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eGigs Talks To Rogers Stevens

 

By Danielle Millea for eGigs (Sept 11, 2008)

 

 
Picture by Danielle Millea

Guitarist of Blind Melon, about the band reforming, new material and more on Thursday 11 September 2008.

Where does the name Blind Melon come from?
It actually came from a Cheech and Chong movie. Brad's dad used to say it to all his pot smoking friends, "What's Happening Blind Melon?"

What music has most influenced you?
I grew up in Mississippi, so a lot of country music, seventies music, AM pop radio, then I got into rock and roll and started playing the guitar when I was Fourteen. Also a lot of blues artists from Mississippi, even like Van Halen, when I was a teenager! I was way into the Stones and The Beatles and stuff like that. I don't why British bands came over the the States and did rock and roll better that the American rock bands. They came over and took roots music from America and turned it on its ear and did it better than the American bands


You're back after seven years (eleven since the loss of Shannon). What made you start it up again?
Well we met Travis, we weren't trying to get back together, it was the furthest thing from our minds. We were all living in different places; I've been living in New York for the past ten years and these guys were out in LA, and he just came along. We weren't looking for anyone else or holding auditions it just kinda happened and we went with it.

Your first show after rejoining was October 7, 2007 in Rhode Island. What was that like?
It was euphoric. All that pent up emotion we had felt onto for so long... My knees were weak literally before we walked on stage because it was heavy. The crowd was overwhelming, we were overwhelmed; it was beautiful. We sounded like shit, but we've gotten it together a little more since then! I haven't felt an emotional high like that for a long time.

How do you think the crowd were tonight?
It was a bit of a tough gig for us to do, with a few feedback problems and general sound of the room, sounds very brash, but whatever, we were having fun and they looked to be enjoying it. I had no idea what a London crowd would be like, I couldn't remember how they would respond. If you go to New York it's a tougher crowd than it is somewhere else in the States, so I assume that London is similar. There's a million great bands that play here all the time, so...

How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn't heard of Blind Melon?
We're sort of a hyped up blues band, rock and roll. Most of us grew up in the south or in rural areas. There's elements of it that are throw backs to the past, but we also heard AC/DC when we were kids and stuff.

Nico Hoon (Shannon's young daughter) has joined you on stage in the States, does she want to become a band member?
She wants to get on the bus and drive around! She's great, she looks just like him, it's heavy. She got on stage and sang, and this whole circle of life thing is going through your head and it was powerful, and life affirming in a way. She's cool, and she's doing really well.

How are Blind Melon fans reacting to your new album, 'For My Friends'?
They've reacted positively to it. We had no idea what people would think, or if they cared or how many people still listened to the band at all but the shows in the States have been great. We had no idea about Spain [they're previous show was at the Azkena Rock Festival] it was big there, and we never been there.

We saw a lot of people at the front singing along to the new tracks...
Yeah, it's been like that every night.
If this short European tour goes well do you think you will be back for more shows, particularly in the UK?
Yeah, we're gonna come back, maybe for a month in the Spring. We'll do all of the UK and the continent, everywhere.

How was the Azkena Rock Festival in Spain, at which you just played with The Lemonheads, the Sex Pistols and Dinosaur Jr?
It went really well. Evan Dando's a friend of mine, so I saw him, which is always fun. The Sex Pistols played an hour longer than they were supposed to. We couldn't go on until they had stopped, because we had opposing stages, so we were just sitting there watching them, and people had to drag them off. We did a tour with P.I.L. (Public Image Limited) and he [Rotten] was really great to us.

There are a lot of reformed bands on that bill, I for one welcome all the bands back, especially from my favourite musical era of the nineties. Why do you think a lot of bands are reappearing?
It's funny, we were probably one of the last bands that people though were gonna come back. I think a lot of bands have more of a calculated effort to do it, we really didn't; it just happened. Right after we did it I saw all these other bands do it and I was like "Fuck!" It was a super natural progression for us.

You worked with Andy Wallace (producer) on Soup, how was he to work with? Also is that him on the 'Soup' cover? Does he like alphabet soup?!
He's a great guy, he came to one of our shows recently. He does a lot of work, a lot of big work and we had the best time with him. That record ['Soup'] would never have gotten made if it wasn't for him, he was such a gentle authority figure with us. He was really calm, we were really fucked up at that time, I can't believe he got it done. He's a sweet guy.

What was the problem with the first release of the Live at the Palace CD?
That was one of those things that the record company did, and then we got mad about it. They messed up all the track listings, just stupid shit. It was like they actually didn't even listen to it; they screwed up the track list. We made them pull it off the shelves and redo it. I was amazed they did that! We kinda though they were gonna screw us, but they did it and finally got it right. I just can't stand that. We're not on a major label anymore, thank god. It's been a lot better for us. Capitol was great to us back in the day, the president of the label was a great guy to us, but he left before the Soup record and our relationship fucked up at that point. I can't complain about our initial experience, but different people came in, it wasn't their baby, so they move onto other stuff.

Your live setlists have a good mixture of new and old songs, how are the crowd reacting to Travis singing 'No Rain' etc?
They've been great. I think he was nervous and we were nervous in the beginning. I was ready to throw beer bottles back! It's been really great, it's worked out well for us.

He seems really natural on stage.
That's why were here, otherwise we wouldn't be doing this. He's for real, that's what going the band going again.

Travis was in a band called Rain For Rent previously.
Rain Fur Rent had broken up for about a year.

From his sound he's obviously a fan of Blind Melon.
He grew up listening to us. Shannon was one of his favourite singers. That's part of the reason we met him. Somebody from the record company brought him to Brad and Christopher who were producing records in LA and he was into Blind Melon and so the guy thought he might want to work with them. They started working on Travis' solo record and it turned into "lets call the rest of the guys and do this". He's his own cat, he's wrote over 200 songs and a few on the new record.

What did you think to Weird Al Yankovic using original 'Bee Girl' Heather DeLoach in his video for 'Bedrock Anthem'?
I never saw it. Weird Al, more power to him. Lampooning the powerful! I don't think he's funny, but good for him.

Has Jena Kraus ever joined you on stage for 'Mouthful Of Cavities'?
Yeah, she did in New York. I've been in contact with her, as we both live there and catch up now and again.

She just kept followed you around the gigs and saying "I can can sing..."
Yeah, I thought, hey I'm gonna sleep with this girl, she never stops following us around! She ended up on the record.

Are there more albums in the pipeline, or are you still working on side projects as well (Extra Virgin, The Tender Trio).
Nah, this is it. We have some more songs that we have done all ready but we'll probably go in and do a whole new record next year. I mean I know we will; that is the plan. The plan is to write the record early neat year, go out do some more touring in the Spring, come back over here, do festivals in the Summer and record in the fall.

You need to do Glastonbury...
Yeah, we did that before, I'd love that, it was huge, we'd love to. They need to get us...

Danielle Millea for eGigs.

 

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