The Blues Control Interview
VIA is gearing up to bring us yet another fantastic offering in terms of music programming here in Pittsburgh. They’ve departed from their newly-crowned 6119 space to the familiar walls of Gooskis for an evening to bring us none other than Blues Control, a PA-based, somewhat unclassifiable but remarkably unique band who produces a mixture of exotic and classical sounds. Whether or not you’ve been a fan or years or they’re new to you, there’s something to note about Blues Control, whose recent release Valley Tangents has been landing on many “best of 2012” album lists. Take a peek at this vid, which had the indie blogosphere buzzing upon its release, and then read our little chat with the folks from Blues Control after the jump.
Kymbo Slice: Is this your first time playing in Pittsburgh? What was your last gig like here?
Russ: We’ve played in Pittsburgh twice – once at Roboto in 2008, and again at Garfield Artworks in 2009. That show was with Puffy Areolas and Centipede E’est. It was fun, but Manny shut it down early because he was doing two shows in one night. The afterparty made up for it though.
Lea: I was born in Monroeville so I will always have a soft spot for Pittsburgh, even though my family moved to Virginia when I was seven.
KS: Your latest release, Valley Tangents, marks a notable shift in your aesthetic to a more restrained sound. What do you attribute to this evolution in your sound?
Russ: It’s probably because we’ve been listening to mellower music in general, particularly jazz. But we still listen to rock and all the ideas we’ve been working on since the beginning are still there. This record is actually closest to our original concept for Blues Control, which was “piano rock.”
KS: How has moving to the Lehigh Valley affected your relationship as band mates and how has it impacted this latest release?
Russ: Living here is less stressful, which has been good for our relationship in general. That’s not to say that this area is perfect, but it’s much better for us right now. Also, now we have a practice space that’s comfortable, where we can play at any time, and consequently it’s been easier to stay focused. With this record we were able to work on the arrangements and production in ways we didn’t have the luxury of doing before. In the past, writing and recording was a little more rushed.
KS: What was it like to collaborate with Laraaji as an entry in RVNG Intl.’s FRKWYS series?
Russ: It was fun and inspiring, especially considering how long we had been fans of Laraaji before we were asked to do a FRKWYS record. I’m really thankful that there was an immediate musical chemistry, and because of that record we recently toured in Europe with Laraaji, which was a trip.
KS: What is your most memorable gig to-date?
Russ: It’s hard to pick one, but playing for third graders in Oakland was kind of intimidating. They were listening from a very different perspective than most audiences, and I was afraid they may not like our music, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. We also played a birthday party a few years ago at Rock Star Bar in Brooklyn, with Clockcleaner, and the owner (Rocky) got angry and kicked everybody out after it got sloppy and juvenile.
Lea: The Q&A session with the third graders was funny. They would raise their hands and ask things like, “Do you have a cell phone?”, “What’s your favorite animal?”, “Are you nervous right now?”
KS: What other bands are you currently listening to? Have you seen anyone recently worth noting?
Russ: We just got the new Kilslug 11″, which is great. As far as shows go, the best I’ve seen recently was Michael Chapman in Belgium.
If you’d like to see a show of note, then Blues Control is for you. This event takes place at Gooskis in Polish Hill. Doors at 9. $8 cover. Openers include locals Fogged Out and Gangwish.