By Mark Sussman
photo courtesy of MERGE RECORDS
"Blond Redhead" - A newly metamorphosed (though still legendary) Blonde Redhead will perform songs from their latest release, Misery is a Butterfly, during their slot opening for Interpol at Coconuts on Monday.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 17, 2005
It all sounds a bit backward.
Anybody with at least one eye on indie rock over the course of the last two years has noticed Interpol. The conspicuously (though not inexplicably) popular New York-based quartet had a bit of a breakthrough with their 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights, and last year's Antics only cemented their status as one of those lovable, albeit gloomy, crossover bands.
But anybody with at least one eye on indie rock over the course of the last 11 years would have noticed Blonde Redhead. Since their self-titled debut in 1994, the band has cultivated a menacing, sharp sound alongside a rabid fan base and has become one of the most influential indie bands in the world.
So doesn't it seem odd that Blonde Redhead, the revered veterans, should open for Interpol, the new guys, on their current tour?
"We were a little hesitant first," admitted Blonde Redhead drummer Simone Pace. "We love (Interpol's) records and it just seems like a good thing to do right now. If we don't do it now then it might be too late, and we just decided to try. Exposing us to a different crowd might help us also because they're doing so well. You kind of have to be humble. Opening up is a good thing because it releases some of the pressure. If you enjoy the band you're opening for it's fun to watch them."
The band has certainly tried to avoid too much pressure in the last few years. In 2002, singer Kazu Makino suffered serious injuries when she was thrown from a horse she was riding. Blonde Redhead's live appearances since then have been sparse, and they released no new LPs between 2000's Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons and 2004's Misery is a Butterfly. The latter release lacks the same overt turbulence of the band's other releases, and it's not hard to see why.
"We've been attracted to music being sad and beautiful at the same time since we were little," said Pace. "This record has that. The situation we were in was very vulnerable when Kazu got really hurt. And you realize how something can just make things stop or make things completely different and difficult. The record would have sounded completely different if we had recorded it before the accident happened."
Misery is a Butterfly has a swirling, fever-dream quality, eschewing the dark, jagged avant-rock of Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons for hushed vocals and strings.
"I think it's just a natural progression from where we were at before with Melody," said Pace. "We always wanted to have some strings in the music and a bass also. I think that's part of the reason why it sounds so much more complete. The range is different. It reaches to different places and we had been thinking about it for along time."
Though Pace was confident in the new music, he hadn't yet played a show with Interpol when I spoke with him.
"We haven't really seen them yet. We don't really know them as people. We've just met them briefly. We're hoping to be inspired; I know it sounds selfish to say. We have a good feeling. I love the songs and the songwriting, and they seem like they know what they're doing."
Blonde Redhead will play with Interpol at Coconuts (296 N. Stone Ave.) on Monday. Tickets are $20 and doors will open at 9 p.m.