Black Hats
Gig Seeker Pro

Black Hats

Oxford, England, United Kingdom | SELF

Oxford, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Rock Punk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Swindon Advertiser, January 2011"

"This brilliant Oxford band mix up driving pop punk with wonderfully elegant, big chorus rock and spiky off-kilter modishness. Miss them at your peril." - Dave Franklin

"Outroversion blog, April 2011"

"In a city shrouded by a cloud of intelligentsia, math rock and deliberately innaccesible thinking man’s music it takes a smarter and braver band to break the mould and thrust post-punk shoutalong anthems more in the vein of Future of the Left or The Young Knives than Radiohead or Foals." - Simon Duffield

"Green Man Music review, June 2011"

Black Hats are a post punk powerhouse. They’re unremitting and unstoppable with ideas jumping out of their lyrics and lighting the synapses with more animation than Pixar. - Joy Hanley

"Oxfringe write-up, June 2011"

"Coming at you like a Dr Peppers shot, with their post-punk, dub-beat ska-riff belting live show." - Coo Promotions

"Music in Oxford, June 2011"

"...a slick new wave canter with an anthemic culture-yob chorus and the hint of some amphetamine ska lurking just below the surface." - David Murphy

"Hobgoblin, Staines, June 2011"

...their songs and intelligent musicianship elevates them to a higher level. Yes, they may be a bunch of amoral, discontented antisocial misfits – wearing ‘Two Ronnies’ glasses - but they are also talented, effervescent with energy and almost academic in their production. - Neil Mach

"Tunnels single review"

"‘Tunnels’ - an alternately frenetic and self-contemplating mix of rock fury, squiggling electronics and big, bold spacious power-pop... ‘Blood & Space’ - bolshier, funkier, a pop song fuelled up for a fight, its mood edgy, always on the edge of going off on one." - Nightshift Music Magazine

"Magnets EP review"

"Magnets is all spiky New Wave guitars, strident drums and hyper bass, running all around the notes like an army of red ants. It's edgy yet accessible, in true Hats flavour." - Oxfordshire Music Scene

"Live review Feb 2010"

Moddish urchins in the mould of The Jam and The Who, they’re strident enough to fit in at a punk party, but with songs like ‘Just Fall’ and ‘We Write Things Down’, they’re anthemic yob-savants of pop’s highest order. - Nightshift magazine

"Magnets EP review"

"Consistently one of the most invigorating live bands in town over the last year, The Black Hats’ debut album, ‘What’s Not To Understand’, gathered their tunes well enough but perhaps left some of their live energy behind. This new foursong EP more than adequately makes up for it.

The songs here are sharper and more succinct than those on the album and course with yobbish swagger and singalong gumption. ‘Magnets’ itself is a staccato pop-punk bundle, jerky and robotic with nods to The Automatic and even Foals for brief moments, while, ‘The Getaway’ is a skinny-armed, punked-up Who. ‘Just Fall’ is (by The Black Hats’ usually frenetic, knock-and-run standards) spacious and languid, a chance to out their inner U2, a battling pocket pop anthem. But they leave the best to last with ‘We Write Things Down’, that leaps with abandon into full-on post-hardcore thrash-pop territory.

That The Black Hats have followed up their album so quickly shows they’re not standing about waiting for anyone to come to them. That they’ve produced an EP of such consistency and melodic strength, while retaining all that on-stage vigour shows that they may well be on course to be one of the most exciting bands around in 2010." - Nightshift Music Magazine

"Oxford Bands review"

"I’m going to say it: you can make a case that The Black Hats are the closest Oxford has to Bon Jovi.

It’s not that Nick Breakspear’s ever more accomplished trio sound an awful lot like the New Jersey stadium rockers-they are too punky, too rough around the edges and haven’t been airbrushed into massive-sounding studio perfection. Nevertheless, there is in the swagger of Breakspear’s major-key working class anthems an echoing response to the confident blue collar affirmation purveyed for years numberless by the Tri-State eighties stalwarts.

The Hats’ current EP, Magnets, sees the band at their terse, disciplined best, in contrast to their patchy and sometimes repetitive album ‘What’s Not to Understand?’. The eponymous track sets the tone pretty well, with Ian Budd’s jaunty bass line underpinning Breakspear’s genially yobbish rhetoric. He might claim that he is a ‘magnet for trouble’, but you know the sort of trouble he’s referring to is a cuff on the chin by Fozzy Bear, rather than anything more distressing or permanent. Unusually for the Hats, there’s a bit of understated synthesizer squelch in the mix, and in general the record feels bigger, brasher and a bit less garage-bound than previous recordings. Producer Lee Christian is no Bob Rock, but he’s successfully coaxed a more substantial sound from the three, and I think their style of music could do with that.

‘Getaway’ represents prime danceable classic rock, combining swedging beats, Breakspear’s ardent, raspy tenor and some simple but effective harmonies. Better yet is the urgent, angular ‘Just Fall’, my favourite Black Hats song, and featuring one of Breakspear’s finest vocal performances. In the past he’s sometimes sacrificed tone for attitude, but here he is just a great rock singer, with no reservations.

‘Magnets’ is the sound of a band growing in confidence and ambition. After the rather cramped, snappy feel of the album, this is grand, energetic and tune-filled rock, made by musicians who are supremely committed and are finding both their voice and their space.

Clearly, they were not born to follow." -

"OMS review"

"We warmly welcome back the Al Pacino of ....Oxford.... punk-rock, and his band of merry men (although the comparison with the ..Hollywood.. star primarily concerns Nick Breakspeare’s phrasing (“I'm talking.... now I’M SHOUTING!!!... talking again...NOW SHOUTING!!! “ ).

Another tenuous connection with the anti-hero of ‘Scarface’ may arise when we consider the cover art of ‘Magnets’ and what looks like, to the trained Music Journalist’s eye, an image of small piles of fine white powder (particularly on the far left of the cover) and residue. Were it not due to previous offering ‘The Change’ [sp] (an ode to the joys and otherwise of dependence on the erstwhile White Lady of Columbia), we might presume that the ‘Hats are offering (with their packaging) a handy surface for storing spare washing powder.

Be that as it may, opening title track ‘Magnets’ is all spiky New Wave guitars, strident drums and hyper bass, running all around the notes like an army of red ants. It’s edgy yet accessible, in true ‘Hats flavour. There is also the presence on this EP of some additional production work – more keyboards and some sweet and subtle sound effects and samples. Plus a bit of the old ska-thrash (more about that later). ‘

The Getaway’ is next. An intense call to arms leading up to the deliciously epic chorus, complete with fractured guitars and pummelling rhythms “you don’t know what you have done...this was a time that you let get away!” It is sure to be a new live favourite.

Stand out track is ‘Just Fall’ [see boxed info for background]. Opening with a brief ambient soundscape, before the massive bass line, rim-shot drums and echoey guitars roll in. ‘Just Fall’ is irresistible. And militantly groovy. Nick’s vocals on the verse have a wonderful Rottensque sneer; especially with the lines “this could be, the first time, that I have ever been riiight...! I hope I’m wrong this tiiime... I hope I’m wrong,” before it crashes into double time, the major scale and a life affirming chorus. It then goes back to the Dub with some chiming guitars and that infectious riff, verse, triumphant chorus, before another punk-skank work out on the bridge and back again... All in just over four minutes. Well done, lads. Send it to Zane Lowe!

There now follows an existential moment when we write down; “We Write things Down”. The closing track is more traditional Black Hats. Fast, slow, fast. Air tight looping riffs (plus a xylophone) and an infectious sing-along. “Does anyone around know who I am...?” Nick enquires, in character, before the chorus: “We write things, we write things down, to show we were there... !” The next verse; “Do pictures fade, go to the grave... I know far too much about far too little, and I am always by my side....” Yeah, what kind of sad and misguided cretin does that; goes to events alone and writes – to prove they were there! What an eejit! Ah...hang on... The new Black Hats EP; Magnets; in a word – assertive."

- Oxfordshire Music Scene


Kick in the Doors - April 2012
Tunnels/Blood and Space (Double A/side) - September 2010
Magnets (EP) - November 2009
What's Not to Understand? - May 2009

Airplay on BBC 6Music & BBC Introducing (Oxford)
Regular internet/podcast airplay including US college radio.
All releases available on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby etc

Most tracks also streamed streamed on our website.



With an insistent power pop sound and a visceral, energetic live show come a new guitar band with solid tastemaker support and an active on line fan base.

Hailing from Witney in Oxfordshire, Black Hats are Ian Budd (Bass & Vocals), Nick Breakspear (Guitar & Vocals) and Mark Franklin (Drums & Vocals). Having spent the last 18 months earning a reputation on the vibrant and competitive Oxford music scene - recently sighted by the Guardian as a current hot bed of new music in the UK - the band are now ready to reach out to national audiences with a debut single and a national tour.

Produced by Sam Williams (Plan B, Supergrass) Kick in the Doors sets a hectic pace and makes a statement that is all post punk/power pop attitude and clarion call hooks and rhythms. Its release on Monday April 16 2012 is supported by radio plugging and PR from Ollie McCormack at Top Button Digital and coincides with the release on Monday May 26 2012 of the bands mini album Austerity for the Hoi Polloi. (Distribution – Fine Tunes)

Support for Black Hats has already come from BBC Introducing Oxfordshire and BBC 6Music (Tom Robinson) for previous unreleased tracks. Oxford’s respected music journal Nightshift has sighted Black Hats as ‘ahead of the current crop.’

Supporting the release of Kick in the Doors will be the Black Hats ‘Secret Gig’ Tour. The reputation around their visceral and energetic live show has resulted in packed audiences at festivals such as Wychwood Festival 2011 and Cornbury Music Festival, plus support slots with Electric Six and The Hoosiers, have seen the band reach out to an ever widening audience.

To add to the angular approach of the Secret Gig campaign Mark, Ian and Nick will engage fans with a series of ‘puzzles’ on social media to take advantage of the bands already active fan base.

Management support and campaign strategy is via Mark Muggeridge at Evil Genius Media.