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The Blood Brothers

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This interview originally appeared on

Love rhymes with synapse melting genius noise as The Blood Brothers get celebratory on the road.
Interview with Morgan Henderson (bassist/keyboardist)

There’s a famous scene in 24 Hour Party People where the ideal Joy Division drum sound is encapsulated in the phrase “faster but slower”. It’s a scene that could well have been played out featuring Seattle’s eclectic noise warrior’s The Blood Brothers, who over five albums have been executing the conundrum “heavier but softer”. Since the turn of the century The Blood Brothers have been redefining heavy music, carving new seismic waves across blood stained vinyl grooves. In 2003 they released the album ‘Burn Piano Island, Burn’, which not only saw Piano Island ignite but also a frenzied wave of media and fan acclaim. Continuing their growth by joining V2 and changing up their sound to a new level the band unleashed the modern masterpiece Crimes. Crimes is a career defining album, it marked The Blood Brothers out as one of those band capable of genuine invention and renewal. Whereas ‘..Piano Island…’ was a transcendent album in terms of layered heavy music ‘Crimes’ took the band in a new direction that allowed the jazz/melody elements to finally breathe, it showed an evolution of sound that allowed fans to imagine any number of possible routes to be followed over the coming albums. With ‘Young Machetes’ this progression is continued at breathtaking pace and takes another step into cementing The Blood Brothers seat of honour in the annuls of modern musical history. Which explains perhaps why bassist/keyboardist Morgan Henderson is in such celebratory mood.

So first off how’s the tour going, because I know you’ve had a few cancelled shows and there have been some health issues, but how’s it been generally? The tour has been really great, because this tour has been like a constant celebration. Especially with the bands we’ve had who are friends and every band has been so great to listen too every night.

Cool, and how are the Young Machete songs going down, and how are they fitting into the set? Oh, good, it’s interesting actually because certain songs that we would have assumed would be more well received maybe haven’t been and songs that we didn’t think we’d bother playing we’ve wound up playing and people have been cheering because they knew the song. So that’s been an interesting aspect of it, but, yeah, it’s all been positive.

Ok, so you’re a band who when they tour tours intensively, so when you’re playing the same songs every night do you notice them changing from the record, and have there been any off of Young Machete’s that have taken a surprising direction? Well as far as noticing the songs changing what I’ve notice is specific to the rhythm section. Mark and I tend to communicate on that level where it’s a fluctuation of energy in certain parts. For example maybe on certain parts the idea on the record was to have a certain part a little bit more mellow or a little more intense and live we’ll try and make it a bit more obscure in some ways, that might be just a slight rhythm change or a slight accent or maybe we’ll play, like on Giant Swan imparticular there are parts that we really changed the strain in that song.

Interesting, ok so you’re know for having complex song structures and steering away from the normal straight up stuff. With that in mind do you guys have to be in a certain headspace to write, or do you write constantly, on the road for example? Well for me the way I write I cant specifically, well I mean I’ll record little ideas down sometimes, but I don’t make an effort to write out songs whilst on the road, but I definitely come up with ideas that I want to try later. That’s kind of the extent of the writing that I get done on the road.

Your shows are super intense, and when you toured Piano Island you played a show in London with Pretty Girls Make Graves… Jordan was at the merch stand selling t-shirts, calmest man in the world, and 15mins later onstage a man possessed.. so how do you get that energy up every night and do you have any live inspirations? Well as for the inspiration part I’m not sure… as for the energy I mean we’re just up there having fun, and when its fun you just get up there. I mean for me personally there’s no need to put anything on to make it more exciting or whatever… I mean for me I don’t feel like I have to have a performance… to jump around or not jump around, I mean sometimes I feel like making what I play be as intense as possible but not nessicarily thrash around and hype the visual aspect, and other times I’m don’t even care about what im playing and just want to thrash about. It’s just about keeping it fun, and it’s so natural for us to do what we do, so you don’t need to get into any special mindset to get up on stage.

Ok, going back through the press from Crimes and through to Young Machetes and there seems like there is this perception that Crimes was more of an extroverted record, and that the themes and politics of the record were more world view base, whereas Young Machetes is seen as a more intense personal record. Is that a fair thing to say and is that something that you feel ties in with the “dollars and cents” personal politics Jordan has been talking about in interviews? Or do you feel that there’s elements of both in both records and it’s the times and not the themes that have changed? Well, I don’t think that that’s entirely accurate, and that’s because the lyrics have always been about a multitude of things, and that operate at the level of a personal experience and that are more social commentary. The only real difference between Crimes and Young Machete’s is that we were more outspoken about that this is what this records about, and I think that people used that to latch onto the fact that that was what Crimes was about, and as we weren’t as outspoken with Young Machetes saying that this album is about the same thing again that people just assume it isn’t. But we always write about a multitude of topics which to me have always been pretty consistent . So I guess the common perception is that that record (rimes) was an extrovert record because we said it was and made noise about it but it also had personal themes as well.

Cool. I also wanted to ask about the artwork because that was quite a departure for you guys as well as young Machetes is the first time you’ve moved away from the painted style artwork. Yeah, well definitely, I mean that was the first time that we’d incorporated a definite human and also there are pictures of us within the packaging, and I think that was just a desire to try something new and to my mind it came off really well. Which is really important because its another aspect of tying up what the record is about, because, you know I’ve bought records purely based on the cover, and something about that cover has told me how that record was going to sound. Sometimes rightly sometimes wrongly, but you know, it’s important from our point of view that we think it relates that.

Finally, obviously you were working with Guy Picciotto and I just wondered how easy it was to fall into that working relationship with someone who you admire so much and what kind of energy he bought to the table? Well Guy is a special person in the fact that he is so creative and so he brings in a lot of ideas and a lot of ideas flow around him. He just made it fun…and he’s different to John (Goodmanson) because John is an engineer so he’s much more concerned with that…not that Guy’s not concerned, but you know they are different sides to the same coin and both aid different aspects of the process. It was just an incredible, fun experience.


Written by Jonathan

June 28, 2008 at 10:38 pm

One Response

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  1. Hi, Look at the pictures of my new emo hair style


    October 24, 2008 at 11:48 pm

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