It’d been 10 months since we last heard anything from Tampa’s own: The Blonde Tongues, in fact everything had been pretty quiet on the whole, with nothing but the occasional update to let us know that they were in the studio, and they were in-fact, working on new material. Then, five days ago, we got a new update, a new song, a new sound, it almost seemed as if they had become a different band. Now, All Apologies have brought in Mick Ford and Charlie Caruso, to discuss just about everything you could want to know about the band at this stage in their career. So, here we go, this will be long: The Blonde Tongues.
Just for some background: How did the band start?
CC: “Well in December of ’14 Reveal Renew had a tour that Roger couldn’t go on. So Mick, who we met through playing hardcore shows in Florida, came on tour with us as a fill in vocalist. At the time we felt that he was going to end up being permanent, but Roger ended up coming back to Reveal Renew. We felt, at the time, that we worked really well together, and Mick was actually contributing musically. We also had our hearts set on Zack the bass player from previous tours with Sleep Patterns, who had broken up after Connor their drummer ended up joining Beartooth, and their vocalist ended up forming Northbound. So Zack sort of ended up forming the Blonde Tongues with us, so we technically had our first band practice in January of 2015. I would say that was the start of The Blonde Tongues, because it was only really a concept prior to that. In fact the song we just put out, Glow, that was the first thing we ever wrote together, and that was written that day, when Mick and Zack came up from Miami and we all practiced here in Tampa, that was the birth of the band.”
That sort of ties in with my next point: so the first thing you put out was New Air Blues, but as we just found out: that was never meant to be the sound of the band, how do you explain that?
CC: “Okay so I can explain that, when Roger had left and we needed a fill-in for that tour, we were under the impression that he wasn’t going to come back, so we actually started to write and EP, because we were just going to pursue Reveal Renew. At the time we weren’t thinking about starting a new band. We wanted to pick up where we left off, put out a new record and get back on the road. So that record, we laugh about it now, but all that stuff was written for Reveal Renew, we actually call New Air Blues: ‘Reveal Re-two’ because it should have been a Reveal Renew record, but when Roger came back and we wanted to start another band, we already had the record ready to go, so we just put it out and announce that we’re this band, and to be fair we didn’t know the genre change that we were going to make.”
MF: “Yeah, it was about moving Reveal Renew, as a band, forward, and writing more conventional music without losing the edge. I guess that was my influence, meeting up with them and learning how to write together. We wanted to do something else together, but we’d already recorded these songs, so we just put them out under the new name really.”
So was that the same for ‘Yours to Keep’ then? Because that, was a very accomplished record, probably one of my highlights of last year, actually.
Both: *laughs* “oh, well thank you!”
CC: “I think. Correct me if I’m wrong, Mick, but Yours to Keep was just that song that we hadn’t finished when New Air Blues was recorded.”
MF: “Also, Stray Devil. Both those songs were songs that we didn’t finish when New Air Blues was recorded. I think Yours to Keep, specifically, was about making a song that was more straightforward and less about leaning on it being heavy, but still keeping it Rock. Stray Devil was really a left over, that we didn’t know what to do with, and it was us, trying to make sense of it I guess. There’s even this song that we’d started recording for New Air Blues, specifically, that’s lost in space somewhere, that we sort of scrapped.”
I can sort of see that, now that you mention it. Stray Devil especially, that was a great song, but it didn’t really fit, and, would you then also class ‘Yours to Keep’ as a bit of an afterthought as well then?
CC: “Well, I mean, to answer your question, the first two EPs were really pre-Blonde Tongues, and we sort of felt like we had to use them, and we accidentally turned the Blonde Tongues into another kind-of Hardcore, Punkish band. We were just picking up from where we left off in other bands.”
MF: “We were still learning to write together, even this EP now, there are five songs and they’re all very different, there’s a lot of exploration.”
I was going to ask: ‘Why change?’ but you really didn’t change at all. It’s just another side to the band.
MF: “It’s progression. If you listen to a band like Radiohead, their first album and their last album are completely different. Even the Beatles or the Stones, they put out like 30 years of music, but they sound completely different from their first record to their last record. I think that’s want we want to be able to do. We like to think of it as us progressing as musicians as well as people. Even though that old stuff was left over, we all feel like we did that sound, and we nailed it and there’s nothing else we really need to say on that point. So this is the next emotion that we have I guess.”
So you put out ‘Yours to Keep’ and you put the hardcore side to bed. You released the EP, then what happened?
CC: “As far as what happened next, after we released it, I think we knew pretty quickly, we have these songs, we have shows booked, the Tampa scene was booming, and we wanted to play. So I think we sort of ended up playing with the material that we had available, just for the sake of playing. We knew almost instantly that we didn’t want to get stuck doing this. We just needed to separate ourselves from Reveal Renew, rather than being two bands in the same scene, we can now coexist in two separate scenes”
So these past eight months or so, since the EP, have been a transition stage, really?
CC: “To call that seven month gap a transition, I think of it more as us perfecting these new songs, I feel like something clicked, and we just said, ‘alright, lets go write a bunch of songs.’ We wrote a lot of songs, I would rather consider it as a recording, tweaking, rehearsing time, we had a lot of catching up to do in a short window.”
So if it was more of a perfecting time, then what was the response after putting out ‘Glow’, did it have the desired reaction? Obviously, it’s a little difficult to gage, because you can’t actually buy the track, unless you’re gonna fork out $100 for it on Bandcamp..
CC: *laughs* “No, there’s an explanation for that actually!”, “But, I would say the response has been really good actually, I think initially New Air Blues got more hype than it should have done based on the bands that we all came from. Everyone in the Florida scene was more hyped up on where we’d all come from, rather than the record itsself.
MF: “They were like: ‘Oh, all these punk bands that I like got together and threw in some weird synth noise and some space noise, and put some song together, this is cool!”
CC: “So in terms of actually liking it, the response for ‘Glow’ has just all been, positive vibes. Not one person has been like: ‘Oh, I miss the old stuff.'”
MF: “To be fair, we did get the one guy, who said: ‘This is different… It’s not bad, but it’s not the same… What’s going on here…’ It was so neutral!”
CC: “But no, the response has been very good, and it’s only been a few days.”
MF: “I think once we get the rest of it out, I think that it will be a lot more positive, like ‘holy crap, you did all this stuff’ But at the moment, with just one song that’s different, I think people are unsure.”
CC: “Actually what Mick and I were talking about too was that we’ve gotten more reblogs and retweets and shares on this stuff than the other stuff, but no one’s really saying anything. A lot of people are just sharing it, and leaving it, like: ‘is it cool to like this yet? I’m not sure.'”
And the recording process? How did you find that? Were there any problems at all?
CC: “woah. Okay. Okay, like I said, man. It did take a hot minute to record this upcoming EP, which was super long. It was unbelievably long. It was a task that we definitely didn’t understand the scale of, and that was probably because we committed to doing these sounds, we committed to having harmonies in every song, we committed to having synth in every song. That was something we had never done as musicians before. So running into trouble? Man. It was just different.”
MF: “We were in over our heads a little bit.” *laughs*
MF: “We went into it a punk band and we came out of it… not a punk band”
CC: “Yeah, but that’s probably the best way to put it, we went into this recording as a punk band and came out of it as an indie rock band.”
So is there anyone you’re really trying to emulate with this new EP then?
CC: “Both really, I mean we take a lot of influence from a lot of bands, but at the same time we’re also trying to be very different from what is coming out right now. But also understanding what the overall goal as. At the end of the day we are musicians, and we’ve been doing this for a long time. So the goal has really always been for a long time: just being a musician, never anything else, it’s a calling.
So would you say then that this has been put together with the goal of being more commercially successful then? No one’s accusing you of selling out, but obviously you want to make money, you want this as your career.
MF: “So I think we’ve always wanted to sell out more or less *laughs* because a lot of the stuff that is ‘sellout’ is the best stuff, if you listen to Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, that’s sellout music but it’s still the most incredible recording ever committed to tape. Brian Wilson almost went crazy from recording that. I think that’s almost what we want to do to ourselves in a sense. We want to make something that someone can hear, and just tap along and enjoy it, but we also want people to still listen to it when we’re gone.”
CC: “Selling out is not what people think it is. Getting paid for your craft is not selling out, if you go to college to become a doctor you don’t sell out the day you get your first gig as a doctor, you’ve made it. You’ve got to where you want to go. It’s a dangerous a dangerous would because, we just want to get paid and do what we love.”
So you removed the old stuff from Bandcamp, is that your way of ruling out a return to that side of your music?
MF: “I think it’s more of: ‘Let’s not think about this for a while’ and the people who know about this, just keep on knowing about it, and maybe one day it will rear it’s head again and we’ll be a little more open about it, but let’s leave on the back-burner for a while.”
CC: “Furthermore, any new followers at this point,if they don’t have the option to go listen to that stuff, they wouldn’t even know the damn difference.”
MF: “I think we don’t want people to get stuck on thinking that’s who we are, we want people to see us for what we wanted to do. Maybe later, we can show it off as earlier stuff, this is where we came from, it’s almost like a treat for future fans.”
CC: “We’re proud of it, maybe if we release a full length, or a second full length, and we know we’re in a steady spot, we could release those recordings on a 12″ for record store day or something… It something that we’re forecasting in the future for something we can use, if we kind of tuck it away for a little bit we can pull it out later.”
Would you agree then that there are some restricitons that come from being a Hardcore band, and under the moniker of an Indie band, you’ve got a lot more room for experimentation?
CC: “Bingo. Spot on.”
MF: “Also, a lot of the time people who like hardcore, like that really specific element to hardcore punk. So when you stray too far people are like: ‘That’s not why I listen to this.’ But it still comes through that we’re from and are heavily involved in the hardcore scene, it’s definitely still in the background.
But in some ways you’ll always retain a portion of that punk ethos, though?
MF: “Yeah, definitely. I mean, you can stop playing punk, but punk never stops playing you.”
CC: “Wow.. That’s a good quote.. Damn.. That’s a tshirt right there.”
CC: “Don’t put us in a room together.”
Okay. So what now?
CC: “There’s quite a bit.. We have a lot of high expectations for what is to come, but now… It’s all about setting us up to have a future in 2017. 2016 is about refining, and sure we’re gonna be playing shows and releasing the record. But we’re really spending these last 6 months driving into the fact that we’re paving our future. But as far as the immediate next, music videos definitely, and we’ve also got the actual release of some of our songs, we’re getting ready to really roll into next year without any hesitation or barriers so we can just be a band.
MF: So it may be wishful thinking, but we want to get back on that timeline of releases, keeping to the schedule, especially now we have the material to back that up. We also have a lot more to say, so we’ll be able to play shows and release music, which is nice because before we didn’t really want to play the music we had put out. So we were just tiptoeing around.
CC: “But now with this EP that we’re putting out, we can play shows without worrying and basically we can just be. Which is really nice.”, “But yeah, we have some pretty high expectations for 2017, that’s for sure.”
Finally, more so than what’s next. What’s in the future, what’s the goals?
CC: “In it’s simplest form, releasing another batch of songs, that’d be awesome, but there is definitely another side to tell.”
MF: “Especially with all these ideas, we want to release a few EPs. We want to explore things minimally, but we don’t want to jump the gun on a full length, we want people to want to hear a full length.”
CC: “Touring as well, we do want to get back on the road, we do want to come to the UK, we do want to come to Europe, and we think our music would do really well there..”, “I think Warped Tour as well, that’s something we all want to do, that would be a milestone for us, just being on that tour would be amazing.”
MF: “I don’t know if anyone would like us at Warped Tour, to be honest..” *laughs* “I don’t know man..”
CC: “But we really want to turn into a fest band, and play really major festivals.”
MF: “But to be fair, we also want to play dirty little bars.”
CC: “Oh, yeah, there can’t be any misunderstanding, we always want to do that. Secret shows, house shows. There is nothing better than a house show.”
It just seems, that you’re in a good place at the moment as far as the band goes.
CC: “Definitely better than it was. There is now definitely a future to be considered, whereas before we were just sat twiddling our thumbs.”
MF: “We just want to be at a point where we can whole heartedly say: ‘I am a musician’ not just ‘I am a musician and I work in a burger shop’
So. There you have it. The Blonde Tongues, they’ve got big plans going forward and some big news in coming weeks. I’m going to put up an edited version of our chat just as soon as I have time to cut it up. That really might be worth a listen as there is a lot of really cool stuff in there that didn’t make it into this post.
Once again, thank you for reading!
Glow can be streamed on Bandcamp here.
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