"The Blue Bloods" released their selftitled album earlier this year. As mentioned in the review, it is some very cool and catchy punk rock, which really made me want to know more about the guys behind that sound. Blue Bloods' guitarist T.J. Welch took some time to answer my questions... |
First of all, my compliments on "Blue Bloods". I really liked it a lot. Some very cool Punkrock with which I had lots of fun.
T.J.: thanks for the compliment
And here are my questions:
You're a pretty "young" band, regarding the date of your first release ("Rub some dirt on it", 1999). How old are "The Blue Bloods" as persons and what do they do to earn their money?
T.J.: tim, our singer is in his early thirties. he works as a manufacturer_s rep. the bass player, goose, is in his late twenties, and he is a graphic artist. he did our cd artwork, and our shirts and flyers. i'm thirty seven years old. that's still younger than ian mckaye, glenn danzig, mike ness and onno cromag,. i am an manager for an industrial electronics distributor, and also part time, i have my own disc jockey bussiness. i keep busy trying to stay ahead of the bills, and keep my two sons fed. punk rock doesn't pay for anything. occasionally, i get free beer when we play out. i play punk for the love of the music, and not the money, although, i wouldn't mind making a little cash at it.
In your list of idols you line up some of the greatest bands in Punkrock: The Misfits, Black Flag, Bad Religion, Minor Threat and others. How much did they influence your sound and your attitude towards the music you play?
T.J.: i grew up listening to and going to shows of those bands. i also grew up in a great punk rock town. boston had and still has a great scene. i like all the classic punk of the 70's and 80's. i love the raw energy and genuine emotion of the genre. my playing and songwriting is heavily influenced by all the hardcore punk stuff, but not so much by the metal and crossover stuff. i like metal, but i consciously try to stay away from metal guitar playing style. the other bluebloods feel the same way also. if i take a solo that goes longer than six seconds, our singer throws a beer bottle at me. i dig deep into metal also. my favorite metal band right now is high on fire. metal is great , hard , guitar music, but metal and punk never mixed quite right to me. they are two separate genres, with two separate attitudes.
Have you ever met some of these guys personally?
T.J.: sure, i did some drinking with dr. know of the bad brains. cool guy. also, i met bill stevenson from black flag. the list goes on forever. most people in punk bands are like you and me. most of them have to go back to work at some sort of non rock and roll job after the tour to pay their bills. that's what makes our music so real and unpretentious. punk music is largely the product of the real working class world. we aren't singing about some bullshit fantasy world. some of us older guys have kids. the singer for blood for blood is a post man. i think choke cuts hair. there you go !!! the secrets out !! the myth is deflated.
A name which is often mentioned when talking about you is "Dropkick Murphys". To be honest, it was one of my first thoughts also. Have you ever met them personally?
T.J.: we bump into them at bars and shows around town once in a while. ken casey sent me an email and he said that he liked our cd. i have a lot of respect and admiration for the dropkicks as well as the bosstones. both bands have given back to the local music scene, and supported other boston bands.
Your current release "Blue Bloods" offers lots of that "catchy anthemic street punk with rock n'roll riffs" because of which the labels and media became aware of you. What do you think about this album? Are you satisfied or what would you maybe do different?
T.J.: we wrote the songs to stick in your heads. it's a solid album from track one through track eighteen. people seem to identify with the anthemic and uplifting aspects of our stuff. if we can move people, then we have accomplished what we set out to do. it's nice to have the audience scream lyrics back at us live. tim sticks the microphone right in the pit. all this allows us to bond with the fans. i am very satisfied with what we have done. we recorded it at the outpost with jim siegal, and he managed to get a ferocious guitar and drum sound. he is an analog guy, and so am i. i stay away from effects, and use just a les paul guitar and a tube marshall amp. we recorded most of it live, in two days. it isn't punk rock if you need to take a month and do tons of overdubs. as far as doing things different, i wouldn't change a thing with it.
How do you guys write songs? And who after all writes them and when?
T.J.: the songwriting process is collaborative. tim writes the lyrics, and goose and i alter them, and make them fit into the music. tim's an english major, and he is very good with expressing his emotions through words. we write most of the music in our jam spot, and goose or i usually have pre concieved guitar and bass parts. goose may have a verse, and i may get a chorus, or vice versa.
On to some live stuff...
Will you be touring Europe in 2003?
T.J.: i think that our label, i scream is working with mad booking to put together something that will happen before year end. one of the rumors is that they are trying to put together a tour with a few boston bands, like slapshot, blood for blood, and us. they want to call it 'the boston mob' tour. sounds good to me. i hope they pull it off. we can't wait to play for you guys.
Have you ever toured Europe before?
T.J.: no, but i've been over there several times to visit people. it_s been about ten years for me, and i have the feeling that things are changing there. i think the e.u. has probably changed things a lot. the euro and things like that will help break down barriers between each country, and help unite the continent. there may be some downsides to this, but unity is a huge upside.
Could you imagine any reason to stop playing music? What would that be, if any?
T.J.: no, i've been in bands since i was fourteen, and i will be in a band when i hit the retirement home.
Do you think it is sensible for musicians to actively participate in politics, like for example Jello Biafra once planned?
T.J.: yes. if actors can make good presidents, then why not musicians ? reagan helped to kill communism, and as a result, the german people are once again united. if you want to change things, then the best way is to become an elected lawmaker. musicians are not all drugged out, irresponsible idiots. punk rockers especially, get a bad rap from society. punk has a d.i.y. ethic. d.i.y. people are organized and motivated. we get things done. more musicians should run for office. in the democratic world, politicians come from all walks of life, and that is essential to balance the system out. i am a moderate, i believe some things that jello biafra stands for, and some things that ted nugent stands for. the truth lies somewhere in between. radical leftists or radical right wing people often produce the hitler types of the world. all the same, we need these extreme and passionate people like jello and ted to clearly vocalize both sides of any issue. sonny bono is probably a better example of a musician turned politician succesfully. joe walsh and frank zappa also tried to run for office, but they were to 'out there' to get elected. in the eyes of most voters, jello is out there even further, but i would vote for him. years ago, i saw the dead kennedies with my brother, and we drove five hours to see them. i didn't have a ticket, and it was a sold out show. i talked to jello when he was coming out of the tour band before the show, and he got us in for free. he's o.k. in my book.
Is there anything you want to tell our readers?
T.J.: we appreciate our growing following in europe, and we look forward to playing for you guys soon.
Okay, that's about everything.
I wish you guys all the best and hope to see you on tour here in Europe somewhen.