We were fortunate enough to catch up with musician Blunt Blade following the superb release of the excellent self-titled album, ‘Blunt Blade’. Read the full interview now!
Hi Blunt Blade, tell us about yourself?
Hi, and thanks for this tremendous opportunity. I consider myself just a regular guy who has an insatiable appetite to lap up as much music as I can. This has been a part of me ever since I can remember.
I started singing very young, playing the piano by age 7, guitar by 15, bass and drums by 16. I then went to college on a guitar and vocal scholarship.
Beyond the formal training, I’m consuming music almost every moment of my day via one method or another. I’ll move between genres like I’m flipping the pages of an amazing novel filled with emotion and eager anticipation as I make my way through.
I deeply feel the joy, sadness, despair, anger, compassion, caring, and love that the writers convey.
What is your songwriting process?
I typically begin with the main hook and the accompanying chord changes. I’ll then move to the bassline, and then I build the other instrumentation around that.
I often build several layers to increase the depth of a song. Next, I’ll do the drums and fills. Then I’ll move to the chorus, followed by the bridge (if it feels like it needs one) using a similar method.
In a few cases, I’ll throw in an interlude of some kind as I did in ‘The Sad Clown’ and ‘Trapped’. Once those parts are written, I’ll concentrate on the melody line, followed by the lyrics to fit the feel and the rhythm of the melody line while maintaining the feel of the overall album. Finally, I’ll write the harmony line or lines as it relates to everything else.
Tell us about your latest self-titled release, ‘Blunt Blade’?
The album consists of complex vocal arrangements and instrumentation that have a heavy melodic base. The album is semi-conceptual, as I’d define it.
There are common themes of emotional struggle, with empathy and hope, while struggling with loss coupled with the hunger for hope and garnering the strength to overcome.
It’s a journey through emotional struggles until acceptance and healing are finally reached. Musically it has themes that vary from moody to joyous, even within individual tracks.
Dipping into each track, ‘Tension’ builds slowly around a common thread, layering as it grows with a funky bassline that is meant to fit into the soft yet intense disposition. The song is meant to express the first realization of a deteriorating situation.
‘The Build’ deals with disillusionment and the awareness that some are not who they portray themselves to be. ‘Coarse Reaction’ is rejection in the face of a strong desire for resolution.
‘Light Meadows’ tells a story of isolation and the loss of hope that is only overcome with the presence of someone who shows kindness and love, all wrapped around a simple melody.
‘Disarmed’ is about the exhaustion that often accompanies long and drawn-out challenging personal struggles. ‘Outsider’ has themes of being an outcast, at least a perception of being one.
‘The Sad Clown’ features runs of piano arpeggios and haunting changes while telling the story of the dangers of pride and the lack of humility. ‘Trapped’ illustrates the crushing nature of the loss of hope while offering a path to persevere.
‘Destructive Intent’ is a full and exhausted surrender to resentment and anger. ‘Struggling Skies’ is centred around resilience and calm during times of extended challenges. The song suggests that there is no need to fight over meaningless matters.
‘The End’, purposefully placed as the last song on the album, provides a sense of closure. It is a realization that things can no longer carry on as they once had and that there is hope and healing in moving on.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
That’s a really good question. While I can’t know how these songs will be interpreted by others, my desire is that those who hear them will connect with them on an emotional level.
I’ve attempted to convey that there is hope no matter what situation a person may be encountering. Most of us are not truly alone, yet we all feel that way at times. There are those around us who care about us. We just have to let them.
Who are your musical influences?
I have a very, very long list of bands and artists that have influenced me. I’ll give just a relatively small sampling: Funk/Disco bands/artists from the 70s such as The Commodores, The Isley Brothers, Chic, James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, and Kool and the Gang.
The early 80s funk artists like early Prince, Rick James, Zapp and Roger. Heavier bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Deftones, NIN and System of a Down.
Grunge bands such as Nirvana, STP, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Meat Puppets. Classic rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Queen, David Bowie and Jethro Tull. Prog rock bands such as Yes, Rush, Dream Theater and Tool.
Old school rap such as Dr. Dre, NWA and Snoop Dog. Bands/artists from the 90’s such as Beck, 311, Incubus, Linkin Park, Radiohead, Flaming Lips, Reel Big Fish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish and Cake.
More recent bands and artists such as Tame Impala, Metric, Blond Redhead, Japanese Breakfast, Khruangbin, Mitski, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. And an artist who fits into his own, almost undefined genre, Frank Zappa.
Who are your non-musical influences?
I’m a fairly big move buff. I especially love the films of Stanly Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, and Martin Scorsese, but I could go into hundreds of films that have influenced me. Movies tend to have the same impact on me emotionally as music, however, to a lesser degree.
You are based in Winona; what is the music scene like there?
It’s pretty wild how much it’s changed over the past ten years or so. Winona is a pretty small town. It used to be mostly cover bands. But things have really blossomed, and there is a ton of fabulous original music coming out of the area.
‘Blunt Blade’ is a superb alternative-rock release; what draws you to the genre?
My main intention with this record is to bring together a large amount of musical styles and put something out that I’d like to listen to if I were hearing it for the first time.
I’ve always been drawn to the more unique and original alternative/indie recording artists who aren’t afraid to try new things but believe in the power of strong harmonies and instrumentation.
Those trendsetters tend to move the music in new directions, giving listeners such as me new sonic pleasures to discover. That is very exciting to me.
What scares you most when releasing music?
I’m not sure that I have much in the form of residual fear when releasing music. There was so much joy in writing and recording these songs. However, when I first began, the biggest fear was that I’d hate what I put down.
Another concern was that I would fail in some step along the way. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to find the right mixing engineer, or the right promotions company, or distributor, or whatever. At the end of the day, it’s about working through the process.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
I would say the biggest is that there is just so much music being put out today, and a lot of it is just absolutely amazing. So there is a lot of competition for listeners’ ears.
Due to this, there is a chance that your music will not reach an audience that will appreciate it solely due to the lack of exposure to the right listeners. On the flip side, I don’t know that it’s ever been easier to get your work out to the public.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
While writing and releasing music can be very daunting and overwhelming at times, don’t fear the unknowns or allow that to discourage you. If you have even the slightest desire, buy the equipment and get to work.
Have confidence in yourself that you are able to write, record, and distribute your work. Also, listen closely to others who are willing to offer you their ideas and input on what you’ve written. Collaboration can make the results incredibly better.
When it comes to releasing music, there are a lot of resources available to artists to distribute and promote their work. Lastly, don’t wait. The rewards of writing and releasing music are immeasurable.
FVMusicBlog September 2022