Sad Night Dynamite’s Josh Greacen and Archie Blagden joke and riff off of each other with the ease of lifelong pals — because they are. They each played music throughout grade school, later studying music tech in high school in Somerset, England. By graduation in 2019, the best friends were creating original music as a pair and independently released their debut track under a different name (which the duo refuses, in good humor, to reveal out of “total shame”).
Josh recalls that their process felt “quite organic” — and as a result of such authenticity, the song went viral. “It kind of blew up and we were like, ‘Well, we don’t have to go back to school,’” he adds.
Instead, the UK duo signed a deal with Elektra/Parlophone Records last March and began forming plans for its label debut, which arrived in late February. Though the duo’s debut mixtape still came out, much of their rollout strategy changed due to the pandemic. But still, they’re optimistic their time will come: “I hope we get to give this mixtape a proper sendoff at some point — we always wrote it imagining we’d play it to people,” says Josh, with Archie promising, “We’ll still have that party, even if no one cares.”
Josh gave his first public performance at seven years old, playing piano scales at a school concert. “I always took it seriously,” he says, joking that by the time he was 12, “I was already semi-pro.” Meanwhile, Archie was in an acoustic group at school, where he played classical and Spanish guitar compositions but yearned to play rock music, so he learned AC/DC and Led Zeppelin with a private teacher. The duo’s friendship formed long before they started making music together, though their bond strengthened with each project they formed throughout high school, including a band with friends that saw a pop-leaning track take off on Soundcloud. “We were trying to rewrite that [song] for two or three years,” Josh says of their early efforts. “I thought, ‘This is it! We’re charting!’” Archie laughs. Over that period, they realized they worked best when it was just the two of them, officially forming Sad Night Dynamite in 2020. “A couple of people we’d been working with had moved on to their own thing,” says Josh. “It got to a place where it was just Archie and I.”
In January 2020, Elektra flew Josh and Archie out to New York. Though they only had a handful of songs written, the label was immediately sold on their dynamic and self-assured vision. “One thing that was really important to us is that we had complete creative control over everything,” Josh says. Elektra was on board, and since signing in March 2020, SND has “been allowed to do what we want and make the videos and music we want without any creative restrictions.” They officially debuted as a group during the global pandemic, releasing their self-titled mixtape in February. The nine-track set is Twenty One Pilots-meets-Suicide Squad soundtrack, but wrapped in something unmistakably their own. “You can hear a development of our sound in the mixtape,” says Josh. “You’ve got some songs from the beginning where we realized we could do this, and then you’ve got late tracks, like ‘Killshot’ and ‘Smoke Hole,’ [that] show the direction we want to go in.”
As the return of live music gets the green light, SND will embark on a string of tour dates in the UK and U.S. later this year. “It’s been easy for us to do music, but the hardest thing is not being able to [play] live,” Josh admits. Until then, the pair is readying an upcoming EP what could feature some high-profile collaborators — they’ve recently been in the studio (either in person or remotely) with FKA Twigs, Glass Animals, and rapper IDK. “We’re in a lot of DMs at the moment,” says Josh. “We’re realizing that the DMs have a lot of power.” (“They bloody do,” Archie pipes in.) Josh says the pandemic has provided an environment where they can work with “zero distractions,” and that they’ve “found the sweet spot” within their writing. “I think we’ve got some of our best tracks — I know that we have — that haven’t been released yet,” he says. “We’re just buzzing for the future.”