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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said, Bleu's songs sounded fresh, not outdated; fit for adult-pop radio, not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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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