Interview: A fantastic new start for Blake

Blake with Camilla Kerslake
Blake with Camilla Kerslake

When four became three, it was a new lease of life, as Blake, now a vocal trio, head out on tour with special guest Camilla Kerslake.

They play Clair Hall, Haywards Heath on Friday, October 18 (01444 455440) and The Royal Hippodrome, Eastbourne on Saturday, October 26 (01323 412000).

Earlier this year it was announced that Blake would be saying farewell to Jules Knight with their final quartet album Start Over. The album title is now even more appropriate: Jules has returned to his acting roots, and his band mates - Stephen Bowman, Humphrey Berney and Ollie Baines - look towards an exciting new era for Blake.

“It’s a fantastic new start for us in a way,” says Stephen. “It’s something we are very excited about. Here we are, a year on, unexpectedly a trio rather than a quartet and getting pop songs on Radio 2 rather than classical music on Classic FM!

“We didn’t know that he was going to leave. Jules is someone that keeps his cards reasonably close to his chest with regards what might be coming up on the horizon. When he left, it was with two weeks’ notice. It was quite last minute. He had been given an opportunity by the BBC to play a role in Holby City, and they gave him a very short time to decide. It was tough for him. He had to decide between continuing to sing with a group that he had helped found or acting, but it has worked out very well for him and it has worked out well for us.

“Becoming a trio injected an extra energy into the group, which had been missing for a while. We had been evolving musically over that time, introducing more of a pop sound, taking on contemporary harmonies rather than classical harmonies. We had been going six, coming on seven, years, and that might not sound long, but in the industry, it is like a millennium. To change things around every once in a while was very healthy for us.

“The three of us can fit a more easily into saloon cars. When we tour around, one person gets to lord it up in the back of the car!

“And the three of us are very relaxed and easy going. We all share a similar sense of humour. We tend to laugh if something goes wrong. Jules was always a perfectionist. He wanted everything to go exactly to plan, but the music industry is not like that. Microphones don’t work; speakers blow up; these things happen. We have found that the best way to cope is to laugh.

“If you don’t quite get the top note or if the choreography goes wrong and you end up on the wrong side of the stage, then it doesn’t matter if you smile. If you are smiling, then people won’t notice. As a trio, we are a lot more relaxed and having a lot more fun on stage than when we were when we were trying to be perfect all the time.”

By Phil Hewitt