Now, after a decade-plus hiatus, Blind Melon is back on
the road with new frontman Travis Warren, a Texas-based
singer-songwriter and longtime fan of the band's music. They'll
headline Feb. 29 at the Webster Theater in Hartford. And their new
studio album, "For My Friends," is due out April 22.
So were Thorn and his band mates looking for a near-replica of Hoon in their new singer?
us, it's like that X-feeling you feel," Thorn said in a Feb. 18
interview from Dover, Pa. "It's so hard to talk about it. It's so hard
to dissect it. But there's a feeling that you get when you have this
chemistry with people and you know that you can do great things
together. You know it would be better than you by yourself. Shannon had
this incredible charisma and he had all these incredible qualities. But
for us to say, 'Our new guy has to be exactly like this.'
You know what happened? We never found a person that made us feel like, 'OK, this feels great. We should do this.'
we stopped looking for 10 years," Thorn added. "And what people don't
understand is that this was not a premeditated idea. This was not
something where we sat around and said, 'OK, now it's time for us to
find a singer.' Never in a million years. We let that all go. We were
on our own paths."
For Thorn and bassist Brad Smith, that meant
running their own recording studio, Wishbone, in North Hollywood. They
produced albums for Anna Nalick, Cheyenne Kimball and others. In fact,
they originally began co-writing songs with Warren with a goal of
finding him a band and a record deal.
"At some point during that
process, he had that X-quality that's so hard to talk about and he
reminded me of Shannon in that sense," Thorn said. "He had that
charisma. He had that thing that makes you go, 'I'm gonna totally flip
my life upside down and be in a band with this guy because I have that
feeling I haven't had since Shannon died basically "" that feeling of,
wow, this could really be great.'"
Born Dec. 16, 1968, Thorn
grew up in the small town of Dover, Pa. His mother played guitar and
tambourine in the Sunday Night Merrysville Pickers, which got together
to jam and have fun. Thorn's father was in charge of disaster recovery
for the state of Pennsylvania.
With other influences including
Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, The Who and the Stones, Thorn dreamed of
becoming a professional musician "" even as he attended college for two
years to make his parents happy. In 1989, he quit school and moved with
his girlfriend and now wife, Heather, to Los Angeles.
Smith answered an advertisement Thorn placed in Music Connection
magazine. The pair went on to form Blind Melon with Hoon,
guitarist-pianist Rogers Stevens and drummer Glen Graham.
songs incessantly, Blind Melon penned "Seed To A Tree," "Dear Ol' Dad"
and "Soul One" early on. Still, it wasn't until the band "" especially
Hoon "" got away from the distractions of L.A. and lived together in a
house in Durham, N.C., that it truly became a cohesive unit, Thorn said.
was the most focused time that the band had ever had and it was the
best idea we ever had to go there because we wrote songs, we learned
how to play, we learned how to be together in a house," Thorn said. "We
learned how to live together, and that's really what you have to do
when you get in a van for a year or whatever. We learned a lot from
being around each other in that house. It was a great experience. I
look back on it and I get warm and fuzzy when I think about those days
because it was really fun. We were smoking pot and stuff like that, but
nothing had progressed to heavier drugs."
Working with Pearl Jam
producer Rick Parashar, Blind Melon recorded its eponymous debut, which
came out in 1992 and went quadruple platinum. With songs like "Soak The
Sin" and the Top 10 hit "Tones Of Home," the album was solid, but it
wasn't an overnight success story "" until the guys released the single
and video for the No. 1 hit "No Rain" featuring Heather DeLoach as the
Samuel Bayer, who also directed Nirvana's "Smells
Like Teen Spirit" video, came up with the idea of bringing the image of
Graham's sister from the album cover to life in the "No Rain" video.
it really worked out for us," Thorn said. "It was a great idea. I don't
think any of us realized that that image would become bigger than the
band at some point. It started to dwarf us. When she's doing 'Leno,'
talking about being the 'Bee Girl,' it was pretty crazy. It was
definitely a weird time, but it was exciting too. I'll never forget the
day we got the first cut of 'No Rain' and just really feeling like,
'Oh, wow, this is special. This looks great.' And at the time it looked
really different from all the stark grunge videos that were going on.
It was the opposite of that."
In 1995, after touring heavily and
opening for Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N' Roses and Soundgarden, Blind Melon
released "Soup," a different-sounding album that included the Top 10
"We were going through some heavy stuff, Shannon
was going through some heavy stuff, there were some really, really dark
times that came with the success and the drug intake got out of control
and that changed a lot for us," said Thorn, adding that Hoon was a
great friend and songwriter, who, though intense, was always the first
to apologize for his mistakes. "That record was a really, really
different record, but I can't say it was by design. It was just who we
were at that time."
Following Hoon's 1995 death, the band
released a rarities collection called "Nico" in '96. The remaining
members pursued their own avenues musically until 2006, when they
reformed with Warren on lead vocals. They played their first show in 12
years in 2007.
The title of the band's forthcoming "For My Friends" LP has to do with Blind Melon's diehard fans.
is sort of a nod to all of the people that have been there and followed
our career even while we weren't making records you know, the sort
of 12-year hiatus, so to speak, that we've had," said Thorn, whose son,
Devlin, is 2 years old.
"We never would have (reunited) if we
didn't feel like, 'Wow, we have stuff we have to finish,'" Thorn
added. "Blind Melon just ended one day. There were a lot of unsaid
songs and things we didn't get a chance to do. We let that go. And when
we met Travis, we felt like, 'We have to do this. This is something we
have to do.'"