Blonde Redhead formed in New York City in 1994 with a rather unique sound. They have been called everything from noise-rock band to an art band and have been compared to innovators such as Sonic Youth and Portishead. The band is composed of Kazu Makino (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and twin brothers Simone Pace (drums, vocals) and Amedeo Pace (lead guitar, keyboards). They have toured with bands such as the Melvins, Beiruit, The Roots, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Interpol to name a few.
After eight albums and nearly 20 years of mind-blowing onstage performances Blonde Redhead has built up a rather intense cult following. It is obvious they are something special the minute they take the stage. A calm falls almost immediately over the crowd, and within the first few notes the stage becomes another world. Makino’s angelic vocals surrounded by keyboards, guitars and drums sweeps you into a shoegaze meets electronic pop daze, almost like a structured dream. While everything is a bit fuzzy; every note, every beat feels perfect and strategically planned. Watching Makino on stage, it seems as if she is in a trance throughout the entire show. She loses herself completely, while the brothers thoughtfully intermingle with mellifluous tones.
If you were lucky enough to catch them at this year’s LAUNCH Festival in Sacramento, you were in for quite a treat. After the festival, TUBE caught up with Makino and discovered a little more about being on stage, writing songs, and being on tour.
TUBE: How does it feel to be on stage?
Makino: I slide into it. It feels quiet and no drama…calm before the storm? When I struggle on stage, it is when I feel self-conscious and could be mostly due to the sound on stage or how I feel that day. And when it works, it’s an out of body experience.
T: What is your most memorable Blonde Redhead moment on or off the stage?
M: I try to forget about it as soon as its over but I do I remember a Paris show a few years ago, I was extremely tired and unstable, I suppose I should not have been on tour at that moment, I thought there was a big black cat on stage running around and I was freaked out to say the least. I was hallucinating…it was Amedeo’s chunky boots. Off stage, if you are talking about being on tour, there are so many ridiculous moments. Things we do to make the show happen and keep traveling from point A to B is not something one should do if one is wise and constructive. Last night we went to In-N-Out burger after the LA show and the twins wanted to have some red wine with their burgers so we did at the table next to the drive thru. Little things like that but everyday for years is impressive to me.
T: After playing together for nearly 20 years do you find it is easier to write music together or more difficult? Do you still get inspired from each other or do you know each other’s tricks? Do you ever become blocked and if so how do you work through it?
M: Depends… some things come out easy and some things, even if you felt strongly about it, it’s work. If I get blocked, I give it a rest. Writing and playing music is tricky in the way that you need to be free and also be somewhat disciplined. With each other, there are things I love about them which weighs more than things I can’t stand about them…clearly.
T: New albums appear pretty consistently every 3-4 years. What are you working on now?
M: Yes…we are nearly finished with a new album. We are exceedingly happy and I simply can’t wait to see how it unfolds out there.
T:Is it true that Blonde Redhead is your first and only band?
T: When was it that you realized that you wanted to play music?
M: I’m afraid that didn’t really happen. Not that I tried anything else either but never thought to myself ‘Kazu, you are meant to be doing this.’ But I do feel sometimes ‘there is no other place I rather be.’
T: How does touring in your earlier years compare with tours now and which do you prefer? Were the earlier years more raw and honest?
M: Well, I don’t think I could keep touring or playing if I felt jaded about it. That being said, if I still had to sleep on strangers floors, don’t think I could keep at it. Maybe once in a while…no, not even. There is a fine balance to proportion of tour though. I learned that you must be with people you love and respect. And it is far nicer when you can travel light. When the tour is too big, you could still be isolated among your own herd and that is not good. Bigger is not better.
T: Anything you’d like to say to aspiring musicians?
M: You never know…maybe it is just the thing for you.
Learn more about the band at http://blonde-redhead.com/