ERB's Juliet Hurwitt talks to Blue Nation about dinosaurs, tea and biscuits and rubbish music!

The first time ERB interviewed Blue Nation was with Craig Bailey, whose closing advice on that feature was ‘Blue Nation are plotting a course that is going places. We could do worse than follow them.’

Two years on and Blue Nation are certainly fulfilling that upward projection, so I asked Neil and Luke (Oli and Nick were unable to join us) what that’s been like for them? Neil is first to answer, “It’s kinda been a bit crazy, just one thing after another; UK tours, European tours, releasing music, Great Music Stories – Band of The Month and Live Act of The Year, it’s just mad!” Luke continues, “The more gigs we play the more Blue Nation t-shirts we see in the crowd, it’s just insane. People are getting on board with us and coming along for the journey. It’s just beautiful.”

Talking about the tour which will take them through to 15th December 2024, and started on Saturday 8th June at the Dave (Myers) Day memorial concert. How did they get involved with that? Neil, “It came out of nowhere really. Our PR agent recommended us. They [organisers] checked us out and offered us the main support slot. We thought we’d be on around mid-afternoon!” Luke explains that’s how it works at festivals, going higher up the bill at each appearance, although they do feel they’ve jumped ahead this time, not that there’s any complaints, ‘sorry not sorry’, but it’s all down to their hard work over the past nine years, and getting themselves known. The subsequent tour dates are a mixture of support slots (Dom Martin, Brave Rival, Amongst Liars), many festivals, and their own first headline ‘The Ordinary People’ tour. “You have to convince venues to put on a Brummie band who talk too much, and also convince them that tickets will sell.” They are now able to do this because acts like Laurence Jones and Chantel McGregor have taken Blue Nation on tour, giving them the opportunity to play in front of their fans, who in turn have become Blue Nation fans.

This leads us on to their stage performances which are known and loved for their long, unscripted chatter. Even Luke’s Mum doesn’t know how they find so much to talk about. “It’s just how we are together, whether that’s on or off stage. We’re never going to be that band who wear shades indoors or for a photo shoot in February, we’re just going to be us.” What you see is what you get. Blue Nation aren’t “one of those bands who just come on to play their songs and go off again”. The rapport between them is clearly extended to their audience, aware that people watching a support band, if people have even taken the time to come in at all, will mostly make up their minds during the first, possibly second song. By talking to the audience, they’re more likely to feel comfortable, which will result in a better show for everyone; besides which Blue Nation enjoy the interaction. Luke, “That’s the secret. Our music is really crap, but we just love the people.” Neil and I both have a laugh at this, then point out that if the music was truly crap then there wouldn’t be any fans. “This is why we don’t let Luke talk,” says Neil, a quip often heard on stage. We can see the headline now, Blue Nation – Rubbish Music, Lovely People!

Coming back to the tour, the beginning of the year was purposely kept clear so they could prepare and become gig fit. “Gig fit?” Neil says, “It’s an important part to being onstage night after night. We run and do light weightlifting to get fit, so when carrying heavy equipment, singing, thinking about what you’re playing, means you’re not dead on your feet after three tunes. If you don’t look after yourself, you won’t put on a good show. It doesn’t matter how much people have paid, they’ve come to see your best performance whether it’s your first or last.” while Luke adds, “You know who’s stupidly fit? Dom Martin.” The next five minutes are spent in an admiration of Dom Martin that’s almost akin to worship.

Photo Credit – Jill Gibbons – Little Ninja Photography

The venues Blue Nation are playing at range from 300 people, to 5000 at Formula 1 meetings, and a stadium full for Dave Day, and no Luke, I wouldn’t ride your Vespa to a gig with 24,000 rockers expected to be there! Sometimes the stages are so big that Luke, Neil, and Oli look about an inch (or 2.5cm) high to each other. This by no means diminishes their performance.

The craziness continues as not only have Blue Nation been offered more gigs in 2024, but also for 2025, and for 2026! They just can’t fit it all in, and you can tell they’re still shell-shocked by what’s happening, in a “are you sure it’s us you want, and you’re not confused [want someone else]?” kind of way. Nice position to be in, and justly deserved.

As with many bands, Blue Nation started online streaming during lockdown. Live From the Front Room has now streamed over 220 times and is still going over four years later. “People started showing up and continued to show up. I always said I’ll stop doing it when people stop turning up, or it became just my Mum watching.” The streaming went international when they broadcast every night from the Netherlands when touring with Laurence Jones. It’s created a “beautiful community” for the band and fans, named The Blue Meanies by Luke after characters in Yellow Submarine. Everyone is welcome and welcoming.

Blue Nation were recently heard on the Radio 2 Rock Show in connection with Dave Day. They found out about it from fans messaging to tell them Hand Me Down had been played! This created alot of interest, with a spike in streams, biggest ever Shazam hits, and joyful tears from Blue Nation and their crew. A milestone moment.

As seen on their Facebook page, I felt impelled to ask them about dinosaur biscuits and the AI Story. [Laughter ensues] This is Luke’s story (stick with it). “I’ve been a fan of Jurassic Park and obsessed with dinosaurs since I was little. At one gig I asked a crowd of people what their favourite dinosaur was.” At another festival, Luke got bored when Neil was changing his guitar, so asked that audience the same question. Apparently, the MC hooked on to this and asked everyone who was playing that weekend about their favourite dinosaur, including Sir Bob Geldof who’s yet to give his answer. However, The Blue Meanies have taken this on and now send them anything dinosaur related. Luke now gets dinosaurs thrown at him on stage, though I’m assured not maliciously, and I assume not life sized! He then produces a blue plastic dinosaur (a Ceratopsia I believe, but Luke will have to confirm) which he just happened to have to hand, and was “gently thrown” at him at a gig. Opera singers receive red roses at their concerts, Blue Nation receive dinosaurs. Should you want to listen to the full favourite dinosaur conversation, it can be found on any streaming service on their live acoustic album. The AI Story came about when Neil decided to ask AI to write a story about him, Luke, Nick and Oli, the band Blue Nation and somewhere in the story include dinosaurs. Should you want to read the full weird but wonderful AI dinosaur story, it can be found on their Facebook page. I recommend you do.

Photo Credit – Nick Ashton

As true Brits, the first thing most of us do when returning home from holiday is make a cup of tea. A question was posed by Neil on return from his recent holiday, posting a cups of tea colour chart, and asking what’s the right coloured tea, and with or without sugar? This led us on to favourite biscuits, and that being vegan makes some choices very elusive indeed. Who knew, apart from other vegans?

Neil and Luke are like brothers with absolutely no rivalry between them at all. Nope, none whatsoever, even when someone wanted only Luke’s signature for a tattoo; ‘he was only another bass player.’ In truth, you can tell they’re very close, very personable, devoted to each other and the band; all big factors contributing to their continuing growth in popularity, matched by their great music.

With an EP released in February 2024, a new album coming out in September 2024, and now on tour, those t-shirts are going to keep popping up more regularly, fans are going to continue to get Blue Nation tattoos, and the fan base will keep on growing. To update the quote: Blue Nation are well ahead of their plotted course that continues to expand and take them places. If you’re not already a ‘Blue Meanie’ you could do no worse by following them now. Just don’t forget your dinosaur!

Photo Credit – Shane Finn

Band Members

Neil Murdoch – Vocals and Guitar
Luke Weston – Bass and Backing Vocals
Oli Jefferson – Drums

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