It’s coming home – yeah, there’s something we’re bloody excited for on Friday evening. Football? Nah, we’re only going to be having a mosh at the Download Pilot! Kicking off the weekend, a life-giving three days of euphoria and massive tunes, is only Death Blooms! No one could do it better – they’re loud, unforgiving, angry, and huge. We had a chat with frontman Paul Barrow about what it feels like the be the band ushering in the rock scene’s grand return.

Paul’s in the middle of final rehearsals when we catch him, absolutely buzzing with energy. Before we even get to Download, Death Blooms will be tearing up a socially-distanced warm-up in Birmingham with Wargasm – it’s a busy time. But they’ve not had to keep the news under wraps for too long: “I think it was a ten-day turnaround between being offered the slot and it being announced!” Paul tells us. And what about that coveted, inaugural slot, then? “Absolutely. Insane. It’s so weird, cos normally whatever festival slot you get is sick but when you’re playing first, ou’re like oh god, is there gonna be any people there, what’s it gonna be like, but now it’s just like, bloody hell, this is mental! When we got offered the slot it didn’t really sink in for a day or two and I was like wait, that slot means we’re gonna be the first band playing. It’s gonna be amazing, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet!”

Being the first band means that Death Blooms’ crowd will be the first barometer of what the pits are gonna be like all weekend. What’s Paul hoping for? “With me I never really feel any pressure until I literally walk onto the stage, and then I wanna throw up, but then I’m like ah fuck it, let’s just do it. I think knowing the Download crowd they’re gonna absolutely go for it. But it’ll still be in the back of people’s minds, you know, people having anxiety and stuff. I know when I first went back out it felt really odd just meeting people, like oh shit I haven’t done this in so long! I know they’ve done some pilot stuff here [in Liverpool, where Death Blooms are from], and I know a couple of people who went and they said it was completely the weirdest thing ever, but completely normal. I’m just looking forward to seeing people!”

All those little festival delights we’ve been deprived of are nearly as exciting as the prospect of actually seeing live music – and Paul’s looking forward to soaking up the Download vibes as well as playing. “Everyone you speak to is going or is involved, like fucking hell, this is gonna be mental! It’s just gonna be great to see people and make new friends. That lineup for me is SICK, so many bands I love on it. Bands I haven’t seen in literal years, like A! Oh my god, it’s gonna be so good. And I love Jamie Lenman as well, that’ll be ace. I’m just looking forward to seeing headliners and stuff as well, cos it’s brand new, and there’s no clashes as well.”

Death Blooms have released a hefty amount of new tunes since we all got locked into our houses back last March, and it’s looking to be an intense set. “There’s been a lot of pent up aggression, there’s been a massive build-up and release and obviously that’s a big part of our sound anyway, but our recent EP wasn’t even meant to exist! We wrote and recorded it all before lockdown, but then they became more poignant now than they would have been at any other point. They were just the angriest ones out of all the ones we had! And we were like this makes fucking sense, let’s do this, we just need to get it out. So yeah, it’ll be pretty cathartic.”

And, of course, Death Blooms have been having their moment since the release of Fuck Everything back in March, so the response is sure to be huge. “It’s been really positive, you know, which is why we think it might be a pretty crazy set! A lot of new people have come based solely around the fact that we’re gonna be the first band that they’ve seen for two years. It’s lovely for us that we’re that band. Pretty much all the songs, like three quarters of the set is pretty much all new stuff that we’ve never played before and now it’s gonna be pretty intense to be like ok, we’re playing all these songs right now at this moment in time.”

Death Blooms are excited to party with fans old and new, but are they more hyped to hear people yelling the words back, or to win over a whole new gang? “That’s a difficult one for me! There’s nothing better than people actually being into it, but also if you’re connecting with someone and it’s while you’re playing live, that’s what we all do! We all go and we like music because of the impact that it has on you while you’re playing live, so if anyone gets into it in that moment that’s simultaneously the best thing in the world. I love both angles of it, cos we obviously appreciate anyone that listens to us at any point ever. Sorry, that’s not very specific! I get buzzed off all of it.”

Catch Death Blooms at 5pm sharp on the second stage, Friday 18th June 2021.