Long time no see, everyone! Hope you've all been well. I'm two sentences in and this intro is starting to sound a lot like the awkward beginning to a business meeting so I'll just get right into it. I'm sure you've all made some new friends in the past year? (yes, even if we're in a pandemic...) The internet really is a wonder, isn't it? Anyways, meet our new pals- The Blinds!
They're a four piece alt-indie-rock-whatever-else-you-wanna-call-it-because-there-are-so-many-genres-nowadays band hailing from Westchester, New York. On the drums, you'll find Leo, Morgan on guitar, Frank on bass, and you've got Joe on vocals. Their album, Tell Me What You See, dropped today so I had a quick chat with Joe about, well, you'll see.
A: It's your debut album as a band! Outside of "Zoe" and "White Fang", we haven't heard much and don't really know much about you guys, do we? So how did The Blinds come to be?
J: Well me and Morgan met in high school, we were in a band called Pant together (during his senior year, my junior year) and through that we met Frank. When we were working on the demo for Tell Me What You See, Leo dm'd our friend whose attic we were actually using to record and he was just looking to jam. So we all got together, jammed, and it kinda just went from there.
A: If you don't mind me asking the ever-so cliché question, who are your biggest influences?
J: You know, our engineer and producer, Sam Wagner, listened to Weezer's blue album, Foo Fighters' second album, and others along those lines to try to get that similar sound. I've been listening to a lot of Grant Lee Buffalo's work lately, I really like his writing style and melodies, it's all really cool stuff. Outside of that, it's always been The Strokes, Cage the Elephant, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Oasis for me. Leo has really always been into John Bonham and Led Zeppelin along with the Foo Fighters. Morgan, our guitarist, is definitely influenced by Jimmy Page and Rory Gallagher. And Frank, they really like George Harrison and the Beatles' work. And there's a lot of hip hop and rap influences you might be able to hear on the bass lines throughout the album. Like on "Serenity", the last track on the album, it was all improvised and they killed it, it's really incredible.
A: I noticed you mentioned there being a Beatles influence... is that where the album title came from?
J: Nope! I knew I wanted to call the album "Tell Me What You See" before I even wrote the song. Originally we had six songs and it was gonna be an EP under the same name that the album's falling under, but then I wrote the song and I was wondering how I could incorporate the title into the lyrics. It's probably my favorite song that I've written for the album and I knew I wanted it to be the title track.
A: The age old question- are you a Beatles or a Stones fan?
J: I mean, you have to say Beatles. But *he whispers* I do fuck with the Stones... How about you?
A: Even though I do think they're a ~little~ overrated, I'm gonna say musically, it goes to the Beatles and aesthetically, the Stones take the cake.
A: So I read that you started the album in early 2020. It was practically born in quarantine. What was that like? Creating at a time when the whole world's kinda rocky and people are self-diagnosing themselves with cabin fever?
J: It was really just a way of keeping myself sane. I'd find myself going down to the basement at night, starting at like 10 o'clock with the guitar and finishing at 3 in the morning, just to see what would come out of it... The first song I ever wrote was the third track on the album, "Conversations in Parked Cars", when I was 16 or so? And the chorus for "Serenity" came to be at some cafe's talent show with Morgan, we just threw together a quick song. So those were the only two things that were created prior to the pandemic. But yeah, once I was sent home from school with nothing to do, I kinda just posted up in the basement and got to work. "All You Do" and "Better Man" were the first two songs that came together and the last ones I wrote were "Last Forever" and "Sulk". So I'd say it was about nine months of writing and then we just headed into the studio, and here we are.
A: When I was listening to the album and I hit "White Fang", I thought to myself, "woah". It's such a big jump stylistically-speaking and I thought its placement that early in the tracklist was such an interesting choice. What were the intentions behind that?
J: I didn't want it to be one hard rock song after the other. I wanted to break it up and originally, "Conversations in Parked Cars" was gonna be the second single, it wasn't gonna be "White Fang". It's to kinda show that we do have that more delicate side, that more sensitive and acoustic vibe to us rather than just straight up rock songs.
A: I've noticed that a lot of artists opt for a slower tune to end the album and I've always questioned that. Like is this really what you want to close this album with? I didn't see it here with "Serenity" though...
J: We didn't really know what to end with, actually. When we were in the studio, we obviously had all the songs we were gonna record and we had demo tracks for all of them. But for "Serenity", we pretty much only had those first three minutes and it wasn't until we did the recording two or three times in the studio that Sam was like, "Why don't you guys just explode from it? Do a key change and have a jam session?" So we did it, heard it back, and knew that this was gonna end the album. But it's so crazy because I think the final version you're hearing is the first or second take we did, it was all just on a whim. I think on the last "I find serenity", it's me looking at Sam and you can hear me laugh cause I'm just thinking, "Dude, holy shit, this is it."
A: You guys are from New York, but I know you're out here in LA for awhile... Do you think location has played a role in your writing and overall creative process?
J: Well whatever I'm surrounded by is definitely gonna have an impact. So if I'm hunkered down in my basement back home with no one around, I'd probably write a different tune than I would while here for the summer. But it's not only location, you know? Not to sound cliché but I also think it has something to do with maturing as a writer and finding new inspirations.
A: And to end, a bit less trite (not really) than the questions before, what can we expect to see (or hear) from you guys in the future after this release?
J: We're all pretty spread out right now with college and everything so live shows are gonna be a bit tough but that doesn't mean we can't have acoustic sessions and livestreams, right? For now, it looks like it's mostly gonna be writing and recording for us. The way I see it is that if COVID never happened, we wouldn't be where we are now. I wouldn't have written these songs and there's no way we would've all been in one place long enough to record this. We started recording the demos in June of 2020 and there were only five or six songs prepped. From there, we kept writing, we met Leo, and everything kinda just fell into place. If you were to tell us two years ago that we'd be in LA for the summer, releasing our debut album as a band (our nine song album[!]), I'd say you were insane.
Tell Me What You See is out now and you can listen right here!
And as usual, here are the socials for your perusing pleasures :)