Friday, November 20, 2009

Interview: The Bloodsugars

The Bloodsugars' stellar debut album, I Can't Go On, I'll Go On was released this week on Engine Room Recordings. After their short Midwest tour last week, including a great show in Cincinnati, singer/guitarist Jason Rabinowitz was able to take some time to answer some questions about the creative process and theme of the new album, some of their new favorite bands and the their new-found love for Bobby McFerrin.

Atlas and the Anchor: My favorite song on I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On is “Sleep Well”. What is your favorite song on the record and why?

Jason Rabinowitz: Honestly, it changes from time to time. Lately my favorite song off the record is Happiness. I love how it came out. It’s also a simple and sincere song that feels emotionally real to me.

AA: It has been written that you have been influenced by a lot of great bands but who do you say your influences are, especially for the new album?

Jason: That is also a long answer. Truly we all thrive on listening to pretty much as diverse a musical banquet as possible. I’d say our influences for this record would range from Pointer Sisters/The Time/Hall and Oates/synth-pop way of doing business to a more electro Phoenix-Alphabetical-era/Postal Service/Calvin Harris thing. All the old-gold standards Bowie/Beatles/Troggs/Faces. Maybe throw in some Dirty South, lace it with the funk…put that in your pipe and smoke away??

AA: The lyrics bite of tragedy but the music is upbeat and joyous. Does it help the sting of playing the songs night after night and/or what is the theme of the record?

Jason: Yes, that I’d say is an accurate read. The album was written and recorded while a very close, immediate family member of mine was going through cancer treatment. It was an utterly brutal year. It changed our lives forever. To risk sounding pedantic, life is full of shit like this. There is always something to harsh an otherwise mellow time. These peaks and valleys...One of the ways I and the guys in this band cope is through celebration. It’s a celebration, bitches…Gotta persevere, gotta push through and enjoy. This is sort of the undefined, loose, philosophy in this record.

AA: I remember hearing “Falling Makes You Blue” on your WOXY Lounge Act performance from 2008 and I love the changes the song took on with the additional vocals from Olga Bell. Was that a way of making an older song feel new again? Please explain the creative process for that song.

Jason: Thanks! “Falling Makes You Blue” started as an acoustic demo with three teeny guitar lines that intertwined. We used to play it with literally all 3 guys at the keyboards, Kenneth would play a drum patch on the keys. Then we figured it would be really cool if he could have a loop and actually play the drums and do his thing. It went through another transformation when we recorded it. Our producer, Bill Moriarty heard something none of us had yet, which was bass…(amazing case for working with a producer, btw “This song needs something… what could it beeeee…..” “How bout bass?” “REVOLUTIONARY! I LOVE IT!”) Having Bell sing on it was fantastic because I actually always heard the song as a boy girl duet. We just usually have Brendan sing like a girl. As for making a song feel new, that’s something I struggle with from time to time. I want to constantly re-invent things and need to be reminded that people might like the songs as they are and need to hear them a couple of times that way before they’re re-invented. So, in general, now after recording the record we have some arrangements I think we can live with for some time.

AA: I first heard of The Bloodsugars when I saw you live for the first time and I was hooked. You are playing in Cincinnati again for the third time this year, do you enjoy playing here and what do you guys have planned for the tour to support the new record?

Jason: We love playing in Cincinnati about as much as playing a hometown show. It was great the first time playing there, and it keeps getting better and better. The people are fantastic, the scene is real. It’s just freakin great! We should be back in a few months, around late January. The album comes out on Nov 17th, 2009. We’re having a big LP release party in NYC at The Studio At Webster Hall on Sat 11/21 with our good friends Savoir Adore and Project Jenny Project Jan. We’re also putting together a little orchestra of sorts to play onstage w/ us, made up of some of our friends that played on the record. Kyle Resnick, who tours w/ The National, Ben Lanz, who plays w/ Beirut, Colette Alexander (Rilo Kiley, Jens Lenkman, Rachel Yamagata), and Alicia Jo Rabins (Golem, Girls In Trouble), among others.. There will be a special on the album on through this week.

AA: What bands would you like to collaborate with or tour with?

Jason: We really love Tigercity, and Francis And The Lights. It’d be pretty awesome to tour with either of those guys. VHS or Beta would be a pretty amazing tour too, I think. Wow, so many bands, now that I think of it. There is so much great music out there now.

AA: What have you guys been listening to in the tour van?

Jason: Lots of shuffle. We’re also fond of Car Talk, Science Podcasts, and some great mixes my lady made us. But I think the golden find of this tour is a cassette collaboration by Jack Nicholson and Bobby McFerrin. Jack reads Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories”, and Bobby “boops” and “do-wee’s and makes this really otherwise trippy background music. The pace is slow and psychedelic. It’s pretty freakin amazing!

AA: Are any of you working on a side or solo project and/or were you in any bands of note before the Bloodsugars?
Jason: We all do all sorts of things. Matt does his own solo thing under the moniker Friday Nites, Kenneth moonlights as the drummer for Elysian Fields.

AA: What one older and one current song do you wish you would’ve written yourself?

Jason: I was honestly listening to “American Boy” the other day and I absolutely had the thought “I wish I wrote this song” verbatim so there’s that one. As for an older song, there really are SO MANY! The one that’s coming to mind is “Through The Night” by Cindy Lauper. Although maybe I’d pick like “Borderline” or something cause the royalties would be pretty ridiculous! NO NO! “Sweet Dreams” by The Eurythmics. That song is utterly breathtaking.

AA: Not that you would but if you had to replace yourself in the band with someone, who would you choose?

Jason: Wow, that’s a tough question. This is fantasy right, so I could say Prince, right??

Download "Light At The End Of The Tunnel":

Read the Atlas and the Anchor review of I Can't Go On, I'll Go On here:


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