black midi

Hellfire (Rough Trade)

Contact Jessica Linker & Sam McAllister about black midi

black midi – the UK outfit comprised of Geordie Greep (guitar, vocals), Cameron Picton (bass, vocals), and Morgan Simpson (drums) – present “Sugar/Tzu,” the final pre-release single from Hellfire, their new album out this Friday, July 15th, on Rough Trade. Following last month’s “Eat Men Eat” and the “exhilarating” (New York Times) lead single “Welcome To Hell,” “Sugar/Tzu” continues along Hellfire’s trail of first-person tales from morally suspect characters.  As Greep describes it: “If ‘Cavalcade’ was a drama, ‘Hellfire’ is like an epic action film.” There are direct dramatic monologues, flamboyantly appealing to our degraded sense of right and wrong. You’re never quite sure whether to laugh at or be horrified. Released alongside a music video directed by Noel Paul, “Sugar/Tzu” centers on a futuristic boxing match wherein one of the contenders is assassinated by a young boy. It features the core band plus horns by Kaidi Akinnibi (sax), Joe Bristow (trombone) and Ife Ogunjobi (trumpet), and the voice of boxing announcer Hus Ragip.


“Sugar/Tzu” “imagines that in 2163 it’s possible to see a championship fight between two 600 lb men. Albeit in a so-called ‘Leadweight’ division,” explains Greep. “The fight is between Sun Sugar and Sun Tzu; the latter being a fan of the Chinese general, hoping to channel his strength; and the former looking to continue the lineage of Sugar Ray Robinson, Leonard etc.”


Present at their battle is a young boy who stands just over three feet tall. At ringside, he briefly exchanges a glance with Sun Sugar, who, in perhaps an attempt to inspire, comes over to the boy and shakes his hand. It is then revealed, as the contender walks back to the action, that the boy is in fact a killer. He takes a small pistol from his little jacket and shoots the man in the back, honour be damned. The boy believes this not to be a cruel act, but a virtuous one, with his interference giving the audience an ultimate, rare entertainment. 


As Sun Sugar hits the deck, the crowd cheer and scream, believing this only to be the result of a particularly vicious shot from Sun Tzu.


There is a little joke here. It is regular for a boxing audience to bemoan an early stoppage, the official stepping in to save a fighter who could’ve gone on. And while there is the surface agreement of most that ‘it was the right thing to do,’ there seems to be often left unsaid the fact that we actually do want to see a brutal knockout. And in the split second where these one-shot, punch-perfect, coma-inducing blows do occur, there is an undeniable rush. The boy in this story feels he is a hero for giving the crowd what they all really want. This is not to say the song is a critique of boxing or anything of the like – I love the sport – but it is an interesting and rare phenomenon worth exploring.”


Written in isolation in London after the release of last year’s beloved Cavalcade, Hellfire builds on the melodic and harmonic elements of its predecessor, while expanding the brutality and intensity of black midi’s debut, Schlagenheim. The band is currently completing a European run before returning stateside to play some of their biggest shows yet. They are joined by Seth Evans (keyboards), who helps fill out their explosive live performances, and fellow brits Black Country New Road, who are opening for select dates. Tickets for all shows are on sale now.