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am Lindsay (Stylus): When I first heard your band, I have to admit, it wasn’t at all like most bands I listen to (a lot of people I know find it very hard to listen to). I think because of the radicalism, I was instantly attracted to The Adultery Is Ripe. Is that what your music is all about, shocking a listener and bringing another element into their musical tastes, or is there another vision you had when you began making music?
Jordan Billie: We’ve never written with the intent of shocking anyone. I think it’s dangerous to have an audience in mind when writing music together. Our writing process is a very personal, yet collective experience between the five of us that we’re lucky enough to share with others. No one person is gonna have the same reaction to our music, so writing with the listener in mind is a pretty meaningless approach.
STYLUS: You’ve been receiving a lot of hype over here in the UK and in the US – how have you been dealing with it?
JB: We’re in a van all year round, so we’re a bit disconnected. I know that we’re hyped up because people keep telling us thatthere’s a lot of hype around us, but other than the occasional review or interview that I’ll check out, I don’t really see it. It’s nice, though, that people seem to be reacting to the record in some way, shape or form.
STYLUS: Were you able to do more with this record with Ross Robinson and BMG behind you?
JB: We were able to take six months to write the record and another two to record it. It allowed us the opportunity to explore every idea that we had fully. So, yeah.
STYLUS: What is it like working with “nu-metal svengali” Ross Robinson? Are you fans of any of the bands he has produced in the past? What made you decide to work with him?
JB: We decided to work with him after a long process of talking and debating amongst ourselves and with him. Once we established a level of trust with him, once we were convinced that he wasn’t going to try to mold us into something awful, we went ahead and said yes. Maintaining complete control over our music was the major issue at hand. The recording process was quite relaxed, supportive, fun. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
STYLUS: Signed to a BMG label, there must be some expectations. You stuck with your vision with Burn Piano Island, Burn, but was there much pressure to lean a little towards the mainstream?
JB: There wasn’t any pressure whatsoever. We didn’t putthat kind of pressure on ourselves nor did the label try to sway us in any way.
STYLUS: How do you feel the new album ranks up against your first two? I feel that it is your most exciting record so far because it seems to be a little more focused and refined. What reactions have you been receiving?
JB: I think it’s a natural progression from the last record. To me, it seems like kind of a hybrid between the first two, bringing together the stripped down, catchier parts of Adultery and the crazier, more complex parts of March On. We’re all really happy with how it turned out. My only criticism looking at it now is that some of the songs are a little long winded.
STYLUS: You released “Ambulance Vs. Ambulance” as a single. Was that always going to be a single? Was it strange releasing a CD single the way Christina Aguilera does? Here in the UK, it’s normally a tool for getting radio play and not exactly the format of a typical Blood Brothers release.
JB: No, it just kind of came out that way. We wanted to have a single, the first three releases we did were singles, so the format isn’t foreign to us at all. I don’t consider anything we do to be a tool for anything.
STYLUS: I hear the video for the single is pretty sick. Can you tell me a little about it and what the inspiration behind it was?
JB: I don’t think it’s too sick. It’s definitely a little uncomfortable to watch, but I don’t think it goes too far. The concept pretty much follows the story line of the lyrics— us doing operations on people from the back of an ambulance. I’m happy with it, I think it’s good for a first video.
STYLUS: Your artwork, lyrics and song titles are all very distinct and intense. What is the inspiration behind each of them? Are theycarefully thought out or more of a stream of consciousness thing?
JB: Sometimes we’ll think of a song title after the song is done, other times a title will pop into our head and we’ll write around it. We try to make the artwork correlate with the lyrics as much as possible. Cody and his friend, Yaeger, did the artwork for the new record, and I was really pleased with the screenprinted, cut and paste style. I think it turned out well.
STYLUS: Your three albums have all been on different labels – is that just by coincidence?
JB: All our previous records were put out by friends of ours and different people we’ve met who’ve wanted to be a part of what we do. But that goes both ways. We’ve traditionally tried to work with labels that include bands/people that inspire us.
STYLUS: Your live shows have been compared to At The Drive-In, mainly because they were the closest hardcore has ever come to reaching the mainstream. Do you mind and see the comparisons?
JB: I don’t think hardcore reaching the mainstream has anything to do with a live show. The bands that have had the most impact on us have always been the bands that put everything they have into laying live, making the experience as collective as possible between band and audience. By no means does that begin and end with At The Drive-In. They were a great band, but they didn’t have too much of an influence on what we do in ours.
STYLUS: What brings on the high level of energy onstage? Is it your nature, or do you feel the audience needs to witness somethingmemorable like that when they come to see a Blood Brothers show?
JB: It’s just what comes out when we play together. We’re all fairly laid back when we’re not on stage. Playing is the only opportunity we have for that kind of release, so I guess we take full advantage of it. It helps when the audience is putting forth just as much energy as us, too.
STYLUS: How do Jordan and Johnny perform without shredding their vocal chords? Are there any special remedies?
JB: Not really, just a lot of water and rest.
By: Cam Lindsay
Published on: 2003-09-01