The Hardcore Blues
- Monday, September 12, 2005
It's only a matter of days before the lease on the legendary New York club CBGB's expires, and the building owners won't renew it. They don't care that the Ramones, Television, Mink DeVille, and a host of riotous punk bands once graced the stage of the self-proclaimed Home of Underground Rock on the seedy corner of Bowery and Bleecker in lower Manhattan.
Swedish rock foursome Blindside doesn't care either. They just want to go home.
The band just ended a month-long stint of shows supporting their most recent release, The Great Depression (DRT Entertainment), and today's gig at CBGB's is a one-off appearance they're doing "for fun." It wasn't promoted. It wasn't on their website. There was very little information about it.
It's not surprising then that I have a hard time finding them at the hole-in-the-wall facility. (CBGB's really is a hole in the wall.) There are countless posters and poster remains covering the walls and ceiling. Lighting is poor. Uneven floors make you trip. The stage looks as though it's about to collapse. There are nondescript, growling hardcore bands opening for Blindside. I really don't see the allure of the place.
Lori, the band's tour manager, knows little of their whereabouts. She finds her way backstage and checks the bathroom to no avail. To make matters worse, her cell phone battery just died, and there's no way for her to get in touch with the guys. She's visibly nervous and advises we go outside. Finally we spot them.
All four band members are standing on the corner opposite CBGB's. I had actually passed right by them on my way to the venue but failed to recognize them. It must have been the hats or the fact they were all on cell phones and had messenger bags strapped to their backs. They looked as though they were waiting to be picked up for the airport. Not too far from the truth, considering their plane back to Sweden leaves the day after.
We go to a nearby coffee shop, where we talk about why the day's show is the last thing on their minds.
"It's mostly my wife," says vocalist Christian Lindskog who, prior to the interview, was filling his wife in about the day's events. "[It's] just everyday stuff to catch up. When you talk like that every day, you almost run out of subjects to talk about."
Drummer Marcus Dahlstrom is a bit more jaded about catching up with his loved one.
"I'm sick of talking on the phone. I just want to hang out with my wife. After a while it gets pointless, not because you don't have anything to say, but because you just want to be with her."
Since making it big in 2002 with their Elektra debut Silence, the demand for live shows has increased, and the band's touring routine has been set in stone—tour for one or two months, go home to their loved ones for a week, then resume touring for another month or two. Soon they go home, and in a matter of days it's back to the U.S. for another round of shows, this time on tour with modern rock act Trapt that runs through November.
It's not the quartet's choice, and they hate it with a passion, but it's something their wives, friends, and relatives are willing to deal with when considering the big picture.
"My wife sees that we're not pursuing the rock 'n' roll dream anymore," says Lindskog. "She sees that it's about something greater. That's what prepared her to make this sacrifice. We do bring our loved ones on tour whenever we can."
Formed in 1994 in Stockholm, Sweden, Blindside is quite an atypical group considering they come from the land of girl-fronted pop, the same country that gave us ABBA, Ace of Base, and The Cardigans.
The quintessential hardcore frontman, Lindskog, is a lanky, towering, six-foot-plus mouthpiece who can transform his prayerful, meditative coos into guttural, blood-curdling shrieks in the same breath. Guitarist Simon Grenehed, on the other hand, is nothing like his pensive interview persona. He manages to squeeze indescribable squeals out of his six-stringed instrument, all the while gyrating and doing air kicks onstage. By the time the multi-tempoed, offbeat rhythm section provided by Dahlstrom and bassist Tomas Naslund kicks in, you have a group that transcends the more conventional stateside fare.
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