Tues Oct 12,
Neumo's, 7:30 pm,
all ages, $10.
"I've known those guys for a long time, and the same thing always impresses me when I see them. They're so beyond their years." --Liars guitarist Aaron Hemphill
Even before their jump to the majors, local punk experimentalists the Blood Brothers were already smashing the hardcore formula in the skull.
Coming from a field where screaming your point across is the de facto modus operandi, the Blood Brothers project an unusual violence--planting fragile landmines in their music that frantic frontmen Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie yelp into controlled explosions. Their sound contains all the raw exertion and vehement expression of the most incendiary speed-metal or hardcore band, but with any predatory testosterone extracted. And they incorporate sonorous melodies that make your heart swell, if you're the sort that can appreciate beauty in such discord. Between the frontmen's prancy stage presence and lofty lyrics and the band's hairpin stylistic switch-ups, the Blood Brothers stir up a fury that's one of the most dynamic around. It's less a force directed at a specific target than it is a vigor moving them at light speed toward striking sonic explorations. Call it avant hardcore or simply tag it awesome, the Blood Brothers' music continues to arrive above everyone else in their class. And their latest release, Crimes, is only further proof of that fact.
But despite their abundant talent, the band's seven-year ride hasn't always been smooth. Back up to the fall of 2002, when it seemed they would finally get their due in a mainstream spotlight crammed with whiny "screamo" bands as formulaic as a math class. The Blood Brothers had inked a deal with Artist Direct to release their third full-length, Burn Piano Island, Burn. Industry heavyweight Ross Robinson was tittering the band's praises (in an interview for The Stranger, the Limp Bizkit/Korn producer said, "They're more talented than most bands I've worked with"). Spin tagged the Blood Brothers one of the possible "Future Stars of 2003." And then? Artist Direct started having financial trouble "right when Burn Piano Island, Burn came out," says guitarist Cody Votolato. "They pretty much ran out of money, so there wasn't really much of a push for the album outside of us touring and outside of interviews." Votolato adds frankly, "It's too bad, but that's the way it went."
The band has since fallen upwards, though--touring Europe a half dozen times (once with avant punks Liars) and landing a new deal with V2 Records (the White Stripes, Moby, the Icarus Line). And regardless of who's bankrolling them, the band continues adding brilliant new textures to its already complex musical makeup. Recorded with John Goodmanson, Crimes, like Burn before it, is seared with agitated outbursts tempered by a softer underbelly of piano, Wurlitzer, keyboards, and the hint of a trumpet. For "Teen Heat," there's even a quick hiphop breakdown courtesy of drummer Mark Gajadhar. "That was 100 percent influenced by LL Cool J, actually," Votolato says, laughing. "There's this [LL] song that [bassist] Morgan Henderson had that was kind of similar." The final track on Crimes, "Devastator," also takes a swift turn off Blood Brothers terrain. The track begins with atmospheric tribal chanting that swarms around Blilie and Whitney's fervent screams as the song blossoms into the poignant chorus, "Everybody needs a little devastation."
With Crimes set to come out this week, the Blood Brothers are already off making new musical inroads. There's an upcoming project with Liars where both bands cover songs by the Doors ("Five to One" and "The Soft Parade," with a joint jam-session recording planned as well.) "When I saw them play the new stuff, I saw some classic-rock influence in there and I knew they'd at least think [the Doors idea] would be fun," says Liars guitarist Aaron Hemphill of the concept. "The plan for it is to be really awesome," says Votolato. "It's going to be like a book. The guy who's putting it out at Hand Held Heart is gonna do all this art that goes along with it, too."
And then there's the new new material that even goes beyond what made it on Crimes. "We're writing stuff all the time, trying to keep that creative flow going," says Votolato, "as opposed to stopping it once the record's recorded. [We want] to keep it going and see what we come up with."