"Our flame won't get any smaller" - the core concept of RIOT is crystal clear. Yet, BLACKOUT PROBLEMS have always been a band with an insatiable will and boundless ambition.
With DARK, they reached No.12 in the German album charts in 2021, following the success of KAOS in 2018 (No.25) and HOLY (No.52) in 2016. With over 30 million streams on Spotify, nothing in the German rock world leads past the band anymore. Festival shows at Rock Am Ring, Southside, Deichbrand, Greenfield (CH), Rock For People (CZ), Download (UK) as well as international tours as support act for Enter Shikari, Fever333 and Royal Republic are followed by their own headline tours – most recently the DARK tour 2022. At the zenith of their success up until now, BLACKOUT PROBLEMS are looking forward to the release of their new album RIOT (An anagram of "Trio"), which will be released on February 23rd, 2024. This album, RIOT, marks the band's first album as a trio.
"Take a breath now. Reflect. Define your goal. Always have it in mind. And ask yourself: Are we doing the right thing right now to achieve this goal? Let's focus on what we really want to do." This is the advice that singer and guitarist Mario Radetzky would like to give to his own band in the founding year of 2012. Right from the start, BLACKOUT PROBLEMS turn out to be a problem-solving band that defies every crisis.
Thus, all doubts after the pandemic could be overcome and turned into a tireless drive to push the band, says bassist Marcus Schwarzbach: "Everyday I'm happy about the band, because I could develop and personally grow with it. It's fascinating how the band changes as a construct and we also do personally."
At the time of writing RIOT, Mario spent a lot of time alone in the rehearsal room: alone with the feeling of being lost in the post-pandemic rut. "While everyone around me was starting their solo project, I wanted to be creative, too" Mario recalls. "But everything I wrote sounded like BLACKOUT PROBLEMS" and thoughts of a solo project were quickly buried. Instead, the decision to write a new BLACKOUT PROBLEMS album solidified with various songwriting sessions that led Mario to produce the new album himself for the first time.
Well aware of having a good team around him with Moritz Enders (mixing) and Karan Walia (engineer & co-producer), Mario describes the album's creation process as follows. "I really tried to open up, step up and find myself on RIOT. When you listen to the album, you learn things about me that I would never ever tell you. But maybe you'll also learn something about yourself, because you're not hearing my story and my mistakes, but can project them onto your own life."
RIOT became a contact for Mario and marks the most honest and courageous album BLACKOUT PROBLEMS have ever written in the form of a personal diary. "It was written, recorded and produced wherever it was suitable," says Mario. "Starting from a hut in Austria, Berlin and the Darkroom Studios in Munich to any backstage room or tour bus that offered the possibility."
From the initial feeling of being lost, Mario found a way to express himself through music and his lyrics in RIOT. "I myself was the biggest wall and obstacle in the process." Only when he personally, strongly felt something, he could capture this moment on the album. What others think doesn't matter – as long as you truly feel and understand yourself. Thereby, according to Mario, it is this great identification within the personal lyrics that reflect diary-like what has happened in his own life, but also in the lives of others. It also refers to current events, such as climate change or the pressure of the right wing and also the loss of a close friend. "I wanted to reveal my own personal development with this album, to get under the skin and also be understood and empathized by others."
With wild, unusual song structures and free of expectations, BLACKOUT PROBLEMS present a gloomy sound as usual, but also danceable – sad and euphoric at the same time. A dichotomy that, according to Mario, mutually fertilizes each other. "The lyrics of our music paint gloomy pictures and scenarios, because that's the only way to start a healing process."
BLACKOUT PROBLEMS contrast their lyrics with a musical vibe full of tension, energy and ambition. The climate crisis, the refugee crisis and also the events in the Ahr Valley in 2021 are topics that shape the band's lyrical level as much as personal crises, according to Moritz: "RIOT is a peaceful uprising, not violence, but pure songs – always critical of society, but without a clear answer, both political and apolitical. We don't write anything on our foreheads, but Mario hits the balance of social criticism and his own emotional world perfectly and paints his own pictures from it."
This balance comes from freedom, as Mario elaborates: "I feel like I can do everything I want with BLACKOUT PROBLEMS. That gives me a lot of confidence. With RIOT, we've managed to commit to ourselves even more stubbornly by putting out an album like this." This takes two things: courage, which the band draws from intrinsic motivation and artistic freedom to create, and confidence, which comes from a dedicated fanbase with mutual appreciation.
Thus, RIOT is the logical consequence of the accomplishment of these tasks, the perseverance and continuation of a common dream, which the band continues to build laboriously. Change is inevitable in this process, but BLACKOUT PROBLEMS never gave up on. moving forward. "Are we still the same as we were in the beginning? No, everything around us has changed and continues to develop, but this band is a great constant with which we are constantly growing," sums up Moritz.
For Mario, too, it's clear that BLACKOUT PROBLEMS has become bigger than the individuals in the band. "That's what remains – what touches people," says the band's singer, who is always aware of the impact of their music. This motivation comes from their own feelings, through the fun of making music, learning and growing with their own music - but also music from others. Out of the desire to be a band that survives the most difficult times, BLACKOUT PROBLEMS have become a role model for the German alternative rock scene in 2023.
They also overcame the departure of their former drummer. From now on, the band will be supported live by Marius Bornmann (Heisskalt) and Jo Pressl as live drummer. The key element: a constant upbeat mood that defies every crisis. In doing so, RIOT is, according to Moritz, "your soundtrack for positive change."
Down to earth, BLACKOUT PROBLEMS have built a dream together in 10 years. A dream they can live and share with thousands of fans who have already become part of their community. In doing so, Marcus emphasizes, "It's important to me that this band and its community is a safe space where everyone is welcome." A place without agitation, condemnation, and barriers, characterized by closeness, honesty, and authenticity – both of the band and their fans. The cohesion within this community and the band is stronger than ever. With their fourth album, it is once again important for the musicians to think long-term, not to give up against all doubts and to continue living this common dream. "Our flame won't get any smaller (...) let's start a beautiful riot."
RIOT will be released on February 23rd, 2024 via Hansa / SME Germany GmbH / Sony Music