Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show host John Richards, is “To Leave America” by Erik Blood from his self-released album The Way We Live.
People often say Seattle is a small town and once you start getting into band genealogies you understand why. One name that has come up consistently while I’m doing my research for these posts is today’s artist, Erik Blood. He just might be the Kevin Bacon of Seattle. Blood expends his creative energies both as a musician (The Turn-On’s, The Little Penguins, Mountain Con) and as a producer (The Moondoggies, Altspeak, The Lights, Romance, Tea Cozies, and many more). The Way We Live is Blood’s first solo effort and the initial response to its digital only (for now) release has been very positive. Its blend of melodic shoegazey pop draws easy comparisons to the influences Blood talked about in a recent article in The Stranger, which include My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus & Mary Chain, and the Cocteau Twins, but Blood’s music has added cinematic elements which take it beyond mere reproduction. I recommend checking today’s song out with headphones on, preferably whilst reclining, allowing your mind follow Blood’s daydream inducing lyrics.
Speaking of reclining, Mr. Blood took some time during his much needed vacation in Hawaii to answer a few questions few questions for KEXP listeners. Try not to hate him for being on the beach with drink in hand while doing so.
How did you get into producing?
I used to record stuff at home as a kid on my mom’s stereo, then I had a cool tape machine that I could record stuff over existing stuff, which I would do over and over and over again until I had a very fuzzy song. Then I got a Fostex 4-track recorder and a sampler that I made beats on, followed by pop song demos once I got a guitar. Then an 8-track (which I sold to Craig from The Lights a few years ago and I believe he recorded the Le Sang Song album on it.) Then, while attending the Art Institute of Seattle for Audio Production, I met a few guys from Missoula who had a band called The Elements and I produced a bunch of stuff for them which became Mountain Con. I think that’s the first actual “producing” I ever did that wasn’t for my own ears.
Does your work as a producer affect how you write music?
While working with bands, I realized that not everyone hears a complete song in their head, all finished with all embellishments, when they write. So yes, I think that has something to do with the fact that I’m a producer.
Do you enjoy being on one side or the other?
Either way, I’m making music, so both are great when the finished product is good. The more of myself that I put into projects I work on, the more I write, so it’s almost the same thing, except I have other people to please (which I like doing, I must say.)
How did you decide to do The Way We Live as a solo project? Is there something about these songs that made you want to release them on a solo album rather than through one of groups you play with?
I had to make music the way I heard it. I didn’t want to have to fit my songs into anyone else’s idea of what stuff should sound like. For example, “Home & Walk” and “Broken Glass” were both songs written for The Turn-Ons and both of them didn’t make the cut. I couldn’t throw them away, though.
You do a lot of work (as a producer and a musician) with a pretty steady cast of characters, a list of usual suspects if you may, that often includes Will Hallauer (Little Penguins, Altspeak, The Turn-Ons, etc), Jerry Peerson (Little Penguins, Coulter, etc.), Coulter Leslie (Altspeak, etc.) to name a few. Do you seek out opportunities to work with your friends or does that just happen pretty naturally?
I think it just happens naturally, mostly because my friends make some pretty amazing music. That’s also the reason I stole them away to be in my live band (twisting my mustache and sneering under a top hat.) I do, however, seek out opportunities to work with bands I love.
Also, can you tell me anything about today’s song-”To Leave America?” What’s the song about or influenced by?
It was written at the end of the Bush era, when shit was really scary here. I had a genuine fear for my future and was willing to take any chance to get the hell out. I’m not even sure the place I wanted to leave to even exists, but I knew that this country was becoming a place I couldn’t defend anymore. It’s hard when your government tells you that your love doesn’t matter and that in fact it makes you less than human. But fuck ‘em! We’ll outlast the opposition.
Indeed we will! And luckily we have this album to groove to until that day comes. You can catch Erik Blood at The Tractor Tavern on June 16th along with Julie Dorion (formerly of Eric’s Trip) and Dog Day. Check out his myspace or website for more info.