John Garrison – vocals, guitar
Adrian Kelley – bass guitar
Matt Parker – lead guitar
Paul Possart – drums, percussion
Chris Pemberton – keyboards, piano
Budapest’s singer-songwriter John Garrison displayed an innate talent writing songs on the piano at the most tender of ages. Indeed, his ability proved so organic and pure that Garrison’s father, a music lecturer at England’s distinguished Warwick University, knew exactly what to do – keep his son away from music lessons!
With no small amount of irony, his music professor father knew that proper classes and theory would only “box” his son’s ability to write the type of original poetic soundscapes that make Budapest a vitalizing revelation. This gift – one that renders personal emotions into musical portraits – finds itself fully realized on Budapest’s debut album, Too Blind to Hear.
As evidenced on their new album, Budapest crafts moody, melancholic tunes that beautifully blend stirring sentiments with lush layers of strings, piano, keyboards, percussion, and guitars. Produced by Garrison with Dave Creffield, Too Blind to Hear offers addictive melodies and catchy choruses while retaining the integrity and individuality of true artists. Soul-twisting numbers like “Is This the Best it Gets?” and “Evade the Pain,” epitomize these feelings of disenchantment and withdraw sparked by a dread that happiness is an idealist’s illusion.
“I only write songs when I’m in a bad mood,” Garrison told the Winnipeg Sun about the album’s somber lyrical imagery. “When everything is coming up roses, the last thing you want to do is pick up a guitar — you want to go out with your mates and have a drink or whatever. So the happy songs don’t get written.”
In an agonizing example of life imitating art, the group’s original guitarist – Mark Walworth – committed suicide a mere week after recording the album. The staggering tragedy shocked the unsuspecting group, which still has no idea of what motivated the self-inflicted death.
Though devastated by the loss, the band knew that it needed to carry on in respect for the art that Walworth helped create. Garrison, who had shared a flat with his ill-destined friend, told the Calgary Herald: “In a strange way [the tragedy is] a bit of a focus for us – we all know this album can’t fail because it’s the last thing Mark did, and it’ll be a lasting epitaph and a fabulous sendoff for him.”
With Matt Parker taking over the lead guitar duties, Budapest first released Too Blind To Hear in their native England through local label Easy Street Music. The buzz in the British press soon spread internationally, which brought the band across the pond for a month-long Canadian tour that included heavy radio-press support and appearances on the music video channel MuchMusic. North America will finally get a lasting fix, however, as Republic/Universal Records releases the album stateside.
Looking back, Budapest formed in 1999 among a group of friends from the 30,000-person town of Leamington Spa, near Oxford. Named after the Hungarian capitol that the band says matches its sound (“gritty in places, sophisticated in others”), Budapest quickly proved that a U.K. band doesn’t have to be from London to attract immediate buzz. Their earliest shows were quickly followed by a flow of bootleg tapes primarily taken from their rehearsals. To no one’s surprise, Budapest was signed a mere year after its first live performance. The group, who took its record shelf bow in the U.K. first, is now ready to make its mark worldwide.
Too Blind to See comes with a reflective, revealing look at souls seared open for all to gasp. Transparent and sincere, the music twists the heart for every drop of pure emotion and feeling all captured in songs that stay in the head the way pain sticks to one’s spirit. As perfectly put in their song “Wake Up Call,” Budapest laments, “Standing on one side, observing all I find The scenery I see, twisted beyond belief I tell you now my mind is bending for what I believe.”