Interview: Jono Hawkey of Bloom Talks ‘Maybe in Another Life’

It may seem a bit odd to be so reflective on a debut full-length, but any efforts to underestimate or question Sydney, Australia-based Bloom are quieted once you press play. Maybe in Another Life, out now via Pure Noise Records, is equal parts introspective and propulsive, with a renewed sense of focus (and fun) that reveals a whole new side to the group. Skirting the line between melodic hardcore and metalcore, Bloom couldn’t have found a better home than Pure Noise, where their emphasis on duality makes for a modern record with retro sensibilities. If ever you wondered what mid-career Underoath would sound like drenched in film noir ethos, let Maybe in Another Life become your new favorite surreal soundtrack.

For a band who started out playing Touche Amore covers (nice choice), their Pure Noise debut may surprise, at least until the record’s middle reveals the haunting layer underneath the killer riffs and even better hooks. To vocalist Jono Hawkey, everything begins, continues, and ends with the group’s friendship and desire to grow together:

“Bloom’s north star was and always will be a group of best friends who share a common interest writing songs together. We grew up in a local scene that had a lot of melodic hardcore bands, and that was super influential on us writing our first material. At our core, I think we are always going to be a melodic hardcore band, but as we’ve grown (both as people and as musicians), we have expanded on our influences and brought in more flavors to how we write, which we think is reflected in the album. Coming into 2024, we’ve been doing this nearly 7 years and we think we’ve refined our sound to have bits from every era of the band. This feels like a culmination of a lot of years of fine tuning and exploring different sounds as we grown. At our core, I think Bloom will always be focused on friendship and experiencing really cool shit together, and I hope that never changes.”

Regarding the extra oomph that’s evident throughout Maybe in Another Life (both sonically and thematically), that was a conscious choice, as Hawkey shares:

“We really wanted to push the extremes with this release. This has both the heaviest songs as well as the softest songs we’ve written. I think we also just wanted to write shit that people would like & connect with. Structurally, we wanted to have bigger moments; whether that be breakdowns, hook-y choruses, or big sing along moments. Playing live has shown us that these moments are what connect most with the audience and have become our favorite parts of a set. Maybe In Another Life is a concept album that explores a universal feeling of what could have been. We had the title locked in before anything else.”

I don’t normally talk about the art direction (I’m a different kind of nerd…), but I adore everything Bloom created for this record: from the music videos to the cover art, there’s a real film noir/German Expressionism bent to everything that somehow renders it more colorful than more pastel creations. Duality is a common theme in the lyrics, and it seems like this use (or lack of use) of color aimed to portray that theme. Hawkey is kind to acknowledge where I’m right and not overstate where I’m wrong:

“We really wanted to create something rich with the record, from the album experience of listening the whole way through at once, to all of the videos, cover, art, merch etc.

So much of the album is about duality, and the relationship between the real and the imagined; we were drawn to the idea of setting these boundaries in a visual way as well. The lining of the cover is thick and separate to the figure, and the shapes within these are indistinct while the figure is sharp. Lots of two toned, high contrast visuals appear especially in the heavier tracks, and we really wanted to hone in on that harshness, just as we did with the softer elements.”

“This inspiration leaked in gradually to our music and art,” he adds, “especially with brutalist cinematography coming back into the mainstream with stuff like the Tragedy of Macbeth and even The Batman. I think the concept for the album was also heavily influenced by Everything Everywhere All At Once. It’s lovely that you picked up on the these influences of the direction, and they were much wider and more varied than anything we’d written before. “

“I spend a lot of time and energy fixated on things that could have been done different,” Hawkey says, “or past situations and experiences that I carry with me. The album is an extension of that feeling wrapped up in a narrative that follows the protagonist through their own experiences – loss of a loved one, abusive and manipulative relationships, self-pity, and anxiety. Ultimately these things come together in everyone’s experiences, and regret and longing are universal things that we all go through daily. With the album we wanted to take all these things to its extreme, and really paint a tangible picture of how experience and yearning can link into something beautiful and tragic.”

If all this makes it sound like Bloom have created some navel-gazing mopecore, fret not. Maybe in Another Life is thematically rich and nuanced, but it’s also a blast for anyone interested in heavy music (non-grindcore edition) of the past couple decades. It’s a record that’s equal parts fresh and nostalgic, just like Bloom drew up.

Maybe In Another Life drops on Friday and you can pre-order it now from Pure Noise Records. Follow Bloom on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Jack Fontes.

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