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The Return Of Blind Melon

By Blair R. Fisher for the Mundelein Review (July 24, 2008)

 


The rebirth of Blind Melon, a band devastated by the death or its lead singer Shannon Hoon, began when guitarist Christopher Thorn and bassist Brad Smith made an out-of-the-blue phone call to fellow axeman Rogers Stevens and drummer Glen Graham. "I know this sounds crazy," Thorn told them. "I know this sounds like Spinal Tap. We found a singer and we swear he could be the new singer for Blind Melon."

There had been no exhaustive search for the new frontman for Blind Melon at the time. After all, it had been more than a decade since Hoon died of drug overdose one month shy of his 28th birthday.


"To go to sleep one night from Houston to New Orleans and know that (Shannon) was gonna stay up and do blow all night, that wasn't that unusual," Thorn said. "It was unusual that he died, because I'd seen him do ten times the amount of cocaine he did that night."

For the next decade, the surviving members of Blind Melon did what they could to cope with the loss of Hoon and a promising career that brought the world the modern rock staple "No Rain." Thorn and Smith formed Unified Theory, but that lasted only an album.

The successful release of several Blind Melon retrospectives, and a recommendation from a friend at Atlantic Records that they check out a young singer named Travis Warren changed everything. Not only is Warren's vocal style a doppelganger for Shannon's, but he's been an easy fit with the other members. Plus, he's a fan and knows the history of the band..

"It feels good to be able to talk to him about Shannon and not have him feel freaked out," Thorn added. Blind Melon's appearance at Austin's Fuel Room is in support of their first new album in 13 years, titled "For My Friends."

We talked to Thorn about the resuscitation of Blind Melon.

Q. There's a long history of bands that have replaced their departed lead singer and then failed.

A. That's what scared us the most. We know this sounds like bad idea on paper. We get it. I would be skeptical as well if I read my favorite band had a new lead singer. But, for us, we're the biggest critics of our own career. We were not about to do this if it felt like we were doing the wrong thing or disrespecting Shannon. Can you imagine if AC/DC didn't' continue and didn't find Brian [Johnson] and it ended with Bon [Scott]? What a bummer. I still listen to those records. For us that's the role model. That's the bar.

Q. Are there Blind Melon songs now that are too difficult to play?

A. No. I think some of songs remind me more of [Shannon] than other songs, but I don't know. I would never say I'm over it. That whole thing about time heals wounds...I don't know who came up with that, but obviously they didn't have someone die in their life. I'm never over it. I think about it all the time. It hasn't gotten easier but I think you learn to deal with it.

Q. How is a Blind Melon show different today than it was 15 years ago?

A. Well, the first thing is we don't get loaded, so the shows are way better. We used to hit the bong before we'd go on, or drink. When I heard some bootlegs from '93 or '94 or '95, we were a really inconsistent band. We were electric and it was fun to watch. Sometimes it was an absolute train wreck. We had a lot of amazing moments, but a lot of those amazing moments were followed by some shows that weren't so good.

Q. Would you count the Woodstock '94 performance among those?

A. No, I wouldn't. I don't know why everyone hated our Woodstock performance. I thought that was great. Obviously Shannon was on LSD, so that wasn't a day that was as clear as it should have been, but I thought he did a fantastic job. For some reason the critics turned against us that day and said it was a bad performance. But I don't know, I was there...Stoned or not stoned, he was an incredible performer that day.

Q. There's no denying Travis sounds a lot like Shannon, on some songs more than others. I assume that was intentional.

A. ...When we met Travis, we realized that he sang in the register. Not a lot of singers sing in the upper register. You don't want to mimic. You want someone who sounds close enough that we don't sound like a totally different band, b
ut you also want someone who'll make the songs their own. "

 

 

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