be a guest for the first series of The Imelda May Show on Irish RTE Television alongside The Boomtown Rats but no stranger to TV and radio has been a guest on BBC Radio for Jools Holland, Paul Jones, Craig Charles and Mark Lamarr. Also immortalised in book form he has been featured as an ‘R&B Guitar Icon’ in; Rock & Pop: The Complete History, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Music and Blues: The Complete History.
Currently the presenter in the hugely popular The Blues Magazine Show for Team Rock Radio where his charismatic and down to earth personality perfectly suits the shows format and has given him the chance to interview some of the greatest artists both past and present including; Robert Cray, Walter Trout, Mud Morganfield and Dan Patlansky amongst others. “Before I started doing the blues show my blues knowledge and taste were quite limited, it widened my appreciation for the blues for a start” he reveals. “I was talking to Robert Cray, this is a guy who has been around a long time and is a great artist, it’s impossible not to learn from him, it was great to see him do the little live session, how he played – its every musicians dream to watch these kinds of people up so close, I think you take a lot in subconsciously.”
His four previous releases; Big Boy Bloater – That Ain’t My Name (2008), the self-titled Big Boy Bloater & The LiMiTs (2011), Big Boy Bloater & The LiMiTs – The World Explained (2012 – Classic Rock Blues Magazine Top 50 albums of the year) and The One Man Show’s Loopy (2014) were all tightly coiled classics and he is now back leading The LiMiTs with the new line up of Matt Cowley (Drums), Dan Edwards (Keyboards) and Steven Oats (Bass), he talks about how the music has progressed from the early days of the Southside Stompers to where he is now; “I get this blues tag all the time and I don’t think of myself as a blues artist” he confesses. “I’ve got so many more influences than that, there is so much I want to bring in, for me when I made this album I was thinking more rock ‘n roll, the edge of that 70s pub R&B type thing, I was listening to loads of stuff like Mott the Hoople and T-Rex, there’s a lot of that in there too.”
The track “Robot Girlfriend” premieres today. Listen to it here:
With a fascination for textures and subtle narratives Luxury Hobo sees Bloater in a tougher, deeper and more expressive mode following a bout of depression in 2013 which has led it to take a lot darker and personal tone. He confesses, “I never felt I was prone to that kind of thing”. Opening up, he continues, “I had a breakdown, the album centres around that we’ve got all these great things but are still pissed off and medicate ourselves to be normal.” For a while life was put on hold whilst he tried to focus in on looking after himself and getting back on track and this fed into the albums’ mild dystopian outlook which is littered with moments of dark humour, wit and twists. “The basic idea of the title” Bloater explains, “is we are all luxury hobos these days, we get to go here, there and everywhere but no one has it the hard way now do they? We all have our luxuries, it’s that juxtaposition, I think the whole album is about the modern day life and society.
Two years ago he suffered a bout of depression and confessed that he never felt that he was “prone to that kind of thing”. He opens up saying “I had a breakdown, but I’m feeling good now, the album centres around that we’ve got all these great things but are still pissed off and medicate ourselves to be normal.”
For a while life was put on hold whilst he tried to focus in on looking after himself and getting back on track and this fed into the albums’ mild dystopian outlook which is littered with moments of dark humour and twists. Having the Big Boy Bloater persona helped him deal with the anxiety when it came to performing during this time. “On stage I’m totally comfortable, that’s my space, no one will butt into what I’m going to say” he adds, even in his darkest moment he would perform confidently and with ease but when he came off the stage he would go and hide. “I never thought I had social anxiety, but when I thought about it the stage stuff was just 10% of my time, the rest of the time I didn’t want to get the train, pick up the phone or be left alone in a room with anyone. When the Big Boy Bloater thing wasn’t there it was hard, if I went out in social situations, I didn’t have the Bloater shield of steel. ”
Bloater has seen the best and the worst that being a professional musician has to offer. “As with all jobbing musicians I have seen the ups and downs that go with the lifestyle. I’ve been flown to Dubai first class, but have also spent all night on the side of the road with a broken down transit van. Clubs can treat you like a special guest or can treat you like the hired help that is inconveniencing them. I’ve performed in front of 20,000 people one night and then in front of 20 people the next night, and I’m just as happy to do both. All musicians have these experiences but they are what make you, years of travelling and gigging are how you learn your craft, but you have to be strong to survive!”
Having always self-produced all his own records as well as also working behind the desk for other acts such as the Jim Jones Revue and Carlos and the Bandidos, this time he enlisted the ear of Adam Whalley to help bring out what they produce live and it brings the production quality to the next level. “I’m old enough and ugly enough to know my trade well, I love what I do and I hope that shows on stage. I am very excited to have the chance now to break through and show the world what I can really do. Things are great right now, I love the band I have, I love the fans and it’s great to be out there playing my own songs and really being myself. It’s been a long-time coming.”
BIG BOY BLOATER & THE LIMITS – Luxury Hobo
Tracklist:01 Devils Not Angels
02 It Came Out Of The Swamp
03 I Love You (But I Can’t Stand Your Friends)
04 The Devils Tail
05 I Got The Feeling Someone’s Watching Me
06 Luxury Hobo Blues
07 Robot Girlfriend
08 All Things Considered
09 Not Cool Man