As you may know by now, I like to feature bands whose music can be found on our favorite format: vinyl. Today's post brings an extra special treat, as I ask Pat Kearns; recording studio owner, fellow vinyl junkie and lead of local band Blue Skies For Black Hearts a few questions about their sound, songwriting process, and the almighty question: why vinyl?
To give you just a small taste of some of their multi-faceted sounds, here's the video for 'Siouxsie Please Come Home', a decidedly Beatles-esque tune and one of my faves. Be sure to check out the Latest link on their website, to see where the band is playing next.
How did the band originally come together?
It started out as a recording project...it was a way for me to hear the songs that I was writing. I didn't have a band at the time but I was working at my studio and other studios. So I would carry my half inch analog tape deck around with me and work on my own tunes before and after the session I was scheduled for. I was often able to get the people from the band I was recording that day to stay around after their session and put their own part on the recording. Eventually, a CD came out of this. I had to put a band together in order to promote the release of that CD. It kept rolling from there.
What is your songwriting process?
I collect ideas for songs all the time: lyrics, melodies, riffs.. You could say I keep a "drawer" for them. That's one process that is happening continually. I often pull from the drawer when I need an idea. But most of the songs sort of seem to form out of thin air. I don't know where they come from. I don't question it either. The basic story of the song, the melody and rhythm usually all arrive at the same time for me. I'll make a demo on my phone or in Garageband. I'll use the demo sometimes to show the guys the song. Sometimes, I'll just play it during rehearsal and we work up an arrangement from there.
Of course, WE know why, but tell the people: why vinyl?
Vinyl is awesome. It's a real physical way of experiencing a recording. It's hands on. You have to drop the needle. You have to turn it over. It's what I listen to most of the time at home. I love the ease of digital and it's versatility too. I have an iPod and a digital music library. But there's nothing like a record. It has a certain mystery to it. And the pictures are bigger too.
What do your newest members bring to the table, and how do you think they will enhance/alter/better your sound?
I don't know if it will be better. But I'm not really interested in making a judgement call like that. I do like it better because it's different than what we have been doing for the last few years and it was feeling like we were reaching our limitations as a four piece. Now we have keyboards on every song when we play live. And with the lead guitar, it's nice having two lead instruments sharing the space. They can play off of each other. I think that the next Blue Skies' record will be better than any of the previous ones, but I think that has more to do with the songs, than who is in the band. But the new guys, Grant and Mark, do give us more opportunities for new textures and feels.
What are the band's plans/goals for the immediate future?
We play Paul Collins' Power Popalicious II festival in Asbury Park this November 17. We also play a few other dates in New England in November. We're currently prepping the band for the next record which we're planning to start before the year ends.
Many of your influences are easily recognized by the band's music. Do any of the members favor any specific artist(s) that we may be unfamiliar with?
The rhythm section loves Zappa, which I think is super cool. Mark and I bring a love for bands like The Replacements and Deer Tick to the table...I don't think that's very recognizable in Blue Skies tunes. I also love the Black Lips. If you want to get obscure, we could do a lot of that. Our drummer, Jason, and I recently went way deep into the 1960's Cuban doo-wop group, Los Zafiros. Mike has turned me onto a lot of French music. He has also introduced me to Jerry Joseph's songs. I collect rare bubblegum and Phil Spector 45's too...We could go on for a long time like this. Everyone in the group has a serious love for music and they all have diverse tastes.
Anything you'd like to add?
Check out our website for concert dates and a bunch of other fun stuff. The video section is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon on the boss's dime. BlueSkiesForBlackHearts.com