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Interview With Bleu
Rocking the USA!



 
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.....Bleu burst on the Boston music scene in December 1999 with his debut album, A Bing Bang Holidang, a seasonal charity record benefiting the Boston Institute for Arts Therapy. Featuring special guest appearances from local friends and musicians--including Dicky Barrett (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones), Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo), Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner (Guster), Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom), Jason Kendall (The Amazing Crowns), and Dave Farrell (Rubyhorse), A Bing Bang Holidang spent that holiday season comfortably situated in the Newbury Comics Top 60 while finding itself added into active rotation on many local commercial radio stations. As 1999 came to a close, A Bing Bang Holidang was one of the northeastern seaboard's largest selling independently released albums of the year. Bleu sings songs in olden, tuneful styles but with new sensibilities. His songs rekindle thoughts of George Harrison's naked pop-rock of the 1970s, of E.L.O.'s booming choruses, and of Queen's dramatic pauses and harmonies. His "Do It All Again" would have fit right in the mouth of no less than the late Roy Orbison. That said, Bleu's songs sounded fresh, not outdated; fit for adult-pop radio, not classic-rock prime time. And few singers hit so many notes with the all-out courage that Bleu breathed into the heartbroken waltz of "You Know, I Know, You Know." The song is my favorite pop slice of 2003 so far. A versatile and charismatic performer, Bleu might appear fronting his full-on rock band or as a solo artist with his electro-acoustic conceptual "e-band," which has been described by the Boston Globe as "a spare, affecting solo performance where Bleu's voice and guitar are accompanied by a miniature cadre of samples, loops, and effects." Bleu has opened shows for Train, Five For Fighting, John Mayer, Ben Folds, Bon Jovi, Midnight Oil, Duncan Sheik, Howie Day, Ours, Jump Little Children, Chris Whitley, Will Hoge, Ric Ocasek, and others. In addition to his "Spider-Man" track, Bleu's music is in demand in the worlds of both television and indie film. His track "The Waiter" can be heard in "Lovely & Amazing," the hot new indie comedy from director Nicole Holofcener ("Walking & Talking") while four of Bleu's songs have been used on MTV's "Real World" and "Road Rules."

 

Q: So where are today?
A: Bleu: San Diego right now. I'm actually going to do some cooking on a new TV show. It should be pretty fun. I'm actually looking forward to it. It's a weird show. Fox has a new network coming out. It's like Fox Extreme Network and they have this show where they pair musicians with people. It should be fun. I'm actually cooking for a bunch of surfers and skaters, so I can't imagine a more Californian type experience.
Q: Great. So besides a Musician you're a Chef too?
A: I like to cook, it's like my hobby.
Q: What's your specialty?
A: I don't know. I make a lot of sort pan-Asian type of thing. That is what I like to do the most, but I really just do it as a hobby, so it's fun to experiment with all kind of different stuff - new recipes.
Q: Good going . Hey, I was listening to your new CD "Redhead." cool name!
A: I just thought the redheads needed their due.
Q: Good tunes. I didn't get a chance to listen to any of your previous albums; you had a song called Headroom?
A: Yeah. That was my last record. My first record was actually a Christmas record, which was fun - goofy - but fun.
Q: It looks like you're pretty popular in Boston. Is that where you're located?
A: Yeah. I live in Boston. Actually right outside of Boston - Brighten, which is kind of first tier suburb. A bunch of us in the band all live there. It's great. I love Boston actually. I don't miss it right now.
Q: Is it Snow today?
A: Is it about as bad as it had ever been since I've been there. When I left, it got even worse. So, it was thank God we're out here in San Diego.
Q: San Diego is always awesome.
A: I've actually never been there, so I'm kind of looking forward to seeing the area.
Q: It's really resorty. Palm trees and the whole. works. Up here in San Francisco, we have the fog today. But the air is nice and cool.
A: Cool, I'm looking forward to coming up there too. I love San Francisco.
Q: There's always something to do out here.
A: I've only played out here one time, but it was an awesome experience. I played at Bimbo's, which is a doubt the nicest club I've ever been to in my life. The way they treated us and treated me was nice, but the club itself was just mind boggling. I was totally in awe.
Q: That is a very nice and famous club. That's Chris Isaak's club.
A: Really. Cool.
Q: You've been at this since '99? Is that when you got started? A: I guess it depends upon how you look at it. I've been sort of playing out like sort of semi-professionally really since '96. I have another band in Boston for about a year and a half, so it's really more of a collaborative type of thing. Not that the current band isn't. So that whole thing kind of fell apart, and then I sort of regrouped and made my own album and ended up making that goofy Christmas album which sort of got some good press and interesting reviews and developed a little base of fans that way. So, yeah, '99 was my first release.
Q: All those guys on that album, did you collaborate with them personally, or did they add their tracks on later for the 12 Days of Christmas?
A: Yeah. Dicky Barrett, actually I did his vocals at his house, but everybody else who participated on that tract, actually came in and did their vocals in one day in the studio. So, it was a super cool experience. The only thing I regret is that we didn't have videotape of the whole thing. We took good pictures of the whole experience, but I think as long as I live, no matter what I do, that will always be one of the greatest musical days that I've ever had to get to produce all these great Boston artists and do this cool thing for charity and see everybody kind of get together and have fun and come together. It was like a music community. It was pretty awesome.
Q: It's a great group of guys here. In fact I have been following Ruby Horse's career - David Farrell? A: Yeah. He's a great guy. Those guys are all a bunch of wacky Irish guys. They have fun times.
Q: When I interviewed them they still had thier strong Irish brogue. A: Oh for sure, they're all right off the boat as they say.
Q: Now you wrote a track for Spider Man?
A: Yeah. That was a great opportunity. It was great to be associated with that movie.
Q: What's this MTV Real World. Did they have some songs from you that they played in the background?
A: Yeah. I don't think it's that's that notable of a thing necessarily. I don't think the best music on MTV is playing on the background. I think it's true actually. I know a lot of people who have had songs on both of those shows and other MTV shows. They use a lot of entry bands for their background music on all those shows. They happened to use a lot of mine; they used six of my songs on those two shows. I don't hardly watch them, so I actually. like the very first time they used one of my tunes, I tuned in and checked it out and it was semi-exciting and I'm definitely not a fan of those programs. It was interesting. I don't think anybody really notices, you know what I'm saying. It was still cool.
Q: When I went on your website, there was a song called Terrible Secret. Was that a single?
A: No that was a track off of my album, Header - my Indy album. Yeah. Kind of a band favorite.
Q: It also said these kids in France had a contest going on with it?
A: Oh you're checking out the web site. No, one of our fans is English as a second language teacher, and she played that song for her students and asked them to write essays on what they thought the Terrible Secret was. So, we posted those on the web site.
Q: I thought that was interesting that you were hitting the European market.
A: Actually, it was kids from all around the world. It's actually pretty interesting to reading their responses. Some of them are definitely ethno centric and you can kind of tell by reading some of them. You can kind of guess where the person was from. There were definitely some funny misuse of the English language on those essays.
Q: I like your CD - you're just straight up rock and roll. I really appreciate really good music like that. Did anyone ever say you sound a little bit John Lennonish? A: Yeah. I hear all kind of things. I think everybody wants to say that you sound like somebody or other. I think the most common things that I hear are Queen. I hear that all the time. And I hear Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick, Big Star, a lot of those power pop bands most often. Though I have certainly gotten a lot of John Lennon comments hear and there. Especially I think when people see the live shows, because they see big sideburns, and they sort of had big sideburns at one point in his life. So, maybe in way I could look like him from stage, so people sort of make that association. The one thing I am always psyched about is that nobody ever says that I sound like a band or an artist that I don't like. So, nobody ever says you kind of remind me of Creed, or whatever. So, I don't mind the comparisons.
Q: . Was there any particular song on here that the radio grabbed?
A: The record isn't out in stores yet, so the release isn't until May. But, I suppose at that time, they'll start working towards that. That's sort of grass roots type of approach with all their artists, so I think they sort of have something in mind. There's actually going to be a couple of songs added to the record when it's in stores in May and I think they may have one of those songs in mind, but they sort of also going to play it by ear and see if anything pops it's head up before then.
Q: Are they talking video?
A: Who knows. Maybe.
Q: It's pretty standard thing to a lot of music nowadays.
A: It's still a ways away. There's certainly no talk of that yet. But that's something I'd love to do at some point. We actually put together a little amateur video for Hollywood and I think we're going to have that on the website at some point. We'll probably give that to some of the independent video shows and that kind of thing.
Q: Did you write some songs for an independent movie?
A: I had a song in Lovely and Amazing which was a great movie. Nicole Holofcener, she also did Walking and Talking, which was also another great movie. But Lovely and Amazing actually did very well. It got amazing reviews, won some fantastic awards. It did pretty well. But it was really great to be associated with it because I actually thought it was quite a good movie and it was cool the scene that they had the song in. It was sort of used in a really cool way and I thought that was pretty exciting to be able to go to the theater and see that, it was definitely a lot of fun. That movie had Dermot Melroney and Catherine Keener and Emily Mortimer and who's that kid from Donnie Darko. There's Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer and Brenda Blethyn, she actually won an Oscar for best supporting actress a while back. It's good. It's a good movie man. I definitely would suggest it. I just got it on DVD a couple of days ago. The video stores are offering it. So, I can rewind my little part over and over again. I love being associated with movies.
Q: That's a great starting ground for a lot of movies. People hear the song in the background and say who did it and wait around for the credits in the back.
A: Especially a thing like Spider Man, big Hollywood movies like that, they push the shit out of a soundtrack. A great way to get exposed.
Q: So what's you instrument of choice?
A: Oh no I play electric guitar, keyboards. I actually played all kinds of stuff on the record. I played drums on one track. I played a lot of keyboard. I played electric guitar on all the tracks, all the acoustic guitars and some other weird unknown instruments as well on a lot of the stuff. I played electric guitar when I played with the band. When I do solo shows I play acoustic guitar.
Q: Have you done the radio shows yet?
A: I've done a few in Boston, but like I said, we won't do a lot until the record comes out. I imagine I'll being a lot more of that once that happens.
Q: Almost once a day, there are two radio stations - one's called Alice 97.3 and one called KFOG. They would really like your music.
A: Yeah. I keep hearing great things about KFOG. My manager's from the area and he reminisces about that station. He always listens to it when he's in the area and stuff like that. So, I think it's one of the last stations that still takes a risk from what I understand.
Q: You're going to be in Anaheim on the 4th?Where have you toured before?
A: Actually we've done quite a bit of touring. The longest tour we've done so far was a month and we went out and did Pufi Ami-Yumi's First National Tour (sp?). They're one of the biggest acts in Japan and I actually love them. They're an amazing pop group. It was great. Sold out shows every night all across the U.S. and two shows in Canada and you know it was all Japan people - 80% to 90% Japanese people at all the shows. So, it was an interesting crowd to play, but they were very receptive to our music and really cool people and we sort of developed a nice camaraderie definitely with the folks in Pufi Ami-Yumi. Actually Yumi is going to be here on the 1st. She's coming to sort of soak up the English language and American culture and I'm looking forward to seeing her in a couple of days here.
Q: That's what I like when I interview the musicians. They can turn me on to people I don't know. There's just so much going on out there.
A: Oh sure. They're a lot of great Japanese pop out there if you don't mind the language barrier.
Q: So you're writing songs all the time?.
A: I like to write and I like to have fun. Recording in the studio is probably my favorite thing to do. I love performing live as well, but I get unbelievably jazzed in the studio and so it really was a situation where I had a producer who didn't need a lot of planning to make things happen and he was really willing to sort of take risks and do things on the fly, so if I had a new song he would be just like - let's do it. So we ended up recording just oodles and oodles of material that didn't make the record and even outside the realm of doing stuff for the record, I've recorded material just for fun and some of that turned out good enough so that we could've put some of that on the record and ended up not doing that, but I'm hoping even some of that stuff will come out as a B side of the track with just some other power poppers out there. So, it's disappointing in a way because you wish you could I could get them all out there. But it is nice to have an embarrassment of riches as it were. It's nice to have a lot of stuff to choose from as opposed to not enough.
Thank you keep on Rocking

By Randy Cohen

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