Blitz Vega, the former band of late Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, have announced their debut album to mark what would have been his 60th birthday.
Rourke died last May after “a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer”, as confirmed in a statement from ex-bandmate Johnny Marr. He was 59 years old.
Today (January 17) would have been Rourke’s 60th birthday, and Blitz Vega have marked the occasion by revealing that their debut album ‘Northern Gentleman’ will see the light of day on April 26.
“The album is a diary of the last seven years of the journey that Andy, the band and I went on recording this music as Blitz Vega,” the band’s Kav Sandhu said in a statement of the record, which features guitar from Marr and is something he said he “promised” Rourke he would release.
“Every song tells a story and personally takes me back to a memory of recording that song. The drive to the studio, that conversation or whatever happened surrounding the recording session.”
Jan 17 would have been Andy Rourke’s 60th Birthday. Before he passed he made me promise that we would release the album as he’d put so much into making it while fighting his illness.We are privileged 2 announce it will be released on April 26 @KAVblaggers x #andyrourke #blitzvega pic.twitter.com/D1EtqSplMV
— Blitz Vega (@BlitzVegamusic) January 16, 2024
Sandhu added: “I hear his voice in my head, replaying everything we talked about when we were recording the song. I see his face smiling at me. On my last trip back to L.A. a few weeks ago, I was driving to the studio and it felt like Andy was sitting there with me like he had been so many times before, talking about music, just excited to get this album made. So, all the songs mean the world to me.”
Of recording the album during Rourke’s illness, Sandhu added: “We recorded and wrote so much music around this time. Before the pandemic, Andy’s illness would get better and would also come back so we were constantly dealing with circumstances that made moving the band forward difficult. But it’s what Andy, all the lads in the band, and I wanted to make work more than anything. So we constantly adapted to the challenges in front of us. We never stopped making music, recording and writing.”
Sandhu will play live as Blitz Vega on February 24 at London’s Scala.
An NME obituary to Rourke said: “In a band where two titanic talents intertwined – Morrissey’s vocal tumblings and arch lyrical ennui; Johnny Marr’s virtuoso, weightless guitar work – it took immense skill to mirror, support and underpin Marr’s quicksilver riffs and meanders, every bit as nimble, pacey and adaptable but never forcing his way stage-front and tripping up the song.”