Posted on January 19, 2015
Adam Brennan : I was in America and I was in an airplane flying over Detroit. I was thinking about after the end of my last band On Sparrow Hills. I was thinking about my next band, and I had something I wanted everything to be in 3s, for no reason. I wanted the band initially to be maybe like a punk band, not punk like Offspring but punk like Wire. I also wanted it to have a significant nod to classic rock and roll, so New Blue is actually a nod to Elvis' “Blue Suede Shoes.” And just saying "new blue" reminded me of Buddy Holly 1950s, the birth of rock and roll. Oh but then, it's gonna be a punk band so I need something hard -- "death". I just liked the sound. It means literally nothing.
Adam Hickey : We've been asked this question before and Adam always says the same thing, and I always give the same follow-up response. I remember when he got off that plane and we met for a beer; he said, "I want it to be loud and abrasive. I kind of want no one to like it. And the name is New Blue Death." And I was like "Yeah man, that's a good name for that."
Maggie Devlin : You know who really likes the name? The singer from Skidrow. He told Adam enthusiastically at Pentaport when he was like, "What band are you in?"
Maggie : And he asked Adam, "Why did you pick the name?" We were already drunk and Adam was like, "You know, a little bit of Elvis and a little bit of death."
Adam B : We got off that trail almost immediately. But not intentionally, it's just the songs didn't sound like that, and I didn't want to force it.
Ethan Waddell : Before, Adam would bring the songs to practice and everyone would give their input. But now, that song in particular, I think that's our process that someone brings something to practice and then the rest of us sculpt it together.
Adam H : Someone will bring in a seed and the band will turn it into a garden. I think when we first started, we made the first record in a very calculated way. Adam had a batch of songs, and we made our first record before we'd ever played live. So in a way it was not an organic process. We were writing for the studio and writing for an album, just trying to figure out the songs. But we had never stepped out on the stage as a unit before.
Adam H : That was a choice that we made, at least in Seoul. We just wanted to make a record, and we thought in the city at least we could put out a record and there would be some interest in it because we had all been musicians involved in the scene for a little while. Since then, it’s had to become a more organic thing. Playing live really influences you in so many various ways.
Maggie : I think the band really opened up too. When I first joined, the strength of the band was that there was this very clear songwriting vision of Adam’s. But I think it's a testimony to Adam's comfort and confidence in himself that he let go with this album. And when we brought in songs we took them forward in different ways. Everyone now has had a much bigger input, it seems.
Ethan : My experience is that when the idea is brought in, it's very much independent. Especially like with Tony, our new drummer. He's really influenced the way we sound now. He plays a bit more technically than Pat, so now it's a lot more gridded out, the music.
Maggie : The songs seldom sound the same as when they first come in. In fact that's almost the kiss of death.
Maggie : Inevitably you'll say how you want it to be, but...
Ethan : We've talked about that before, like being able to let go of the idea that you had in the beginning.
Adam B : All the songs that I think I brought to this one, are like “Here's the idea, let's do it together. Is that fair?” I don't think there's a dictatorship happening.
Adam H : If one of us does have an idea, it's good to be able to let it go. Otherwise it's gonna be unhealthy for the band and ultimately unhealthy for the song.
Adam H : Trust the person next to you.
Ethan : Yeah, sometimes we have talks about it, not to shoot down other people's ideas.
Alberto Alba : I think we're pretty democratic when it comes to sharing ideas in the band. And in the end all of us are really flexible. So even when one of us comes in with an idea and is really, really convinced about this idea but the rest of the band says no, we just accept it. It’s happened at least once to all of us.
Adam H : Inevitably when you play with different people, people are going to bring different things to the table. Play to your partners’ and your bandmates’ strengths and not their weaknesses.
Adam H : Yeah exactly. For example, drums are a huge thing. And our new drummer Tony is awesome. He's stylistically very different from our old drummer Pat, and that's opened us up. We're playing to Tony's strength as a drummer.
Alberto : The whole CD is much dancier.
Maggie : Very light and very technical.
Adam H : Yeah, so that's what Tony does well, so let's play that up.
Picture : Mathew Brisebois
Ethan : I think it's a very talented scene. I know Adam has more to say. Hehe.
Maggie : Yeah people talk a lot of shit about the scene here, but if we were playing in a band back in Ireland anyway, we would all need to own our own amps, we'd have to own a van, we'd have to own a drum kit.
Adam H : It is very convenient to be in a band in Korea.
Alberto : It's really easy to start in the Korean scene, but it isn't so easy to go on.
Ethan : I have a theory about this. I think here the scene of foreign musicians is kind of like a small country. And sometimes it interacts with Korea. But most of the time it's completely independent.
Ethan : Yeah, so I feel like we're actually pretty good for the tiny scene of like maybe 200 musicians. But then again we also live in a really small country.
Adam B : I would say that in the last 10 years I've lived in Asia, Seoul has consistently, and ever more so as time has passed, been more interesting than anywhere I've been. When I talked to people in Japan back in the day I was like, "Japan is the coolest place in the fucking world." But now I talk to people in Japan and they're like, "No, Seoul is way fucking cooler." I do think Seoul is incredibly diverse, and just the fact that there is actually a scene here puts it eons above almost everywhere else I've been because most other places I've been there aren’t 200 musicians. Or it's just a bunch of cover bands.
Adam B : No, in this country? Not a label. If someone wants to give us a bunch of money…. but other than that, no.
Adam H : You can print that too, "We are open to taking money!"
Ethan : It's also hard to sign a contract because we're so transient. Companies want 3 or 4 year contracts.
Adam B : If we could get a record deal where they would just support us financially, so that don't have to worry about anything other than making music and making songs, great. But those days are gone, even in America. And in Korea that's far gone, that's bullshit.
Adam H : Being independent is a double-edged sword. I make a lot of the videos for the band, and it's a really fun process to be involved in. But then at the same time it's also exhausting. It's a thing where I'm happy to do it because I love making videos, but also I have to do it because no one else will do it for us. So I do wish a little bit of the burden could be taken off.
Alberto : Exactly
Maggie : Even this album release. That wasn't the ideal time for us, but at the time of choosing that date our choices were January 24th or June. And in June, possibly me or Adam Hickey weren't going to be in the country then. So then…
Adam H : Even starting this album took a lot of time. If we knew what we knew now we could have started this album 6 months ago. But we didn't know at the time, so we were like, "Let's write and wait and see." But now is the right time I guess because it's now or fucking never. Let's fucking do this thing.
Adam H : Haha, well the time has come. Whether or not it's the right time I don't know.
Adam H : If there is a number 3, we don't want to go through the process of uncertainty again. We’d need to carve out the time to make a third album, and commit to making it and conceptualize that process. Going through what we've gone through now, we know the pitfalls that might come up.
Alberto : Also this is an album were three of us were newcomers in the band. So it was more difficult to have a whole concept. Now we're more used to each other musically. And we can think from the very beginning.
Adam H : In writing this album, the uncertainty lent itself to weird experimentation. Through the process, it was a very murky kind of cloud like, “What are we doing, where does this song go, how does this make sense?” But now that we're at the end of that process, and we're kind of looking at this thing like, "Look at what we've made! Now I get it. This kind of fits with this and so on…"
Ethan : We all have a ‘steak’ in it :)
Adam H : Hahaha. You did it! You got the joke in there.
Ethan : And some baked potatoes too.
Interview : Jonathan Jacobson
Korean Translation : Sehee Kim
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Date : Jan 24th (Sat) 22:00
Venue : DGBD
Adv : 10,000won
Facebook Event : https://www.facebook.com/events/921773154500597
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