Although the support slot on the European tour with Hell Is For Heroes gave them exposure in the UK it didn't really touch on what makes the band special. Their headlining shows see them throwing away the songbook and free-styling for the best part of hour while still maintaining a certain degree of pop sensibility. The bands second album "Hot Blood" sees them collaborating with MC5 member Wayne Kramer while their debut featuring guest spots from members of QOTSA and White Zombie and it's this idea of collaboration which Bluebird see as bringing the hip-hop community spirit to rock music. Designer Magazine caught up with frontman Sam James to find out more.
You've just finished the Hell Is For Heroes tour in the UK. I guess the
idea of 3 radically different rock bands on one tour is something you wouldn't
have experienced in the States. Is that the case?
A: I don't believe in homogeny at all, especially in music or art. I think that's the deaf knell of art. In America it's really common to put 3 of the same bands on a bill and that doesn't do anything for the listener or the audience member, there's nothing challenging about that. That just creates conformity and in America it ends up with every kid looking exactly the same and every kid has the same 10 CDs and I just don't believe in that...I believe in expanding their minds.
this tour we've only had 30 minutes so we've been experimenting a little
bit, but when we get out to Europe were going to open it up. Some of the
songs were playing, like "Bang The Drum" is a 3-minute song on record but
we stretch it out to about 7 minutes in the live shows where were deconstructing
the middle of the song. If you look at the bands from the Seventies like
Led Zeppelin and Miles Davis and they would expand upon their songs live.
If it was up to our bass player we'd never play one f**king song.
If you listen to the "Hot Blood" album you
can't necessarily place it next to any other band that is around at
the moment. It must give you a sense of freedom?
A: That's what we want. We don't just want to be lumped into a garage rock scene or an emo scene. Were Bluebird and I’d rather have scene's be created because of us. When we first started playing together we weren't even working on songs, it was all about the sounds and improvisation and just wanting to grow organically from that to create something fresh. With American bands 8 out of 10 songs will all sound the same and that's not something we wanted for our record...not that we wanted every song to sound like a different band.
If I didn't know previous you were from LA it wouldn't necessarily have
come across in the music that you came from that location.
A: What does an LA band sound like? Slayer are from LA and they don't sound sun-shiny. I've always thought that it's an interesting idea to express darkness through pop. I've always been intrigued by that idea, not that were expressing darkness because I think that what we do is this journey back and forth between dark and light.
How was it working with MC5's Wayne Kramer on "Beautiful Believer"
A: Just a dream come true. Huge MC5 fans - MC5 fans being one of the most important rock bands ever, especially at the time in 1968, blasting out this soul inspired rock music with political undertones. And being influenced by things such as Sun-Ra as well as the Who. Just a lot of things that we connect to as individuals in the band, but then having him come and join us one of the tracks is just amazing.
really believe in collaboration and having people join you on records.
It's something that rarely happens in rock music, it's more of a hip-hop
thing because hip-hop is a stronger community and you'll have guests coming
on for every other song.
Paul Fig of Amen recently joined the band. Has that seen a shift in the
sound and direction of the band of late?
A: It's a really interesting thing because none of us are Amen fans. I think I'm the only one in the band who has seen Amen and I didn't like them. But we'd known Paul through a mutual friend and he had been a fan of our band through seeing us in LA. Basically we were looking for a second guitar player and word got around a couple of days after he quite Amen and within a couple of weeks he came and played with us.
Carrying on the theme of collaborations and guest spots on Bluebird records.
Is there anyone else you've worked with or would like to work with?
A: We haven't released it over hear yet, but it will probably come out on import. We did a record called "Black Presence" which was about 80% improvisational. We kind of laid down a few rhythms and built on them without anything premeditated. And within that record we had a bunch of collaborations - Dave Catching who played in a band called the Earthlings and used to be in QOTSA, our friend J Yuenger who plays guitar and used to be in White Zombie, Andrew Rothbard and Josh Hughes from an amazing American rock band called Pleasure Forever.
"Hot Blood" is out now on Dim Mak
For more info
Post your Bluebird reviews / comments on the Message Board