INTERVIEW: The Dull Blue Lights

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We’re doing great! Can’t keep the pen off the page over here. We’ve been working, writing, performing. Busy, busy, busy, as we always are.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “A Deeper Blue”?

“A Deeper Blue” refers to the old myth that, inside of you, blood is blue until it’s exposed to oxygen, which turns it red. Yes, a quick internet search reveals this to be thoroughly untrue, but it’s still a pretty metaphor. Todd, who wrote the tune, saw this as a parallel with art. It’s when the organic feeling that you’re trying to tap into by creating morphs into something new and beautiful through expression.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

“A Deeper Blue” came together as a series of sketches in Todd’s journal. But for Todd, words always come first. So let’s let him take this one from here.

Observing people is so funny.  Everyone’s caught up in a routine. It’s a scary thing. I think it’s synonymous with being brain dead. While others … You’re just there trying to take it all in and make sense of it all, and next to you a woman sings to herself in French, enjoying the comfort of her sketchbook while the rest of the world is in a tizzy. Odd! Sometimes the song just writes itself in front of you.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Hopefully, sooner or later. We’ve been throwing around ideas, but nothing’s really stuck yet. This record also has nine other songs to potentially put to video, so inspiration’s bound to hit eventually.

The single comes off your upcoming self-titled album – why did you decide to name the record after the band?

We put this record to tape almost two years ago, and in that time, we’ve never really bothered to give it a name. One just never jumped out at us. Records we’ve done in the past or with other bands have had a theme or common thread to all the songs that would yield a name somehow, but the only common thread we could find here was that all the songs were on the same record. We’ve been casually calling it “the record” (note: no capital letters) since we started writing for it, and briefly toyed with the idea of leaving it untitled. But that seemed a little risky, so we did the next best thing and named it after ourselves.

How was the recording and writing process?

Beautiful. We’d written a few songs before taking a little break from playing together. During our hiatus, if you want to call it that, we all had mini epiphanies that changed our ideas about the kind of band we wanted to be. So after some time off, getting back together with the same guys and creating something brand new to our ears, it was refreshing, very cathartic. We got rid of barriers, genres, labels, anything that might have led to us putting ourselves in a box. We had a lot to say and didn’t want to pin ourselves down with categorization. The recording process was pretty much the same thing, but in a fraction of the time, and with an amazing producer.

What was it like to work with Andrija Tokic and how did that relationship develop?

It was all very natural. We reached out to him when we were looking for a home to create, and it seemed like he could help us break down and start something new. We had five days in the Bomb Shelter, Andrija’s studio, to get through ten tracks. We were pals from the second we walked in. We did something like ten hours of live tracking that first day, and that set a pattern for the rest of the week. It was Andrija’s energetic zeal that woke us up every morning and pushed us straight through the last hours of each day. (The gallons of espresso didn’t hurt. Thanks, Max!) And on top of that, he had some of the best ideas that made the songs come to life.

How much did he influence the album?

A whole hell of a lot. It would not be the same record without his hands on the board.  And his ideas were fire. The way Andrija presents an idea to you gets you excited even if you can’t hear it in your head just yet, and you can probably hear a lot of that excitement on the record. That’s his style. He’s got this infectious energy to him. He could probably change the sound of a record just by standing in the live room while it’s being cut. At least, that’s the effect he had on us. But he can also work some serious magic in the booth.

How much did Nashville influence the writing of this album?

Since we had so little time at the Bomb Shelter, we more or less locked ourselves in the studio for the week, and consequently didn’t get out into the city while we were recording. But that place still got to us. After 12-hour days in the studio, we unwound over whiskey on our buddy’s porch. (Another round of thanks to Taylor.) It was profoundly comfortable, both at the studio and on the porch, surrounded by Nashville, but with no distractions. It put us mentally exactly where we needed to be. We were there to work and we were going to leave when it was done, but we were going to have a little fun along the way.

You brought a wide range of influences into this album – how did you get to balance them together?

Mostly luck. Beyond that, it’s a matter of following your instincts. When we’re writing or recording, everyone is welcome to bring anything to the table, and it can come from anywhere at all. How about an African rhythm in this doowop tune? Yeah, sounds cool. What about this steel guitar lick? Think it’ll work in that reggae number? Sure, throw it in there. But if something sticks out, you bet at least one of the five of us is gonna say something about it. It’s about listening to the song, letting it go where it wants to go, and not pushing it into oddly-shaped corners where it doesn’t fit.

P.S. We know we talked a big game above about not heeding genres, styles, labels, all that, but there’s a difference between working in a framework and being trapped in one.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Since Todd is typically the catalyst for songwriting in this band, let’s let him take this one.

Writing isn’t something I think about. It’s something that just happens. I don’t plan out writing songs. It’s what I need to do to organize my brain, which is like one of those electron models that kids see on bad VHS movies in science class, you know? (Hi, rest of the band here. We kind of remember those.) It’s tough to put the insanity into form. Did I answer the question? (Hey, rest of the band again. Close enough, buddy.)

Any plans to hit the road?

Absolutely. We’re working on a run for later this summer, and we’ve got a few other things around then that we might not be able to talk about yet, so let’s leave that mystery unpacked for now. Stay tuned, and check out our website for upcoming dates.

What else is happening next in The Dull Blue Lights’ world?

While we’ve been working on getting this record out, we’ve also been putting finishing touches on some new tunes for a little concept-ish EP. It’s been a whole new kind of ride, and we’re trying to get into a studio with that stuff soon. Until then, we just want to keep playing shows and having all the fun we can.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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