INTERVIEW - Long Island, NY's very own Blameshift are certainly making a name for themselves and not slowing down at any time soon. The band just released their newest record, Secrets , and I got a chance to talk with lead vocalist Jenny Mann about what it was like to create the record, the difference between the songs on Secrets and their first EP Black Rose , and how the band came to be.
How did Blameshift first come together? How long have you been around?
We’ve been around for about seven years. We got together kind of randomly. Our current guitarist and my former drummer were looking to start a band. They were looking for a singer, and to move into an apartment together. At the house across the street from my house, they actually rented out the basement to different people. They went to that house. I had never met them before, and they were looking to rent out that basement. I had never been in a band at that point. I got their number, but I wasn’t really sure. I was thinking “I don’t know if I want to just call some random people and say ‘hey! I got your number from some random guy,” you know? I went to audition, and I’ve been doing this ever since. It worked out.
Where does the album name “Secrets” come from?
It goes off of the title track. That was one of the first songs that we ever wrote on the album. I feel like the title of the album and the title of the song have two different meanings to me. This album for me is everything that I’ve wanted to say on other albums. It means everything. As a singer and songwriter, you have all of these thoughts in your head of what you want to say, but actually trying to get it out and making them make sense is a whole different story. So, to me, this is my whole book of secrets. Everything that I’ve wanted to say about things that are going on in my life. This album really puts it all together for the listener. Every song is a personal story from my life.
What was it like producing the album with producer Erik Ron (VersaEmerge, Good Charlotte, Panic! At The Disco)? What did he bring to the table?
This is our second album with him, actually! We did an EP with him about two or three years ago. He’s out in North Hollywood, and we’re from New York, so the whole experience of just going out there was awesome. We hit it off with Erik right off the bat. He’s worked with John Feldmann. Erik was working on The Used album, making all of the digital beats for songs like “The Bird and The Worm”. He wrote those parts and made those loops. To work with him was so crazy because I loved things that he worked on. He’s the most humble guy. When we met him, we all kind of realized that he was the missing puzzle piece. He is a member of our band. He always will be. When we’re stuck on a part, he’s like another band member, where he’ll go “Oh let’s try this!” He’s not just someone who records the song that you write. He really cares about his bands, which is something that I hadn’t seen up until that point in a producer. He feels like if it’s not good enough, it’s a reflection on him, because he tries to make everything perfect, which is pretty awesome.
How was the writing on this record different from any kind of writing and recording you did on the Black Rose EP?
It was two years later. With every band, there’s of course growth and maturity. On the Black Rose EP, I was much more general in my songwriting, with writing about things that other people could relate to, but in a general way. On “Secrets”, it’s a lot more of “This happened to me, so I’m writing a song about it”. On these songs, you can tell exactly what it was about. It’s more specific to things that happened over those two to three years in my life and our band’s life. To me, it’s more personal. I think people are going to connect to it more because you can tell it’s real. It’s definitely different; it’s more mature. A lot has happened in the past two to three years.
What made the band decide to go the crowd-funding way of releasing this album?
Initially, in order to do the Black Rose EP, we did a KickStarter. We were familiar with the whole crowd-funding thing to begin with. Back when we did the KickStarter, that was back when you had to be invited to use KickStarter. That was as much as we had done in terms of crowd-funding, and we were really thankful for that. When we went to do this album, and when we talked about releasing it, we talked about different ways to do it and raise awareness about it. Our manager suggested doing a pre-order through Pledge. I didn’t know that you could even do that, at the time. What we learned about Pledge, which is really cool for other artists, is that you can set up a pre-order through Pledge Music. Let’s say you go on and pre-order the album. It’s counts twice towards our first-week’s sales, which is very important for a band like us. For every person that pre-orders it, it counts two times. We’re doing our pre-order for a month and a half. The album comes out November 5. That was a major reason we decided to do it; we are trying to chart on Billboard Heatseekers. And it doesn’t really take too much, either. It isn’t as big of a number as you’d think to chart; it’s just getting the fans to do it in advance. It’s been really cool! We’re not saying “hey, give us money for a fundraiser” or anything like that. We’re saying “you’re going to order the album anyway, so go ahead and do it in advance and it’ll help us out so much”.
What kind of musical influences played into the recording of this album?
We all have our few bands that we really like collectively as far as style. We’re all big The Used fans. I’m a huge Taking Back Sunday fan. We love the Yellowcard record that recently came out. There’s a bunch of albums that we all love. We brought a lot of those to Erik and said what we wanted to do. Obviously, you’re not going to hear our record and go “That sounds like Yellowcard” or anything else. But it’s like that genre of pop-rock, really catchy music. It’s fun, and not taking ourselves too seriously. We have a couple of heavier songs too! We released a single called “Let Go”, and it’s more of a modern rock radio song. That’s our first song that ever went to radio, which is really exciting. It did well, and it’s still doing well. A lot of the other songs are pop-punk, high energy and fun. There a lot of albums that we have liked recently where we said “let’s try and go that direction”, and then we ended up just doing whatever we do.
What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
For me, personally, I’d like to send a really positive message to fans. My goal every night is to let our fans know that we are a family. When you come to one of our shows, I’ll personally come up to you and say hello and thank you, and let you know how much I appreciate you. We do that as a band. That’s always been our M.O.; we couldn’t do this without our fans. They spend their hard earned money to come out to our show, buy our albums, and stuff like that. For me, it’s rewarding to be able to meet the fans and be personal with them, whether on Facebook, Twitter or anything like that. It’s more of a family than being on a pedestal. To me, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about music, family, and friendships.
What does music mean to you?
Music means everything to me. I know that’s generic. I ‘m not sure how much you know about our band, but we’re a full time touring band. We’ve been this way for years. I mean, it is a constant struggle being in a touring rock band, and being on the road away from home all the time, but to me, at the end of the day, I get to get up on stage. I get to play for people. I get to write songs that not only mean something to me, but will connect to other people in ways that only music can. Music is my everything, and the reason that I get up in the morning. I wouldn’t be able to do anything besides music. I’ve finally come to the reality that I know my family and society would like me to have a regular life and a regular job, but I feel like this is the right thing for me. It’s taken me years to accept it, because it’s not the easiest path you can take. But when it kind of hits you, it’s the only thing you can do at that point.
What are the future plans for Blameshift?
Our new album will officially be out on November 5th (it’s out today, so pick up your copy now!) We are also going to be releasing our video for “Secrets” which we shot a few weeks ago in Kentucky. We shot it in an abandoned house on the Bourbon trail, which was really cool! I can’t wait to finally have everyone see it. And then, touring for the rest of the year and all of next year! We’re always on the road, so we’ll be in someone’s hometown very soon!
The band's newest record, Secrets, is available now.
Check out more from Blameshift at www.facebook.com/blameshift
This has been another shameless promotion.