Shelton Woolright on how Blindspott let go of old grudges to make new music as rockers release first song in 15 years

They're the only band in New Zealand music history to have an album go to number one twice, nearly two decades apart - irrefutable proof of a band with an ability to capture a generation. 

Blindspott shot to fame in the early 2000s, but several public fall-outs saw it all come crashing down. When they reformed last year to play their debut album, they were stunned by the response - and in it, they found their reason to return to the studio 

"We kind of felt like we owed it to people," the band's drummer, Shelton Woolright, told Newshub. 

Woolright explained that the nu-metal group that formed in a garage in 1997 were able to "pick up where they left off", albeit with a better understanding of each other and what their music means to their fans. 

"I'm proud of us to be able to put that stuff aside and go: 'I was a dickhead, you were a dickhead too, but together we do something special that the public appreciate," Woolright said. 

Their new single is called 'RIP', which may sound like a counterintuitive name for a comeback song, but for the childhood mates who went from playing West Auckland house parties to sharing a stage with Metallica, it's not an ending, but a new beginning. 

"We got in the room and we were just like, we've actually still got this, I think because we took a break," Woolright explained. 

"Our songwriting skills have matured and grown because we've all gone off and done different things with our lives. I think it's some of our best work, and I genuinely believe that." 

The band isn't shying away from their chequered past, instead, using the 'dark energy from their tough times to fuel their creativity. 

"You've got to be glad for every experience you have in life because that's the only way you're going to grow," Woolright said. 

"So as much as you might regret hurting someone, or being hurt, it's still all part of growth.

"We're like a brotherhood, people don't understand that when you're in a band you spend more time together as a family, but then you all have different upbringings and values so then there kind of comes a clash." 

Much of Blindspott's initial success came from a groundswell of local kids that saw themselves in the band members, and that theme has continued throughout the years, even despite the group's publicised issues. What could be more relatable than navigating conflict with those closest to you? 

"I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that - having a fall out with a loved one and then you kind of go 'Oh, that person's actually a part of me'." 

Amid the excitement of the new song, the impact of Blindspott's old hits is ever-evolving - something Woolright found out for himself after experiencing the band's biggest hit 'Phlex' in an entirely new way after losing a friend to suicide. 

"I was at the funeral, and I had no idea this was going to happen, but when they took his casket out they played the song and it hit me," Woolright revealed. 

"I was like, 'Oh that's what it is, that's what it's done to people'." 

Woolright said he never properly understood the song until that day, but was always moved by the way in which fans responded to it. 

"Every single show we've played, bar none, we've had someone come up asking to dedicate the song to a friend that's recently died or [someone] who loved that song," Woolright said. 

"When we did our comeback tour we invited our fans to send photographs of their loved ones who had passed away, and on the screens behind us we had hundreds and hundreds of photos," he added. 

"I remember every night I would look over my shoulder and see all these faces, and some of them were my friends too, and then looking forward and seeing all these lighters and cellphones in the crowd… we're very blessed to be a part of it." 

"Out of anything from my musical career - to be able to have a song that has impacted people in that way, I'm really really happy," Shelton said. 

With a summer tour booked in, and several 'volumes' of new music yet to be released, Woolright said Blindspott plans on continuing to play until the fans stop listening, which doesn't seem likely any time soon. 

Watch the video above to hear more from Woolright about Blindspott's past, present and future, including his run-ins with System of a Down and Metallica at the start of his career.