Blindspott: The meteoric rise, messy fallout and eventual rebirth of the iconic Kiwi band

Accepting their past, recognising their mistakes and moving forward with a renewed outlook on their relationship, Blindspott's three founding members are ready to rock almost a decade since their last show.

In the lead-up to the band's reunion show at the Powerstation on Friday, when they will headline The Rock's annual 1500 countdown of the station's most revered anthems of the year, Shelton Woolright, Damian Alexander and Marcus Powell explained how three Westies created one the country's most iconic rock groups.

At the height of their success, they were helicoptered to the stage, headlined events in New Zealand and toured the world. In 2002, their self-titled debut album went platinum in its first week of release.

The young musicians went on to suffer a publicised breakdown destined to test the love for their craft, strength as band mates and commitment to create hits together.

After coming together in 1997, Blindspott were adamant from the beginning that music was what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

The band first showcased their sound at parties in west Auckland (pictured: Damian Alexander)
The band first showcased their sound at parties in west Auckland (pictured: Damian Alexander) Photo credit: Blindspott

Woolright and Powell had been friends since they were two years old, and when the pair met Alexander, a bond was created over developing a sound of their own.

"I think the cool thing for us is we just started writing original music pretty much straight away," Woolright told Newshub.

It started with playing parties in west Auckland.

"These parties don't exist anymore - it was like 400-500 people in a garage in West Auckland, or a surf club, or in a field somewhere, and the riot police were there. It was there was a pretty loose kind of time," he said.

"We were inspired by the bands we were listening to and the covers we're playing at these parties - slowly, it got more and more serious."

As they grew a cult-like following, the group worked to make music their own way, never rushing the songwriting process.

"It's something that we've always worked to, the fact that we won't release anything until we're really happy," Alexander said.

The first song they wrote together was 'Nil By Mouth', which they played at huge gatherings, giving them their first taste of an audience.

"People started like liking it and we were amazed. You'd see two or three people singing along and realise the song was actually doing something.

"Before we were signed, we had a massive loyal fan base."

Each member brought a diverse range of aptitudes within a creative frontier, which were combined and used as further motivation to be the best.

"Shelton was a photographer, Marcus was an incredible songwriter and I was a designer - so together, we had all the elements to create a brand," Alexander said.

Caught in the transition between music being released physically to digitally, with no social media to aid their music being heard, methods were devised to naturally expand their prominence.

Though dead-set on making it, they remained mindful that their hobby, doubling as their vocation, was leading them in another direction from their peers.

"Being from west Auckland, there wasn't too much else to do, you know - we could kind off go on a different path, we saw a lot of friends do that," Woolwright said.

"This was a great thing to kind of take our attention away from the things that we might have gotten into. Then, we were in the studio and started on the record," he said.

The group grew a cult-like following, remaining set on making music their own way (pictured: Marcus Powell)
The group grew a cult-like following, remaining set on making music their own way (pictured: Marcus Powell) Photo credit: Blindspott

After signing with EMI, Blindspott released their first album, shipping 11,000 records off the bat - one of the largest achievements for a rock band on the label at that time.

"Everything we made was as professional as we could make it, and it never felt like work. That was what kept us alive and excited," Woolright said.

"Even getting our first single on radio, we got all our friends to ring and request us, we pushed the shit out of it, we rang everybody, we didn't give up and they played it and the song worked."

As they prepared to unleash their first collection of tracks, Powell said the group would research radio stations in the US and Europe before sending CDs in an envelope, hoping they arrived.

"There was no Dropbox," Alexander laughs.

"All of us would print 5000 stickers and spend weekend after weekend walking around Auckland City putting stickers everywhere."

With tunes like 'Room to Breathe', 'Blank' and 'Lit Up', their album went number one - ultimately achieving triple-platinum status - and their exposure ballooned.

"The album was received really well, people really liked it," Alexander said.

"For us humble 20-somethings, just going 'Our record is blowing up' - it was a cool time. It was a really memorable, amazing time for us."

Their smash hit Phlex didn't strike only a sentimental chord with fans - evolving into an anthem for people dealing through difficult time and a song played at funerals - but also is held in a special place for the group’s members.

"It had a story that meant a lot to us," Woolright said, "But by God did it mean a lot to the general public.

"From that moment that it got released and went gold, every single show that we played there would be someone, that would someone get to the band, or a letter would get passed to us explaining a tragic situation, it was played at a lot of funerals, and as sad as that is, we're really proud to have written a song like that, that people have a connection to their friends and their lost friends."

Woolright revealed the song came back around more than 15 years to add another level of significance to him when he lost a friend to suicide.

The song was almost overlooked by the record company, who didn't want the track to be included. Eventually, however, it slipped into number two on the music charts, pulling more passionate Blindspott supporters.

Powell recalls one instance of being totally blown away by their reach at a Big Day Out, playing the opening slot to no one before a stream of people flooded to the stage as soon as the gates opened.

"All of a sudden we were a big band. It happened really, really fast," Woolright added.

"We were selling out massive shows and everything we were doing, anything we were touching, was turning to gold... Before we knew it, we were being helicoptered into shows in Asia, playing in front of 80,000 people.

"Our lives changed; we were from west Auckland [and] all of a sudden we were on billboards, we were on television ads. It was a lot to deal with.”

Blindspott's self-titled debut album went platinum in its first week before today reaching triple-platinum status.
Blindspott's self-titled debut album went platinum in its first week before today reaching triple-platinum status. Photo credit: Blindspott

While it was exciting, Woolwright said their quick rise to success also had its fair share of "massive negative things".

"It was really a weird part of our life, to be just chucked into this machine really, really fast," he said.

"You lost who you were at times and at that age, you are really easily influenced as well. As you can imagine, things happen."

They smashed through change, adapting and learning how to treat themselves as a business - but emotions were running high working so close to one another, and pressure began to mount.

Along the way, Alexander admits they forgot the intentions they had started out with and members began to clash, fighting to a point where all of their lives needed to go in a different direction.

To be able to look back now, remember the beauty of the music without the expectations, and sit on the same couch is a welcome relief to the group.

"People don't understand that you spend so much time together; you travel together, you sleep in a hotel together, you're on a plane together, you're at the lobby call together, you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner together," Woolwright said.

"Every moment is way more than a family, and everyone knows how much they fight with their own family.

"Dealing with all of that and being a young age and dealing with success, the expectations are there as well... all sorts of stuff happens - it's the classic rock 'n' roll story."

Blindspott will play The Rock's 1500 annual countdown at the Powerstation on Friday.
Blindspott will play The Rock's 1500 annual countdown at the Powerstation on Friday. Photo credit: Supplied

Powell said that for him it feels it's simpler times now, having outlined their intentions and understanding what they want to achieve.

"It has become easier for us to navigate our world. That's humbling for me because I can tell my family what is happening, 'These are the tour dates', and it's easy for get some positive momentum because we're all on the same page," he said.

"It's about being in it now," Alexander said, adding: "One of the first meetings we had was going through a clear statement of intent each of what we wanted out of this reunion and what it meant and that set it up.

"For us at the moment, we haven't talked massively about the future, we just want to enjoy each other's company, become friends again, enjoy the music, enjoy the reaction from the fans, you get caught up in this moment, and it moves so fast thinking about the next step, or you're worried about what someone else in the band is doing."

The group are today optimistic, focusing on their needs as individual artists and working as one team, to tear apart The Rock's 1500 Countdown and put together an awesome showcase, reviving their talents and classics.

"Everything disappears. There's nothing else in my head but the words and what I want to give to those people and what I want give to us as a band because it's them it's the most amazing feeling in the world," Alexander said.

"There is no drug out there that gets close to what we get to do, it's incredible... it's therapy."