Richard MacFarlane talked with Cody Votolato, guitarist from US indie/spaz-rock/hardcore band The Blood Brothers. Forming in 1997, the five-piece have seen great success with their blend of angry but danceable indie-punk. Promoting Crimes, (their fourth album) they played Auckland two weeks back along with The Mint Chicks and This Night Creeps.
Richard MacFarlane: Its kind of strange that you guys actually came to New Zealand in a way.- how come you decided to tour here?
Cody Votolato: We just wanted to really. We didn’t really expect our show to be good or anything [laughs]. We just really wanted to come here, and we figured that seeing we were going to Australia then we might as well come here, because we probably won’t get the chance to again.
RM: Have you heard much about NZ? In terms of the music or the country itself?
CV: Ah, not really. I heard a few seconds of one of the bands we’re playing with. They sounded good.
RM: Ah, the Mint Chicks?
CV: Yeah, that’s the one. Were looking forward to seeing them play. But I don’t know much about New Zealand as far as music goes…or anything really.
RM: What might fans expect from the live show?
CV: Um, hopefully just to have fun, and to feel safe enough to dance. At times it gets pretty crazy, I think. It’s a fun time
RM: Yeah with your music itself, critics pretty much have a field day describing it. How would you describe it?
CV: [laughs] uh, I don’t know. It’s kind of a really tough question, to pinpoint what you sound like. But I’d like to think it’s a bunch of chaos with some melody, you know. I couldn’t pinpoint a genre…I hate doing that. I think with certain kinds of bands it’s pretty easy but even then its pretty ridiculous these days.
RM: Your sound, though, is pretty inaccessible or difficult, in many respects. Is that deliberate at all?
CV: No, its kind of what we sound like. We’ve just always written music that is a little bit inaccessible. I do think moments on Crimes are more accessible than previous stuff but that’s just what it turned out like really. I still think it’s a pretty weird record and the songs are pretty weird. There’s nothing deliberate like that with out band, it’s just how we write [laughs].
RM: Yeah I think on your earlier albums, you were far weirder and more chaotic than Crimes.
CV: Yeah, a lot more disjointed and weird.
RM: So you were on V2 records for Crimes. Were you previously on more independent labels for earlier albums?
CV: Burn, Piano Island, Burn! wasn’t really on an independent label. It was just like a start up major label, so it wasn’t like, well known.
RM: Did the change in labels have anything to do with the move to a less difficult sound?
CV: Not really, I mean we were pretty much just approached by the labels. I mean, we were still in like our first year of college. We took the band serious but we would tour in the summer whenever we had a chance. And we were approached and we considered it and we decided to try and make it our job because we thought it would be fun and then its just kind of been that way for the past four years now. Nothing has ever been forced in that area, that was never an ambition of ours. We all really wanted to play music – it wasn’t our dream to be in like, a big band, you know. And its still not an ambition of ours to be real famous.
RM: You guys strike me as being pretty, well, cathartic in your music. Is it a big outlet like that? Like, creatively or emotionally or whatever…
CV: Yeah of course, I mean I think whatever anyone creates some sort of art then it’s an emotional outlet in some way or another. That’s just how we express ourselves, and I think mentally through writing and physically through performing getting out that sort of stuff, yeah.
RM: Is being experimental a big thing?
CV: Yeah, when we’re writing we’ll just jam. We’ll just play, trying stuff out, and if something sounds good then we’ll remember it and it’ll turn into something, or if it doesn’t then it just won’t. We’ll just spend the day making noise but its always pretty fun like that.
RM: Yeah now Johnny’s vocals have been pretty extreme and high sounding lately, so I guess he’s been experimenting with his voice a lot?
CV: [laughs] yeah he’s been listening to a lot of Prince lately. The progression of his voice has just gotten higher and higher over the four records.
RM: What sort of bands do you sort of see as your peer group right now?
CV: The kind of bands that I see as fitting into our peer group aren’t really bands that I see as sounding like us. I think about bands that we’ve played with or toured with like The Liars, or The Locust, or The Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Against Me. All these bands that are friends, its almost this weird kind of community of people that play different sorts of music but have the same ambition and the same outlook of being in a band, and creativity wise. I really feel connected with bands like those and bands that inspire me and all these people who are constantly inspired by others. I think it’s really cool to sort of exist in this kind of thing. Like I don’t think anyone would draw to many similarities between those bands. That’s where I see our band as falling into, you know just this group of people that try and push themselves to be creative and make good, soulful music. It’s a cool time for music, I think.
2 weeks ago