Das heutige Interview wurde mit Martin J. Andersen von der Band BLINDSTONE gemacht. Martin ist der Gitarrist und Sänger der dänischen Band. Er hat sich Zeit genommen einige Fragen für www.melodic-rock-inside.com zu beantworten.
Hi Martin, I am Michael and welcome to Melodic-Rock-Inside.com. Thank you for having time for the interview.
Thanks Michael, my pleasure.
I have some question for you.
I have some question for you.
By all means, go right ahead!1. Could you tell us please what are you currently up to?
At the moment, we are getting ready for a couple of gigs in the fall. A couple here in Denmark, and one in Sweden. We've had a bit of a summer break, so we need to lose the rust and get back into shape :-)
Also, we've begun accumulating material for the next Blindstone album, which will hopefully be out sometime next year.
2.Could you take us through the songs on the Blindstone album “Rise above” (such as ideas behind the songs, songwriting process)?
Rise Above: The title was a suggestion from our record label, and we wrote the song around that title. It's a pretty heavy track, tuned way down. Originally, I was going to do the solo myself, and I actually already had it recorded, but then the opportunity arose to have Ty Tabor guest on the album. We figured that the solo spot on Rise Above would be fitting for him, so I removed my own solo, and he played on it instead, and did an incredible job, I might add!!! King's X is of course one of our influences as a group, and we were (and still are) blown away by the fact that Ty would want to be on one of our songs! A HUGE moment for us!
Power Man: The first song we wrote for the album. In fact, we had only very recently put out “Freedom's Calling”, and “Power Man” was just this one demo that we did and sent to Joe Romagnola from Grooveyard Records, just to hear his opinion. We hadn't planned on beginning work on another album so soon, but Joe liked it so much that he said “well, write some more songs, and let's put out another disc as soon as we can” !!!.
Musically, it's really a Blues structure, with a couple of different chords thrown in, except for the quiet solo section, which is slightly different from the rest of the song.
The lyrics deal with the “power men”, the old guys in charge, you know, and how i'd like to see a change soon. The second verse deals with the power people in the financial world, and how i'd like to see the really rich take more of a responsibility towards helping those in need. It's not like they have to look really hard for places where their money would help, you know?
Keep The Rock Alive: An effort to take the unison bass/guitar riff to its extreme. We love that big sound, when the bass and guitar play a riff in unison. A big, powerful sound!
Some would probably point out a Zeppelin influence to this track, and I wouldn't blame them...
The lyrics are kind of angry, and reflect my feelings toward the mainstream music industry.
Climbing Up The Ladder: A cover version. The original was written and recorded by The Isley Brothers, back in the 70's. It's such a funky track with a couple of really cool riffs/basslines that are really fun to play. Plus it's a great opportunity to stretch out a bit on the guitar, as it has a couple of long solos in there. This song was actually suggested to us by a friend of ours from Finland, named Tapio. He thought it would be an interesting track for us to cover, and we wholeheartedly agreed! :-)
New Direction was primarily written by Jesper, our bassplayer. A really nice track, and slightly different for us, with the quiet bass-led bridge section. The words are Jesper's and so he really should be explaining the meaning of them, but I believe the title pretty much sums it up: taking your life in a New Direction.
Horizontal Activity, the slight Spinal Tap moment of the disc... It's about sex, of course, and about trying to convince your partner that it's time to get it on. It shouldn't be taken too seriously, it's kind of tongue-in-cheek... We wrote the music first, and I tried to write something that would be in keeping with the slightly funky feel it has. I don't know if the humor comes through properly, though.
Musically, it wouldn't have been out of place on our first disc, “Manifesto”. It sort of points back to that.
Sonic Motor King: Again, this is mostly one of Jesper's. It's kept pretty much as he introduced it to us. A KILLER main riff, as only Jesper writes them! He has an amazing ability to come up with something simple that has a lot of impact. I suppose the words are in keeping with the theme of “New Direction”, and about being high on life.
Wiser is sort of in the vein of the title track, musically, but a little more straight ahead. A heavy track, with low tuned guitars and bass. I usually play a 7-string guitar on the tracks that are below standard or D tuning, and this track is no exception.
The lyrics are kind of dark, though, and deal with how I feel that I'm not as involved with things that I really used to care about. Certain situations around us, and how I really used to invest myself emotionally in those. I guess it can be summed up as not caring as much about certain things as I used to do, giving up really... But the point of the lyrics is that it bothers me, how I've become more indifferent. It's a bit of a play on the old “older, but wiser” saying, as the point of the lyrics is that I've stopped caring as I've gotten older. Some would say that I'm just choosing when to get involved, and that it's a smarter way of using my energy, but to me, it felt like I didn't care as much. At least at the time of writing, anyway.
House Burning Down is by Jimi Hendrix, originally, and one of my favorite songs of his.
It's also one of the few Hendrix songs that I had decided to stay away from, as the original is just perfect. I didn't even know how to play it. It was really on a dare from Joe Romagnola that we decided to have a go at it. I'm really happy with the result, and I'm so happy and honored that Poul Halberg agreed to guest on the track. Poul is an institution here in Denmark, a player's player, who has played with or produced a LOT of Danish artists over the years. He used to be in some really popular bands, and has written some serious Danish hit songs that were part of the general soundtrack of my childhood and teenage years. In later years, he has put out a couple of KILLER albums with his own trio, exploring the music of his influences, i.e. Hendrix, Cream, The Doors, The Beatles, and others. I would recommend those albums to anybody who digs bluesy guitar music. I have, and have always had, a lot of respect for him as a musician, producer and songwriter. An incredible guitar player, and he turned out to be a really nice person as well!
Beyond The Purple Sky is the album closer (except for the hidden jam afterwards) and was written with that in mind. It's literally the last song we wrote for the album. It's very much in the vein of Hendrix and/or Robin Trower, and deliberately so. A loooooong guitar solo at the end, just like in the old days :-) It is actually the first and only take that I did on the solo. It is extremely rare for me, to put something down in the first take that I like, but I decided to keep this one. The lyrics are about loneliness, and about finding love when you least expect it.
The bonus jam is actually a live-in-the-studio, instrumental jam-version of Frank Marino's He's Calling. We play it live sometimes too, and it's such a fun song to play.
We recorded the whole album ourselves, on a small PC-setup in our rehearsal space. No outside engineers or anything. This is the way we've done all our discs. We were in a bit of a hurry to finish up the album, so I ended up mixing most of it during one, insane 18-hour session... I wouldn't recommend this to anyone! It is NOT the way to do it! I was walking around twitching for a month afterwards... I had a little too much stuff going on at the same time, and I was too nonchalant in my handling the deadline for the disc, so it's my own fault.
There's one song left from the recording sessions, called Hard Lovin' Man, which we didn't get to finishing properly. It may show up on a future disc. We'll see.
3. How has the reaction been so far, from reviewers and fans to the album ?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, both from the fans and the critics. Very, very positive! The consensus seems to be that this is our best album yet, and I would agree. Certainly in terms of the material, which I feel is our strongest batch of songs yet, and I feel we played better, both individually and as a group, than we ever have before. It's a growing and constantly developing process, and we learn new things, both technically and musically, every time we do a new disc. Of course, there's always room to improve...
4. Please tell how did Blindstone come together?
It's a long story, but the short answer is that we, the current lineup of Blindstone, all played together in another band in the early/mid 90's. That band split up, and Anders stopped playing entirely for a few years. We sort of went our separate ways , but stayed in touch. Jesper and I would jam together from time to time, and remained close friends. The following years, I was in a bunch of bands, playing many different styles, but not a lot of hard rock or blues based-music. Around 1998/99, Jesper and I ended up in a band together, called Daybreak, which was a melodic pop/rock outfit, pretty polished stuff. The drummer of that band was Benjamin Hove. Daybreak split up in 2002, after which I really wanted to get back to playing the harder edged, 60's/70's influenced, guitar heavy stuff, so I asked Jesper and Benjamin to join me in a power trio, and we chose the name Blindstone. We got a record deal pretty quick, something we hadnt been able to up until then, with any of the bands we'd been in, and we put out our first album, “Manifesto” in April, 2003. Along the way, Benjamin realised that he wasn't totally happy with the direction, plus he was really busy with a new job, so he split in august, 2003. Jesper and I agreed that the guy we would like to play with the most at that point was Anders, so we asked him if he was interested in picking up the drumsticks again. Fortunately, he was, and he played his first gig with us in November that year, I believe :-) . I can honestly say that Blindstone is the band I always dreamed of having, with the guys I always dreamed of playing this style of music with!
5. Are there any plans for live dates in Europe or specially in Germany and how easy/hard is it to get a decent run of tour dates?
There are no specific plans at the moment, but I would like to add that we would absolutely LOVE to play in Germany, anytime, anywhere!!!
At the moment, the musical climate in Denmark isn't really in favour of our style of music, so gigs are hard to come by. We have this fantasy that the good people of Germany would be more receptive to us, but so far, we haven't really been able to hook up with the right people. If anybody with the right connections reads this, please feel free to contact us!
All 3 of us have families and dayjobs, and the day only contains so many hours, so we could really use some help on the booking front.
6. What's in the pipeline now?
We always hope to get more shows! Playing in front of people is really what we do best, and like doing the most, you know? And so, it's kind of frustrating, not to get out there too much.
Other than that, we're writing material for a new album, as I mentioned earlier. We hope to release it sometime next year, but I can't be any more specific right now, unfortunately.
7. How hard/easy has it been to get yourself and your music known? How do you view downloads – do they help or hinder new artists?
I think it is safe to say that without the internet, NOONE would probably know about us. That's where it all happens. With the possibilities introduced by the internet, it is much easier to potentially get your music across to people. In our case, we are lucky to have a very dedicated record label helping us in spreading the word about us, but it is all via the internet. I mean, were we to rely on old-school, traditional ways of record distribution and promotion, nothing would happen, as we're really a niche type of band, playing a style of music that is outside of what is deemed the mainstream. Thankfully, all styles of music thrive and have an audience on the web, it's really just a matter of people looking in the right places. Thus, logically, there's also room for Blindstone. It then becomes a matter of getting people to know about you, and that's the real challenge. That's a constant, time-consuming process, and I suppose we could always work a little harder to get our name out there, and like I said earlier, we also have families and dayjobs to attend to, but we do our best.
I will say though, that it seems that every disc we put out seems to get us gradually more known to the public. I mean, this is the first time that You and I are talking, right? And that is because you've heard our music, so it seems that more and more people are getting on board. But it takes time and dedication to “spread the good word”, and it can be a frustrating ride.
On the matter of downloads, I don't have a simple answer. The advantage is obvious, in that in this day and age, you don't really need to manufacture any physical CD units to get your music out there and noticed. All you really need is a place to which you can upload your music. Obviously, this makes it possible for many more bands than before, to get their music potentially noticed, and the digital media (mp3's, the downloading technology, etc) obviously play a big part in this. So that in itself is a good thing, in my opinion. It remains to be seen, whether the physical recording media (CD's, etc.) will become completely obsolete in the future, but I have a feeling they ultimately will. Although I personally prefer the feel of a physical CD, I think we're arriving at a new way of doing things, where there's no need for physical media on which to store the music, except on a hard drive of some sort. All you need is a device that can download and play the music. The technology needs to get better for me to accept this as the only way of playing back music, but I suppose they will eventually get there. All of this, so far, is okay with me. That's just the evolution of the media, whether you like it or not. Thus, downloads are probably going to be the only way that we obtain music in the future, and I can see why. It's fast, easy and like I said earlier, it makes it much easier for the artists to make their music available.
BUT, (and there is a HUGE “but” to all this) there's also a dark side to the downloading technology, and that is of course the possibility of obtaining music illegally, i.e. without compensating the artist, which is totally unacceptable to me. The sales of music are spiralling downwards at a totally out-of-control rate all over the world, and it can only be explained by the availability of technology that makes it possible to get for free, what you otherwise had to pay for. And I feel that the problem is not being taken seriously, by those who actually have the power to do something about it. The big search engines, well the people behind them really, share a huge responsibility in this, in their unwillingness to do something about the problem. It would be very easy for them, to set their search engines to ignore certain types of sites where music can be obtained for free illegally. And that is just for starters! For example, I simply don't believe that a file format cannot be invented that is safe, un-shareable, and uncopy-able. And I also believe that such a format could very easily be made the new standard file format for music.
So yes and no, downloads help the artists in getting their music out there, but there are many people out there downloading illegally like madmen, quickly removing the incentive for putting out recorded music at all...
Given that it's seemingly becoming more and more acceptable to download music without paying for it, I predict that before too long, artists will be downright LOSING money by releasing their music to the public, at least at the level we are at. Of course, this isn't a particularly motivating thought, and it brings along the question, whether you can actually AFFORD making your music available to the public... The making of an album is a far too intricate, time consuming and expensive process for us to go through, if we knew we would not at least have our expenses covered. Quite simply, it wouldn't be worth the effort. You have your very soul invested in it, and it is hard, exacting work, and nobody wants to work for nothing in return.
Many illegal downloaders probably have dayjobs that they get paid for doing. They should start thinking about, whether they would be interested in doing such a job (no matter how interesting, and emotionally and/or intellectually rewarding such a job might be) without getting paid...
8.Who have been the biggest musical influences on you and why?
For me as a guitar player, i'd have to say Jimi Hendrix. I'm influenced by many others as well, but Hendrix is the absolute main one. Why? His music just hit me real hard! I can't know for sure, but I think there's a distinct possibility that I wouldn't be playing the guitar if I hadn't heard Hendrix at a certain point in time.
As a band, i'd sayHendrix, Cream, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Funkadelic, but also newer bands like King's X, Soundgarden, Audioslave, and others.
9. What really gets on your nerves and really annoys you at the moment?
Hehe, see the downloading thing...
10. Message to your fans...
There are are no words in any language that can express our gratitude towards the people who have chosen to appreciate and support Blindstone!!! Thank you SO much everybody! We are forever grateful for your support, and I hope we get to meet you all in person some day, somewhere! Take care, and KEEP THE ROCK ALIVE!
Thank you Martin and I hope we will see us at tour in the future in Germany. I wish you good luck for the future.
Thank you, Michael. Same to you!