Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Inquisition: 051.Blueneck

1. How did you came up with the name of the band?

Duncan: We’ve given so many bullshit answers to this question that I forget if we have ever said the real reason… basically it’s a reference to a medical condition in my neck, head and skull. I have an extra set of veins/blood vessels – it gives my neck a slightly blue tinge…and so at school, the kids used to tease me by calling me ‘blueneck’.

2. Do you have a standard procedure of creating a song? Do you just jam around or is there a main riff and the track is build up on it?

Duncan: I tend to demo all ideas with a the main instruments and a basic programmed drum section and then send over to Ben and Rich to see if they have ideas to add to it. Usually Rich will come up with something exciting which I can then take into the studio, start work on properly with Mat Sampson (our producer) , then Rich and Ben come on in and we all get the job finished. simple as that.

3. What are your influences and what kind of music do you hear when you are at home?

Rich: Today I’m listening to the new Carlos Cipa record, Flaming Lips (The Terror) and Talk Talk (Laughing Stock). If you can combine an interesting musical arrangement with melody and some lyrics that feel like they are about something heartfelt, then I’m happy.  As for influences, I suppose it’s hard to pin them down - all sorts of rock, folk, alt-country, metal, electronica, soundtrack, prog and post rock. Although I guess my formative years are the 80s and 90s.
Duncan: Like Rich, I'm heavily influenced by the period I grew up in. SO Depeche Mode, Howard Jones and especially Tears For Fears. In latter years I tend to be influenced by a vast array of different artists from different genres. The main thing that each will have in common would be a strong melodic presence.

4. Which is the one album you can't live without?

Rich: Copper Blue by Sugar. I’m listening to it right now (thanks for reminding me) and it’s consistently been my favourite record since I heard it for the first time in 1992. It’s just a perfect blast of melody, power and emotion and it never, ever fails to energise me.

Duncan: Theres so many albums that I love and listen to over and over. Kid A, Nevermind, Wowee Zowee, …the list could be endless…I guess if I HAD to choose then it’d be between Smashing Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream or Tears For Fears ‘Songs From The Big Chair’. Siamese Dream is just gut wrenchingly heartbreaking whereas I think that Songs From The Big Chair is a vastly underrated record just because of the era that it was released.

5. What's the first record you've ever bought?

Duncan: INXS – Kick. I actually bought this again recently on vinyl …mainly for nostalgic reasons, but I was really surprised to discover that this is still an amazing album…the production on it is amazing – and I'm not ashamed to admit even had a slight influence on some of the production techniques on King Nine.

Rich:  That’s a difficult one. I know the first single that I owned – that was ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home’ by Paul Young. I got it free with a pair of school shoes.  As for my first album, I think it was Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’. I remember playing it on my ghetto blaster, swinging on a swing and drinking orangeade. I was a pretty cool kid!

6. Name a band that you would like to share the stage or tour with?

Rich: AC/DC. Not sure how their crowd would react (or ours, come to think about it) but I’d be having fun. 

Duncan: I'd probably also pick a band that we wouldn’t necessarily fit with music wise. But I think it would be a lot of fun to hang out with The Foo Fighters…they seem like such nice , down to earth guys. Me and Rich have both been watching their documentary series that is currently airing..they come across as really good guys…. So yeah..I’d pick them….or One Direction.

7. Did the internet and specially the blogs helped to spread your music around the world? Name a place (country) that you were surprised to know your music has reached to?

Rich: Without that internet word of mouth we probably would never have had the level of exposure and support we’ve ended up receiving. When we check Twitter and YouTube it’s crazy how the music (particularly our song ‘Lilitu’) is spreading virally and getting a reaction in places – for example - like Japan, China, South America or Iran.  I find it hard to get my head around it, for sure. We feel hugely privileged and lucky to have received this level of attention and interest, but sometimes it doesn’t feel real. That’s why playing live can be so important – you get somewhat of a sense of that connection.

Duncan: Like Rich says, without blogs and filesharing, Blueneck would never have got the audience that we currently have now…we’d still be playing our home town…well…we’d have given up more likely. We’ve been lucky..that's for sure.

8. Do you support the idea of bandcamp where fans can decide the price or services like spotify?

Rich: Bandcamp is fine – we get to have a direct relationship with the people who like our music. With streaming services like Spotify I’m really quite torn. Firstly, I’m a Spotify subscriber and you can’t deny what a great service it is to a fan. I’ve found, enjoyed and shared so much music I never would have heard in other circumstances. On the other hand, I’m very aware of how little money is going to the artists as a result. Sure, I suppose the argument is that for those bands the business model needs to change – they need to adapt to try and recoup money via touring, merch etc instead. The way I justify it to myself is if I find an album I love on Spotify then I buy it on vinyl. But people, and I include myself in this, have to realise that without some form of money heading back to the bands then those bands will fall apart. So I guess there’s a responsibility on the bands to try and find ways of funding themselves that offer a good deal to their fans, and for the fans to fund what they love.

Duncan: Artists get so little money from Spotify its unbelievable…i'm not sure that fans realise just how little the artist gets. Like Rich says, we just have to hope that if someone REALLY likes what they hear then they may support the band by buying the physical release or going to see them live…but I think it’s a low percentage. Spotify certainly isn’t going to contribute to the longevity of bands such as Blueneck.
Bandcamp on the other hand is amazing….the complete opposite of Spotify to some extent. We get so much more support from bandcamp listeners than the likes of Spotify….its basically like a really cool online community that want to help out the bands they love . It’s a brilliant site and I’d recommend any band to use it.

9. Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Rich: Still making music, but probably slightly more tired looking.  

Duncan: 5 years is a long time..I've no idea. We have no real plans at this point…which is kinda the first time that that’s happened with Blueneck for quite some time.  Its kinda nice.

10. Is the artwork of an album important nowadays in the digital era?

Rich: It is for us, although I’m not sure if that’s a relic of our upbringing or something that’s a universal fact these days. We love the process of creating the album art – it’s another way to express yourself artistically, and that process is even more gratifying when you have someone as talented as Lasse Hoille (who worked with us for the King Nine photography) to help.

11. What is your favorite album cover?

Rich: Ah man, that’s a headscratcher.  It’s impossible to choose. So I’ll just say the one I saw this morning that made me laugh – ‘The Best of Lightning Hopkins’. He looks like such a badass on that album cover, even though it’s just a photo on a cheaply-made (probably digital-only) cover.

Duncan: I always used to draw the cover for Def Leppard’s Hysteria when I was in artclass at school…it’s the first album cover that springs to mind…so maybe I’ll go with that….Or possibly Wish You Were Here….nah…lets go with Def Leppard. I trust you are going to put a photo of that cover next to this article?

12. It seems that a lot of people are turning on vinyl again. Why do you think that is and which is your preferable media format?

Rich: I think it's for a number of reasons. A part of my slightly cynical mind says there’s bound to be a hipster element to it… It’s a trend like any other and vinyl’s popularity will flux up and down as the years pass. However, saying that I think the move to digital formats has provoked an opposite reaction from the fans – often fans are collectors and want to “own” the album and physically store it as part of a collection. It brings a different perspective to the owning and playing of music which is so much more pleasurable. I guess that’s how I feel about it, and certainly I don’t feel a Blueneck album is completed until I hold the finished vinyl in my hands.

Duncan: Vinyl is simply a much more enjoyable listening experience all round. From being able to hold the artwork in your head, to the process of getting up and turning the side over….you have to actually sit there and listen, as opposed to being distracted by the world around you (if you're listening to digital files whilst walking around a city for example).I think its just ….hmm…more romantic.?!?!

13. What's the most vivid story or moment as a band?

Rich: The one that immediately springs to mind is when a drunken insane German kickboxing soldier did the splits at the front of the stage at a Frankfurt shows. We were too scared to ask him to stop. The band we were supporting were kind enough to phone the police… After we played. Nice.

Duncan: Ha ha….I remember that he walked in during our soundcheck, and I looked over towards the stage and could see that Rich was very uncomfortable talking to this huge (obviously drunk) guy…I walked over and could hear that this guy was demanding that he be allowed to play Rich’s guitar… Rich politely tried to decline , which only enraged the soldier – who proceeded to tell us that his muscles were made of ice (?!)…. He calmed down…but then later got worse during our show. As Rich says, he was doing the splits in front of us and also shouting at us that we were ‘shitesters’ and that we are not welcome back to Frankfurt ever again. We’ve actually never been back to Frankfurt. Which is a coincidence. :)

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