RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN ARTIST BLUEBURST
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
When I was a very little kid, my parents had one of those big stereo systems that were like a piece of furniture, and I used to lift up the top of it, rest it on my head, and listen to the records while watching them turn around. So I guess it was in my blood early.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
Well, there’s me. I played in a 90s band in Dallas, TX called The Reach. We made a record and got some major label interest at the time, but nothing ever panned out. From there I just kinda went into a “musical hibernation” I call it, and never finished or released any new music. But hey, I’m back! And this is the best music I’ve ever made.
Then there’s Marty Willson-Piper, who’s been one of my favorite musicians since I first discovered The Church’s “Starfish” album back in high school. He’s got a list of accomplishments too long to list here, so I’ll refer you to his website, martywillson-piper.com. He’s been serving as a mentor, co-producer, co-writer, and general cheerleader for me throughout this project.
Michael Jerome is a drummer I knew back in Dallas, when he played in my favorite local band, called pop poppins. Since then he’s played with Course of Empire, Richard Thompson, John Cale, Toadies, and more. He’s currently on tour with Better Than Ezra.
Ryan Kelly is a tremendous bass player who spent about a decade I think in an Athens, GA band called Dayroom.
Name me your 3 favorite Albums? Gosh, that’s a tough one, but I’ll go with…
Brian Wilson Presents “Smile”
Rush – Moving Pictures
R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
It wasn’t the first song by any means, but when I saw Peter Gabriel do “San Jacinto” live on the Secret World tour, I decided then and there that I wanted to get serious about music.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
Well, I’d probably be doing a lot better if I hadn’t taken 20 years off! But considering that the first Blueburst single came out just a few days ago, I think it’s going really well. It’s gotten a great response from lots of people other than my mother.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Gosh. That’s a terrible thing. I don’t go to a whole lot of live shows anymore, so I don’t really see it. I think more security is always a good thing. And I think musicians calling out bad behavior from the stage when they see it can help.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
It’s all so new to me, and I’m just getting started, so I can’t really tell what’s been effective or not yet. I think that the frequency of posts has a lot to do with it. Marty is great about posting his blog every day without fail, and I think that’s fun for people.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you?
I finished last in the 1992 Georgia Open Golf tournament.
I once put a spider and a battery into a bucket of water, to make the spider radioactive so it could turn me into Spider-Man.
I own two Doberman Pinschers.
Whats your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
I think they do a lot of things very well, and provide the best product of any of the streamers by far. So they deserve it mostly. That’s capitalism after all. But I do wish they’d pay their musicians more. I don’t understand how Tidal can pay almost double per stream. But there’s not much you can do about it as a musician. The only way musicians would have any power over it is if a whole bunch of major league, Taylor Swift/Beyonce level artists pulled their music in protest.
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
None whatsoever. That kind of thinking is cancer on American society at the moment and I don’t understand how people can be so dumb.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Loads of things! Too many to count.
What was the worst experience on stage?
I was onstage at a happy hour bar show in Dallas at the exact moment that OJ Simpson was driving his white Bronco through Los Angeles. Literally, everyone in the place had their back to me and was watching the TV screen behind the bar. And to be honest, I was kinda trying to watch it too as I was playing.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I grew up in a very conservative household and was kind of a country club kid. A far cry from me now.
Marty, who you might expect to have an ego based on everything he’s done, has absolutely none, and is totally humble and awesome to be around.
Michael told me his old band pop poppins opened up for the now legendary group, The La’s. Not many people can say that.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I think the fact that I’m a 50-year-old making a debut album gives me a unique perspective. I’m attempting to bridge the gap between stubbornly sticking with the influences and ideas I grew up with, while trying to evolve and be more modern. Also, I think most of the 50+ year olds out there making records have probably been doing it for a long time, and are at least a little bit jaded and burned out, whereas I’m just getting started. I’m fired up! I want to make some music that shakes people and makes them want to leap out of their chairs.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
Yes, we have our debut single “Vanish”, which is actually based on a riff I wrote and recorded over 20 years ago, but never finished until now. Thematically, I think it’s kind of a sequel to The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Pete Townsend seemed to be saying yes to joining the fight against “the man”, but with a complete pessimism that it would do any good. This song is about being so pessimistic, that you just decide to bail out and go live your life.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
Thematically, I generally just sing gibberish at first over my instrumental tracks until I say something I find interesting. But I think what’s come out that way is songs inspired by hitting age 50, learning to deal with regret, hoping to make a mark somehow, and realizing in your bones that we all only get a limited time on this Earth, so you better make the most of it while you can
What was the recording process like?
I start by recording my guitar, bass and synth parts with a pre-programmed drum track. Then, Michael gets the stem tracks in LA and records his drums along with them. And then Marty added his solo parts from his home in Porto, Portugal. Amazing what you can do these days. Lastly, I went into a studio here to record my vocals, with Marty listening in from Portugal and coaching me through it. I learned a ton from that and I’m really happy with how the vocals came out.
One of the biggest things that happened was that after I tried to mix the songs myself for a while, Marty finally convinced me I needed to bring in a pro. So, I found Ben Etter here in Atlanta at Maze Studios, and he’s brought a ton to the whole process of recording with Marty and then mixing the songs. And with the huge number of tracks and denseness of the sound we’re after, mixing this stuff is not easy. But Ben’s really nailed it and squeezed a lot of extra excitement out of the songs.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Just forcing myself to finish. And learning that it’s not nearly as much about divine inspiration as it is about putting in hours and hours until you get something you like
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Not a thing. This song came out exactly how I pictured it in my head. And I almost never say that about anything/
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I think it’s so much easier for a kid growing up now to make music in their bedroom on a digital device than it is to actually play in a rock band. And that shows in the tone and tempo of most modern music. A lot of slow or mid tempo stuff. When’s the last time you heard a modern song as fast as something like The Police’s “Driven to Tears”, or The B-52’s “Private Idaho” or even R.E.M.’s “Gardening at Night”, which is mellow, but deceptively fast. Personally, I miss the energy, life and exuberance of the post-punk stuff like that. That’s what I’m after with Blueburst.