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."
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.
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?
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?
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
Q. Would you count the Woodstock '94 performance among those?
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.
...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, but you also want someone who'll make the songs their