Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Bloodtypes

Photo Credit: Jack Baikoff

     The Bloodtypes extract the best elements from ’77 punk and ‘80’s new wave and combine it into a form of music that’s as catchy as an airborne illness. Guitars that are straight from the Johnny Ramone cook book: fast and loud with hooks that don’t stop coming. A rhythm section that does more than keep a tempo, but constructs a sturdy frame work in which to deliver this volatile and explosive music to the listener with ease. A front woman with a voice that has the glam and urgency of Missing Person’s Dale Bozzio fused with the bounce and pop of The Go Go’s Belinda Carlisle. What you feel when listening to the Bloodtypes is a fully oxygenated, nutrient filled substance being delivered through your neurotransmitters straight into the sensory parts of your brain that will immediately form a physical and psychological dependence. You’ve been warned!      

Interview by J Castro

Please tell us who is in the band and what everyone does in The Bloodtypes:
SCHNECK: Hey, Schneck Tourniquet here. I’m the singer, and I also play synthesizer.

JESSE: My name is Jesse B Negative, and I play the bass guitar in the Bloodtypes.

I.V.: You sure do! My name is I.V. Frehley and I play guitar, kind of a side man in the

SCHNECK: Guitar-stage-right-side man.

I.V.: Yeah, one of my many bands, just down to one band right now.

MATT: Matt O Dermic and I play the drums.

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
MATT: Well, you see, I was hitch-hiking…

JESSE: It was a dark and stormy night.

MATT: in Wyoming.

I.V.: Oh God.

MATT: Trying to get from St. Louis to L.A.

I.V.: It was ’72, and you were trying to form a Credence band. That’s pretty cool. Then Schneck and Jesse picked us up from the side of the road.

JESSE: Well, I guess, that answers that.

SCHNECK: That’s our answer to that question?

I.V.: Well, we were all living in a damn house together, except for Matt, Schneck moved here from Germany when she and Jesse got married and Matt and I were in a band together previously….

JESSE: For the record, I think we should go with the earlier answer.

Photo Credit: Michelle V Motta

The band is based out of Portland. There seem to be a lot of really good bands there.  Is it tough keeping your heads above water so to speak or is the scene there pretty supportive of each other? 
SCHNECK: I think saying “scene” is misleading because there are so many different scenes. We went to Blackwater, an all ages punk club, the other day and there were all these people we had never seen before.

JESSE: Alright, “scene” is the secret word of the day. Every time you hear “scene” you’ve got to scream real loud.

SCHNECK: I was trying to make a point; the point being that there seems to be
different scenes.

Everybody: “AAAAAAHHHH!”

I.V.: Well, there are definitely ally bands.

SCHNECK: And the fact that some clubs are going under might in the long run make for a more unified scene (lifts a warning finger to screams of “AAAAHHH”). Anyway, I feel well supported, competition’s not something I worry or even think about.

You guys toured Europe last year if I am remembering correctly.  How did that go?  Can you tell me about the most memorable show you played?
JESSE: It went great! The most memorable show that we played was playing a giant concrete auditorium to 300 of Schneck’s closest friends and family and friends’ and family’s coworkers and clergy in front of a theater set with lots of doors, they were serving snacks.

MATT: Everyone in the audience had a Bloodtypes t-shirt on.

SCHNECK: It was pretty epic. I also liked playing that squat in Dijon where you guys almost got into a fight with a guy at the merch table.

MATT: It was the realest punk show we’ve played in a long time, or ever maybe.

I.V.: We won the crowd over. They were there for the Oi! Bands.

MATT: What about Lille, where we played to nobody? That was my most memorable show: a 300 Euro practice.

SCHNECK: And the dude paid up, kudos to him.

JESSE: He was super cool about it.

Photo Credit: BlommeMarnix_Kortrijk

How are European audiences compared to Americans?  I’ve heard they show a lot more enthusiasm in Europe.
JESSE: I don’t know if I agree with that.

SCHNECK: People come out more, I feel like. The shows seem better attended for sure.

I.V.: I think the enthusiasm level in Bern, Switzerland was not that great, they were just kind of staring at us. That wasn’t true for the next night in Z├╝rich. The crowd was more into it.

SCHNECK: I flashed the audience in Bern. Maybe that’s why. I also think Swiss
people just don’t have a lot to be angry about.

JESSE: I think you can’t generalize about an entire audience or place like that.
That’s like what a Greek person would do. They’re all generalizers.

I.V.: It is definitely easier to tour in Europe. The drives are shorter; you get a little
more respect.

You guys released an EP called Johnny in 2013 on Bomb Pop Records out of Seattle. How did you hook up with that label?
JESSE: Bomb Pop is essentially the long-standing dream of a friend of ours from Seattle who has been a fan and supporter of rock n’ roll for a long, long time, and I guess he finally got a little pile of cash together, and decided he just wanted to release the bands he really loved. It’s obviously kind of a small label but he’s been so good to us and so enthusiastic about it that it was an easy decision to go with him.

Photo Credit: Ronny Primitive Sound

What sorts of things typically inspire the lyrics to your songs? 
SCHNECK: It really varies. I feel like on the first record it was kind of the first thing that popped into my mind. You have all of those silly songs, like “Be A Man” and “Katz R Punx” then you have the angst-y break up songs like “Tear It Down”.

I.V.: What about “They Live”?

SCHNECK: Yeah, there are books and movies that inspire for sure. I’ve been listening to lots of stuff, podcasts, and I’m really interested in the dark aspects of life. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the Cold War as evidenced by “Johnny”, and conspiracy theories, which will show on the new record quite a bit.

I.V.: And World War I.

SCHNECK: Yeah, I actually just finished a first draft of a song about that today.

MATT: So we’ve gone from cats and love to war?

SCHNECK: You know, things that are too introspective I usually cast aside. It’s usually not about my story, it’s about bigger picture stuff.

MATT: The third record should be about communist cats.

Photo Credit: Ardonau_Limoges

What band or musician first inspired you to want to learn how to play an instrument? 
SCHNECK: My parents basically sent me to music school when I was 5, and I guess I stuck with it. But I ended up wanting to play punk rock because of seeing the Epoxies probably, I was really into them.

JESSE: I’m gonna go ahead and say my dad. If I’m being real, he played guitar and then I was in 5th, 6th grade and wanted guitar lessons. Even before that, my friend Jubal and I did something in 2nd grade. He could play guitar. We wrote songs and stuff together. I guess “always” is pretty much the answer for me.

MATT: I’m gonna riff off that and say it was probably my brother. My younger brother played drums and I just wanted to do something with him so I picked up a bass guitar. We played really crappy Nirvana covers then I started playing drums because there were no drummers in the college town that I moved to.

I.V.: My uncle Danny was an excellent blues guitarist; he’d always bring a guitar to family gatherings. He was such a cool guy: smart and had a quick way of talking, just sharp, witty. I’d never seen anyone play guitar like that before or after, or ever. Oh, and Nirvana (Everyone giggles). The coolest thing was to show up to school with a guitar and play like “Molly’s Lips” with your friends.

Do you think there’s any way a band nowadays can get away with not using social media to promote their records or shows? 
SCHNECK: Oh yeah, absolutely – if someone else does it for them, like if they have a great label to support them.

MATT: Facebook sucks!

JESSE: I think it’s probably perfectly possible. As Matt points out, Facebook is really terrible for promoting music. You know, I can think of a number of bands who maybe technically have a presence on social media but certainly don’t work at it and nevertheless everybody gets all excited when they come to town, like the Spits. They knock it out of the park every time.

SCHNECK: The Spits do post on Facebook.

JESSE: A little bit.

SCHNECK: I haven’t seen them tweet yet: we challenge you, Wood brothers!

I.V.: Those are more known acts. Do you think there’s any way a new band nowadays
can get away with it? I mean, sure if you’re the Spits you don’t have to push yourself on
Facebook quite so hard, as for example the Bloodtypes….

MATT: Sure. Play with other great bands that you like! Ultimately we all listen to bands
not because we saw them on Facebook but because we played a show with them.

SCHNECK: But we’re old, as you said.

JESSE: I think if you put out killer records and have a killer show then people will do it
for you, they’ll talk about it.

I.V.: I don’t think you’re gonna get to open for X because you have an awesome social
media presence but because you know people.

SCHNECK: But I think we live in a time where the audience kind of expects to have a somewhat personal relationship with artists. It feels like they wanna know what you had for breakfast and they want to you Instagram your cup of coffee or whatever it is you’re up to.

JESSE: I think that’s a way you can do it. It’s the way that a lot of people do it, but I
don’t think it’s necessary.

MATT: I don’t care what anyone ate for breakfast. I just want them to play a damn good

SCHNECK: One way is to forego social media altogether. Have a website with current
info and a mailing list. These are great tools to keep in touch with people that dig your
music directly without a medium getting in the way. If you wanna be on our mailing list:
and we send updates very judiciously, targeting them by location etc. then go to our
Facebook page or shoot us a message on our website.  

Photo Credit: Jared Prophet

With the amount of songs being illegally downloaded, do you feel there is ever going to come a time when music will just be free and bands/musicians are going to have to find other ways to make money?
Matt: Psh. We’re not making any money now (Chuckles).

JESSE: Will there ever be a time? I think that time is now. It’s more or less optional to pay for music at this point.

I.V.: I don’t think it’s gonna get any worse.

SCHNECK: We’ve hit rock bottom.

JESSE:  That’s the basic point. It might, hopefully get better and artists might be able to profit off their releases more in the future but it’s hard to imagine they could profit less off them. Platforms like Pandora and Spotify haven’t exactly come to the point where artists are making a legitimate living off them.

I.V.: That then comes back to playing shows that pay the bills, selling a shit ton of

JESSE: I’m down with that and you can make a good argument that that’s the way it can work for an artist but it also makes a certain kind of artist extremely disadvantaged. The
Brian Eno’s who just want to create an amazing studio record no longer have a revenue
stream for that amazing studio record.

SCHNECK: I guess that’s why we’re talking so much about the media presence. If
people like you, they’re more willing to spend money on you, and that’s one way to spin
it. Bandcamp’s been good to us too, power to the bands.

I.V.: We’re also past the point maybe, well speaking for myself, where I would love to make a living off of music right? So yeah, the focus is again on playing awesome shows. Hopefully the travel expenses are picked up and we’ll pay ourselves back a little bit for the time we take off to tour. Playing good shows with good people is always more the payoff.

MATT: We should be a wedding band. That’s where the money’s at! Weddings and Bar
Mitzvahs: that’s what we’re missing.

SCHNECK: Even NOFX figured that out.

Photo Credit: Jared Prophet

How important do you think image is to a band?  Do you feel this gets neglected by a lot of bands these days? 
Schneck: I love having a shtick. I think it’s awesome.

I.V.: Is image shtick?

JESSE: It can be. I think image on the other hand can also mean being the earnest guy
with an acoustic guitar and something to say. That’s an image, too.

Matt: It can also be the energy of a band on stage. I just don’t wanna go to a show and see a dude stare at his t-shirt and sneakers and play the exact same thing that’s on his record ‘cause I can listen to that at home.

JESSE: And that said image, in the broad sense, is incredibly important. What people want is, for the most part, in pop music a feeling of who they are and a certain kind of cool that comes from listening to music that you think is cool. I’m sure if everybody in the Cure dressed like Boys II Men they wouldn’t be popular with Goths.

MATT:  I’m visualizing that now.

I.V.: Point is we’re not all lounging around in our leather jackets. I’m the only one that has one, actually. Schneck: you have one too right?

SCHNECK: Well, it’s faux.

JESSE: I got one; it’s in the closet.

I.V.: Where it should be. We don’t push that sort of style. We’ve made a big point of being slightly more tongue in cheek.

JESSE: To go to the implied question there. Yes, we have a definite shtick that we execute on stage and I think it’s awesome and a big part of our appeal. But hopefully it’s a cherry on top and not a critical element of what people like about us.

SCHNECK: When I came up with the name “The Bloodtypes” I was like “I got it!
We’re gonna call ourselves the Bloodtypes and we’re gonna wear white spattered with red, like blood!” and Jesse was like “Don’t you think that’s a little silly?” … Five years later.

JESSE: It’s hard for me to imagine that I said that.

MATT: My point is you’re both right: Yes it is a little silly and yes it still stuck.

Photo Credit: Keith Johnson

What lies ahead for the Bloodtypes in 2015?
JESSE: Writing, recording, and touring, just like every year (Giggles all around).

MATT: Take over the world! Just like last year!

JESSE: Yes, specifically we’re ambitious to put out another album, do a west coast tour and hopefully get to Europe sometime around the end of the year, beginning of next year.
MATT: And some videos, speaking of social media presence.

JESSE: So keep your foot in the gutter and your fist in the gold.

MATT: Is that a reference to Ricky Rackman?!

SCHNECK: Our second record is probably gonna be called “Embracing the Sophomore Slump”.

I.V.: This new record will sound different.

SCHNECK: Yes, but I’m super-stoked on a lot of the songs on it. I think our songs are getting kind of complicated. We’re counting to 3 and to 5.

MATT: We’re kind of complicated for the genre.

I.V.: We’re counting to 5, is that what you said?

Twitter: thebloodtypes

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