Blaine the Mono Chats About Their New Album
When we naively started this website a few years ago, one of our first reviews was Vices And Verses from local Orlando rockers Blaine The Mono. Since that time, we’ve grown up a bit, and as we see on their excellent new album Jellyfish, this quartet is maturing into one hell of a band.
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On a chilly Florida night, I recently had the chance to sit down with this affable and talented group at Rock & Brews in Oviedo. Huddled around an outdoor heater, we sipped a drink or two, talked about music and life and then took a deep dive into the new album.
Today, I’ll share the early conversation, and provide a deeper look into “Capsize,” the first single and first track from the album, and then follow it up with a deep song-by-song look into the entire album on the day it is released in Orlando, February 28th. It should be a cool accompaniment for you as you take your first tour through the seven new rocking tracks. Make sure you Like our Facebook page so you don’t miss a thing.
We started out talking about the songwriting on the album. As it turns out, and as you’ll read in our track-by-track immersion, this is a true collaborative effort. Many of the songs start off with a riff from guitarist Eric Joseph. From there, they go through an evolution as all of the band members provide their input, before vocalist Randi Stickles polishes it off by penning the typically provocative lyrics, leaving all of the band members sharing songwriting credit.
We chatted for about an hour, and these four are all passionate about the excellent music that they’ve created, and it was nice to see the way they interacted. They like each other and truly seem to enjoy their time working together.
Cretin: So, we’re sitting here at Rock & Brews, where the walls are plastered with images of larger-than-life legendary rockers. Were any of these artists influences for you?
Eric Joseph – Guitar: Zeppelin, Stones and The Beatles, I really came up on The Beatles. I liked the 60s and 70s, and a lot of 50s stuff and the 90s obviously. But, I kind of skipped a lot of stuff in the 80’s, the New Wave rock.
Clifton Garner – Drums: Doors, Hendrix. For the 80’s, I only really liked the Cars, and somebody bought me a Warrant album once.
Randi Stickles – Vocals: (smiling) I really liked the Scooby Doo soundtrack in the 80’s. My dad listened to the Box Tops and stuff like that, but nothing that really stuck out; I listen to a lot of Nirvana and The Distillers.
Joseph: The Used, Deftones, The Yeah, Yeah Yeahs.
Stickles: Royal Blood is a new one I listen to a lot.
Cretin: That was one of our Top 5 albums of the year last year. (See our list here)
Stickles: They’re awesome.
Joseph: That’s a major break out band. Truly awesome.
Garner: When we went to South By (Southwest), they were all over the place. I think they played eight or nine shows in five days, it was great. I’ve got to throw Primus in there, because Irv is one of the greatest drummers. Everybody just thinks of Les Claypool, but in order to play with a bassist of that caliber, you have to be the greatest drummer in the world.
Cretin: Chris, what about you?
Chris Culverwell – Bass: Classic stuff? I’m a big Pink Floyd guy, Doors, Zeppelin, Hendrix. I’m the only Floyd fan here.
Stickles: That’s weird shit. I feel you need to be high, I don’t know.
Culverwell: (unfazed) As far as newer stuff, I’m a big Tool and Radiohead fan.
Joseph: (as “Somebody To Love” plays in the background) I’d like to add Queen to my list
Garner: Yeah, yeah.
Cretin: You guys need to go on-line and look at my Top 25 albums ever, a lot of these bands are included. There’s no Primus on there, though.
Stickles: (sarcastically) best drummer in the world.
Cretin: So switching over to your new album, Jellyfish, do any of you have a favorite song from the album?
Garner: “Get Me Right”
Stickles: Me too, that’s what I end up listening to the most.
Joseph: I listen to “The Slip” the most.
Culverwell: Probably “Blue.”
Stickles: I think “Get Me Right” is one of the newest, and it’s got more of that sing-songy feel which is why I like it.
Cretin: Thinking about your creative process, what was the first song you created for the album?
Garner: I think “Tides” was the oldest, then “Blue.”
Stickles: I just remember playing “Blue” around the time we were recording Vices (and Verses, their last album).” We were like “why don’t we add this?”
Joseph: I remember when we were recording Vices playing a scratch track for “Blue.” Yeah, so the first song we recorded is the last song on the album.
Cretin: Which was the last one you worked on?
Garner: “Get Me Right,” we recorded it on this last tour in the van. That one’s fresh.
Culverwell: The last one we perfected, though, was “You’re A Ghost.”
Garner: Yeah, that’s probably actually the oldest song. You wrote that before we started recording Vices.
Cretin: Which was the first you recorded for the album?
Joseph: “Blue.” We actually recorded them in alphabetical order, because that’s the way the engineer had created the session…
So, let’s begin our song-by-song voyage with “Capsize” (OK – I’ll stop the corny sea references)
Cretin: Why did you choose this one as the first track on the album?
Stickles: Crowd response. The best crowd response for our songs.
Joseph: We wrote it before we went on tour, and it wasn’t on that album we were touring for. In all of the cities we went to we got a really good crowd response. I think we all felt it was more upbeat – kind of dancy, punky, high energy. And, it just seemed to have that nice strong chorus. I was into a lot of Arctic Monkeys at the time and I thought I’d write an Arctic Monkeys song that’s not an Arctic Monkeys song. (We drifted off on a brief tangent about the Arctic Monkeys. I won’t cover the dialogue here, but it’s safe to say the band members are big fans)
Cretin: The opening guitar on this one does not sound like the Blaine The Mono I heard on the first album. What was the inspiration for that?
Joseph: Just something different. Going and performing at South By Southwest really opened my eyes. A lot of the riffs I wrote for Vices, I wrote before I even met Randi. It was a lot of music that Cliff, Chris and I had and then she filled in a lot of stuff and I really wanted to do some music that I felt was more the four of us at the time. That’s how the whole albums is. I just think this is what we actually sound like as a foursome.
Culverwell: Your songwriting changed a lot. He played in an old band before called Atrophy and everything had that grunge vibe to it, and it’s less of that now.
Garner: It’s more Alt now, and less grunge. I think there’s still plenty of metal influences, though.
Stickles: Especially in the breakdowns.
Cretin: I also thought it was a really good drum song.
Joseph: Oh, yeah, it totally is. Love the drums. Absolutely.
Garner: When he wrote that riff, the first thing I heard was Arctic Monkeys and I wanted to make sure we had a really dancy song that you hear that hear that opening and you immediately want to have fun with it.
Cretin: What about the lyrics? They actually confused me a bit.
Garner: She’ll do that.
Stickles: It’s kind of a one night stand perspective and then somebody taking it further than a one night stand and just becoming ridiculously obsessed with you and you have no idea why.
Joseph: I hate when that happens,
Garner: (chuckling) It happens all the time, right?
Stickles: It happens all the time. Something’s got me locked inside your head and you keep that person a secret because you don’t want other people to know how obsessed they are. It’s embarrassing.
Cretin: Do you want to reveal the person?
Stickles: No, no, I’m good.
Well, that’s it for now – a little sample from our walkthrough of the Jellyfish album. Check back soon as we take a similar walk through every song on the new album on February 28th, the date it is released in Orlando.
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