BY BRiAN LUSH
Every time I speak to someone from Nashville
town sounds sweeter and
sweeter. SAMANTHA GIBB (the producer of the 2008 documentary ‘A
OF MIND’) opened my eyes to the alternative rock undercurrent that
beneath the country music capitol. Pop rock princess KATIE KERKHOVER
GIBB’s findings in a recent interview and now after speaking with BLAIR
– the vocalist,
violinist and keyboardist of the world-infused hard rock band ABSINTHE
I’m there! With the release of their debut CD ‘LIVING GHOSTS’, ABSINTHE
stick their collective fingers up at what BLAIR refers to as the
“cookie-cutter” mentality that is prevalent in the world of rock. “
would rather [make this kind of music] than be one of those bands that
the studio and does a cookie cutter song that sounds like everything
says BLAIR “Sometimes it takes several days or several weeks for us to
song right... It’s a lot of work but at the same time, I think it’s
because I would hate to do all of this and sound like just another
band. I can’t stand that stuff. There’s too much of it.”
spoke with BLAIR of ABSINTHE JUNK over the phone.
Here is how it went.
are the second
artist from Nashville
that I’ve interviewed in the past couple of weeks.
Do you know
actually met her yet but we’re on the same scene and we cross paths
frequently. She’s a very good singer!
Nashville seems like the ideal place to start any
kind of band.
Oh yeah. Because of the recording industry that’s here,
there are so many options available. It’s unbelievable.
The CD is great! Now
that it’s out there for people to hear, how do you feel about the
I’m incredibly proud of it. We had pretty much a year of
creative gestation. We worked really hard to get it where it is and
hearing the finished product, I’m incredibly proud of the band and I’m
everyone that got to work on it. It has definitely surpassed my
quality-wise and production wise.
also sounds as if
you guys have come a long way in such a short amount of time. The band
a year old now, right?
It’s kind of relative because the band was started in July
of 2008 and it just went through so many reforms. You could say that it
actually started a year ago but it’s been going on for a little bit
did music begin
for you as an individual?
Oh man! I sang before I spoke. I know that much. I was self
–taught every instrument that I play. I taught myself how to play piano
eight and saxophone at eleven and viola by twelve through the help of
picked up cello, violin, bassoon, clarinet, oboe and bass guitar. You
I picked it up. It’s been a life long passion for me.
this band, was
there a succession of bands for you?
Not really. I lived in Texas
before moving here and my primary gig in Texas
was being a blues saxophonist for a house band. That was pretty much
all that I
did. I never really had my own project or anything like that. I moved
and it was like ‘Let’s just try
something!’ That was how it went.
drew you to Nashville?
Was it a music
It wasn’t that at all. I had friends up here and my life in Texas
was just getting
old and stagnant. I called my friends up and said ‘You
know what? I need a change! I need a plane ticket!’ I set
here and I haven’t left since and I’m very happy to be here.
genesis of the band. How did it begin?
It started out as a folk rock – and in some respect a blues
rock – kind of band back in July of 2008 and then slowly as I got more
of a say
in the band, the sound got to be a little more progressive and a little
strange. That was around the time that JEREMY joined. He helped in the
expansion of the sound, given his ability to try new things. As we were
on our first EP –which was a collection of six very eclectic songs –
became involved and he actually owns a studio here in Nashville
called REEL LOVE RECORDING COMPANY.
He got involved in the project and produced the EP. Over time, All of
people filed in together. I also sing in a PINK FLOYD tribute band and
the bass player from that project for a while as well as the drummer.
sort of fell into this project. That was how it got its sound. We all
drifted in from different facets of life and brought in our influences.
Talk about the other
members and what you think each of them has brought to the table both
and personality-wise that makes this whole thing work.
There is PATRICK HIMES and he is the lead guitarist. He also
does a lot of the rhythm guitar work and the keyboard stuff in the
basically producing the project. Personality- wise I think everyone in
is a big hippy. We do this really hard music but we’re all hippies.
fun loving happy dude that likes to play music all of the time. He
fun, I guess you could say. He’s kind of the founder of the sound of
project. He’s the one that would pick out the mics and decide on what
use. Even when JEREMY was playing something he would be the one to step
that or the other to get that exact sound. He fashioned the sound into
is. JEREMY MILLER has been with the project since October of 2008. He’s
goofball. He does video on the side and is a very talented videographer
handles a lot of the rhythm components of the band. He’s a great
lyricist so he
and I collaborate a lot. MATT CLARKE plays bass.
He’s an enigma. An island within him self but
that is what makes him fun. He only got to play on one track on the
track ASSASIN) but he’s going to be doing the whole next CD with us.
studio album, BRIAN HOEFLICH played drums. BRIAN could imitate CHRIS
the drop of a hat. He’s just hilarious. He’s just on all of the time.
handed rough tracks form us and came in one day later and just nailed
a lot of fun to be around.
Explain the creative
process. How do songs get written in this band?
They all start lyrically. I’ll write all of the lyrics for a
song first and then I’ll sit down at the computer and think about
around with some chord progressions and getting some ideas fleshed out.
of times it will start with me in a closed room by myself in the middle
night. Once it’s completely fleshed out and takes on a certain form,
take it over to PATRICK and say ‘Here we go!’ He usually ends up
cleaning up my
demos. Sometimes, they can be pretty awful. He makes it into an actual
there it continues on and we start adding drums and the bass. It’s a
process but it gives us the ability to be more creative and take our
find more interesting paths to take. With all of our influences, we
go into the studio in one day and get it all done.
It sounds like a
No, not really but at the same time, I would rather it be
that than being one of those bands that runs into the studio and does a
cutter song that sounds like everything else. Sometimes it takes
or several weeks for us to get a song right like the song ‘RUST’ which
months to get right. Because of that, that song comes across as one of
eclectic sounding songs. It’s a lot of work but at the same time, I
worth it because I would hate to do all of this and sound like just
popular rock band. I can’t stand that stuff. There’s too much of it.
What songs off the
album resonate for you the most personally and why?
Most of them do. Every one of those songs was written as
some sort of expelling of emotion for me. ‘COMMERCIALIZED WASTE’ was
being fed up with the music industry and that concept of the carbon
cookie cutter song. ‘SWEET VACCINE’ is a song that I wrote for my
That is obviously one of the closest songs to me personally. Every one
songs is part of me in some way, shape or form. It came form something
going on at the time or had happened in the past.
How have live
audiences responded to the songs?
Audiences have been really receptive to it. That is probably
what is so amazing about this project. We’re able to go out and play
and know what our songs are about but to hear their take on the songs
amazing. Every person that we’ve ever talked to after a show has a
take. We’re finding all of these different ideas and stories of how
songs have related to their lives and how it’s touched them and changed
It’s just an amazing thing. Now our songs have all of these other
What would you like a
person to come away with after hearing this album?
Oh that one’s hard! I would hope that after someone listened
to it that they would be enriched musically and would be able to come
it with each of the songs resonating with them, then I would feel like
done my job as a songwriter.