For John Blonde, singer of the band House Of Blondes, music is all about atmosphere, energy and sound, or at least that is the approach he and his band took when recording their debut album, Clean Cuts, released in early 2012. The electro-synth trio of Blonde, Synth player and guitarist Chris Pace and drummer and bassist Brian McNamara has a list of influences as long as your arm, but the sound it creates is distinctly its own.
It all began in 2007 with an epiphany after Blonde attended a particularly inspiring Genesis P-Orridge and Thee Majesty gig at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory. The electro genre was calling his name, but he needed some help from the only guy he knew was capable of getting the sound he wanted: Chris Pace. After a 20-minute jam session at Pace’s place, involving Blonde beating his hand on a couch among other things, Pace was able to carve out what is now the song “Anhedonia.” McNamara joined in 2011, and the band officially became a trio. As for the name, it was in the works for a while. “I’ve kept a small book of fake band names since I was 9,” Blonde says. “‘House Of Blondes’ was in that book. ‘Short Stuff’ and ‘Marry Me Freddie Mercury’ were also in that book, so competition obviously wasn’t stiff.”
The improvisational tactic begun with Blonde and Pace carried through as the band recorded Clean Cuts, which leans toward electro-pop. The ethereal vocals on “Do It Yourself” peg an ’80s feel while the Temper Trap-esque drum line modernizes it. But there is also a “sadness to the tracks,” as stated by Blonde in a recent interview. It can be heard in the dissonance and release between the synth and bass in a song like “Lower,” the chords reminiscent of a baroque classical piece. There is a method to their improvisation; it is not something out of nothing, but playfulness with a plan.
You don’t have to take my word for it though, as Clean Cuts is now available on Spotify for all to hear before House of Blondes plays a pair of shows in New York this summer; June 12 at Pianos and July 8 at Spike Hill.
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