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INTERVIEW: The Blackmail Seduction

How would you classify your music?

That’s always been a tough one to answer.  We know what we like and who we wish we sounded more like, but it can sometimes be tough to listen objectively – it’s rock, alternative, indie maybe…maybe a hint of power pop or punk, but it can be pretty chill, too, in just the right amount.  We like to think there are elements of Cheap Trick or Tom Petty in there, probably Ryan Adams, and we’ve heard a few reviewers call out Green Day and QOTSA too.  Variety is cool so we also appreciate bands that really vary their material on the same album, like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but we don’t pretend to say we sound like those bands.

You’re from Minneapolis and Los Angeles at the same time, how do you make the writing and recording process work?

A lot of frequent flyer miles! The world is a really small place these days, so a few states can’t stop the magic.  We can share ideas online for a while and see what gels, but at some point there is no substitute for sitting down in the same room to hash out ideas.  Troy is really a wizard when it comes to production and song development; you’d be amazed to hear what he can do with a demo idea.  Everything is recorded in L.A., and everyone that we’ve been fortunate enough to work with is really, really good at what they do.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

I think our fans get it already, and we’re really thankful for that. Just take some time to listen, preferably without distraction and on a good system or, better yet, good headphones.  Also, the mixing and mastering that Keith did for us really shines through under those conditions.

Guitars and more guitars. This record is certainly guitar-driven in the best possible way. How do you guys split the guitar playing duties?

It’s simple really; Troy plays pretty much everything that requires any level of skill.  Most of the tastiness you hear there is Troy.  Jess writes a lot on guitar, and plays some straight-ahead bits, but only when Troy lets him (something like that anyway!)

The drum and bass tracks are about a musical as we’ve heard on a rock release, where did you find those guys?

Blair and Mike are absolute pros and really cool dudes to work with. Troy had worked with both of them in the past and when we kicked this thing off in 2012 or so, it all came together for us.  And you’re right; they just know exactly what to play at just the right time.  Also, this round we brought in our friend Alex to play piano on a couple of tracks, which added another dimension to the overall sound.  Everyone has a lot going on, so it’s really cool that everyone keeps coming back together.

What’s the story behind the cover art for the new record?

We didn’t have any set ideas for what we wanted, but when we saw the photo we knew it would be a hit.  Our friend Yuri shot the photo.  There is just such a cool vibe from the photo – the lines, all of it.  It also has a subtle tie-in with our first cover, but we will leave that to fans to discover.  We also enlisted Holly again for graphic design work and it all turned out perfectly.

Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

Um, no. You can’t choose between children! “Dead Girl” holds a special place for Jess since his sons, Julian and Jaden, stopped by and added some guitar to the mix.

How have you evolved as an artist since your last record?

The Blackmail Seduction II will actually be released five years to the day after our debut, so hopefully we’ve evolved at least a little bit.  The beauty of being an independent artist is that we can write, record, and produce for ourselves.  It is really nice when other people “get it” and dig your work, but that is secondary.  Some of the songs on the new record are put together a bit better, probably because we spent more time on writing and pre-production than we did for our first record.

We read that you’ve landed a few major sync placements; can you tell us about those?

Yeah, it’s pretty cool to hear your tunes on TV or wherever.  The biggest so far would be a song from our first album on CSI, and we just had a song on Animal Kingdom on TNT (not Animal Planet, although we’d take that too).  There’s no question that it’s pretty tough to keep the dream alive with album sales alone, so any respectable way to fuel the engine is a good thing.

What’s next for you?

Priority one for us right now is getting the word out about the new album, The Blackmail Seduction II.  We are really proud of it and want people to hear what we’ve been up to. Thanks for the questions!

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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