t surprises me that power pop hasn't seen much of a resurgence in an age where pop music is bigger than ever. I've always been a sucker for a three minute song with melodies executed with a full throttle, rock and roll approach and some punchy guitar riffs. It's an approach that you don't hear all at often on today's pop radio but the LA-based band BLAME BABY aren't concerning themselves with that. This new power trio is more interested in creating a pure pop rock moment which kind of explains their penchant for releasing singles as opposed to EPs or LPs. Late last year they released their debut single HEADCASE a surf rock anthem about self-realization and loss of identity. The subject matter is a little heavy for something wrapped in the in such delectable power pop. Now, the trio comprised of lead singer and guitarist JESSE JOHNSON, bassist OMAR D. BRANCATO and MATT TUCCI on drums, have released their newest single, THE FLOOR, another energetic burst of pop rock which is all about sweet surrender and keeping the dream simple - another sentiment you don't hear in a lot of what pop radio has to offer these days. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with front man JESS JOHNSON regarding the BLAME BABY and their new single. Here is how the interview went.
You guys have just released the new single THE FLOOR and you've got a fine lyric video to accompany the release. How do you guys feels about the new song?
I feel like the finished work captures the essence of fun that we try to put out there while taking a serious look at things like existential angst which has universal themes and I feel that the song is really translating to people. I think people are really picking up on that. I've had a couple of friends reach out and comment on how the song resonates with them and our fans seem to be engaging with it well.
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The song showcases something that we haven't heard coming out of pop music in a very long time - guitars!!!
Yeah. We love guitars. We love music. We like the essence of a simple three piece rock band and trying to do everything with energy and instruments that we can play.
The single is a follow up to your previous single HEADCASE. It looks to me like you guys are taking the singles route in terms of releasing material, or is there an album in the works?
We are taking the single route because we realize how quickly music is moving right now. We want to be nimble and be able to release new music and keep putting out content. We're not rough shot. We try to be pretty clean and polished but we also try not to be too precious so we're just going to try to keep putting singles out there and making it happen. It will culminate into either an EP or an album depending on release date schedules and further recording opportunities.
Talk about the beginning of this band what got all three of you on board to want to form the band and take it this far?
Outside of BLAME BABY I also have a career as an actor. Our bass player OMAR also has a career as an actor. We met on a project about the life of ROGER MILLER who was a super famous folk singer. Right before the British Invasion he was on everybody's television set on primetime. He even had his own television show. He was that guy. His widow wrote a play as a musical and we got hired as actors to do that. MATT TUCCI, our drummer is a drummer for hire and he was working on that project as well. We all met on that show and I was assessing the situation and seeing how we all got along and whether or not this thing would be a good match so we started jamming together after the show closed and that was how BLAME BABY got started.
CHECK OUT THE LYRiC ViDEO FOR THE FLOOR!!!
And talk about your two bandmate OMAR and MATT. Who are they and what is it that you think each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work?
Oh man! First of all just being great dudes and being pros. That is the best thing about it. Everybody is a professional. We're all from completely different parts of the country. TUCCI is from New York, OMAR is from Chicago and I was born in Los Angeles but raised in Colorado but I have a lot of ties to California. I spent a lot of time here growing up. I like to say that we're from the three major epicenters of culture in the United States. TUCCI brings that East Coast flavor with his hip hop vibe and his penchant for guerilla marketing and his left foot forward internet savvy with regard to promoting this thing. He also has a real broad influence as far as drummers go. He's able to inflect a lot of different styles into our music while holding it down and keeping it really passionate and tight and energetic. OMAR is definitely the most musically knowledgeable out of all of us by an order of magnitude. I'd say that OMAR has a history. He has also been a music director and he scores films. He's the real deal when it comes to being a musician. He wears the hat of music director and he takes little ideas that we form in rehearsals or voice note nothings that I put down in my spare time and he helps us to structure and shape these things into real songs. I think the thing that really sets us apart is the three uniquely different points of view that converge in a unifying sense. It informs the sound that we make as a band - this passionate, energetic, fun rock music. All roads kind of converge to that one spot.
Oh! I just want to say for the record that OMAR thought that I was saying a eulogy for his funeral. So if I can get a transcript of that for when I kill him.
It'll be available when the interview goes up.
Everybody's professionalism is amazing. OMAR brought printed lead sheets to one of our sessions and I can guarantee you that that was the first time the engineer or the producer had ever seen that.
And you've mentioned being an actor but what was your musical experience prior to being in this band?
Yeah I had a couple of bands. I had a band in high school that obviously broke up after we all went our separate ways for college and then I had a college band which was basically tainted by a lot of heavy, heavy alcohol abuse for most of that band's tenure. I've had several musical projects that just never really clicked. I played out around in Los Angeles in a band called SLANDER and I was in a band called ONE OWL and then I started writing and submitted some songs to a couple of movies I had done myself and then dorking around with some friends in the home studio still writing songs but wondering where it was all going to go. I had this band called CANVASES that I started with this guy who used to be in this band called FIVE O'CLOCK HEROES. That was as close as we got and then he decided that he wanted to be a director and so we just decided to end the band. We still have a pretty good friendship but the whole thing kind of fell apart because it didn't really take off as quickly as we wanted it to.
Describe the songwriting process within this band. How do you guys go about it?
It comes through in a couple of different ways. It's either stuff that I've had lying around and I'll present to the band and ask them what they think of it. Sometimes we'll start each rehearsal with a jam and there will be little ideas that stem out of that and a few of those become songs. We are very much music first and arrangement first and I'll be sitting there writing and re-writing lyrics and asking for input on lyrical approaches and we'll have an idea for a theme and in what direction we want to take the song in. We all collaborate and we all pretty much write together. There are no bad ideas. There are just more effective ones. That is my view when it comes to writing in a collaborative way. It's a free and easy space where everyone can contribute.
What is the big of BLAME BABY's music? What you you like for a listener to come away with after they hear the music?
I think the big idea of BLAME BABY's music is to evoke something that feels familiar and cozy yet has a fresh shine on it. Rock music that evokes a time when things were a little simpler and more straightforward. We're not opposed to pushing our sound further. We've got synths on the song HEADCASE. We incorporate the modern stuff while keeping the bedrock of it very much in the classic power three piece approach.
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