Interview

Blonde Redhead

Blonde Redhead

Monday 13th December, 2010 10:59AM

Seminal independent stalwarts Blonde Redhead are coming to New Zealand for the first time as part of Laneway Festival. UTR caught up with Simone Pace, where, in his Italian-by-way-of-New York accent, he discussed everything from horse riding to the music industry to getting by with a little help from your friends.

So Blonde Redhead is coming to NZ for the first time! Are you excited?

Yes! I didnít know we were coming to New Zealand until like two days ago, but weíre very excited. Itís beautiful there right? We donít know anything about the place right now, but I donít want to know I just want to come there and see what itís like and be surprised.

Tell me about your latest record, Penny Sparkle:

Well we wanted to make a record that was very different from the other records. We didnít know what we wanted to do until two producers - Alan Moulder (Depeche Mode) and Van Rivers & The Subliminal Kid (Fever Ray) - came Upstate in New York, to where we were writing the songs. We had a pretty clear structure for the songs already and we kind of thrashed it out and we worked with them and it was hard work but it was great and weíre really happy with the result.

What were you concerned with thematically on Penny Sparkle?

I think the concept of the album grew when we were recording it and experiencing the collaboration between different people Ė having these people onboard developing the record really affected what it meant. I know we (Blonde Redhead) were all a bit frustrated because we wanted to do something different but we were a bit stuck - especially after so many records. This collaboration kind of opened up a whole new chapter in what we can do and where we can go with size and concept and sound. I donít think weíve ever had record with such range in the bass or the treble and itís really exciting to be able to achieve this.

So has Blonde Redhead entered a new era of songwriting?

I would like to think that every album that we do has that idea behind it. We try to do something completely different each time, but on this one it might be more obvious because there were other people involved Ė you can really hear this influence of other people.

 

Regardless of what direction Blonde Redhead takes each album, you have a sound that is uniquely your own. How would you describe the heart of Blonde Redhead?

Well I think the heart is the harmonies and melodies. We have a very melancholic sound that runs through every record, but I also think for people we relate to or who listen to us we have this specific thing that is significant to them, and to us. Also, both of us grew up in Italy and were exposed to a lot of classical music and dramatic set music so I think we are attracted to that naturally. That to me is the heart of the music for the band and of course the lyrics and the melodies always relate to this and fal into place around it.

Why is the latest album called Penny Sparkle?

We liked the name Catherine and Emilio ride horses and theyíve been going to this horse riding school for many years now and thereís a horse that Kazu Makino rides there called Penny Sparkle and she brought it up and we though the name sounded really good for the record and so we titled it that.

Blonde Redhead lives and records in Brooklyn. There seems to be an overwhelmingly supportive and unique music scene there at the moment. Is this a fair statement?

Yep, actually Iím the only one that lives in Brooklyn but we rehearse in Brooklyn as a band there. I think a lot of great things coming out of here. Weíre friends with a lot of bands and LCD Soundsystem lives around here and Grizzly Bear so itís a very exciting place to be. Itís nice to be around a scene which feels like a lot of things are happening and you can go and see a new band all the time and you are likely to be friends with musicians. But we are not very sociable people. We donít go out to gigs all the time and we donít party - we more go out for private dinners by ourselves - so I canít really say that we would be the best people to ask about the scene right now. I kind of like stay home and chill out when weíre not on tour.

Blonde Redhead have been part of the fabric of the music industry for such a long time and seen it change monumentally during your career. How have you been affected by the changes?

Well I think what affects us the most is each other. I think we have a wish with every record to make it better to try something new, strange and unusual and for this one I think we wanted to explore making it modern Ė modern isnít the right work Ė technically itís pretty up-to-date Ė even though that sounds horrible too. We were exposed to a lot of people who have a really good grasp on electronic music and we wanted to make a record that was really proficient like that. We did have a lot of collaborators on board. You learn so much for giving up some control, even though itís difficult Ďcause youíre like Ďthis is my baby.í You want to do everything and it was difficult to step back but it was also priceless in terms of the learning experience we had. So that was the case with Penny Sparkle and every other record has itís own little story behind it. I think the most influential thing for us is just each other and how we work together.




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