Get to Know: Blaha

Ahead of First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2017, we got to ask Mike Blaha from the band BLAHA a few questions. Read what he had to say below, and don’t miss them at First Avenue on Friday, January 5.

Charlie Bach: After establishing a name for yourself with The Blind Shake, what is it like to be doing the same with BLAHA?  

Mike Blaha: It is much easier to walk into this situation having known all of the tour contacts, labels, and people in bands to help get us going. In the early days of The Blind Shake, we had to kick down every single door we wanted open. Even getting a show in Minneapolis was almost impossible.

CB: Who do you look to for an honest review of your work?

MB: Scene Point Blank writes thoughtful reviews. But I am definitely not looking to add critics. I have enough self-hate issues without putting my self esteem in the hands of other people. So I prefer to just do the work, followed by some more work.

CB: What has been the biggest difference between playing with The Blind Shake and BLAHA?

MB: Not playing with my brother, Jim, is the biggest difference. When we write songs together or play live, things click super quickly because we can pretty much read each other‘s minds by now. Musically speaking, we sort of merged into one person. However, when we knowingly work apart, I think both of our projects attempt things that push us and help us grow more. For example, the last place I would have wanted to be in my life is singing by myself into a microphone in front of people. But it’s something I have to attempt in order to get through whatever it is about that I am resisting. If I only do what is comfortable for me, I just sort of become a cartoon of myself and I’m not breaking any new ground artistically or as a person. But yeah, you definitely can’t explain your ideas with the same intensity to a non-brother and have it still work out. Ultimately, being a little more open-minded and not having to achieve certain aesthetic has been a lot of fun. My bandmates are all great musicians who take the song idea and expand on it without losing sight of the original concept. With that being said though, there definitely is some magic in being extremely intense and unhealthy for 15 straight years.

CB: You released a ton of music this year. What can we expect for 2018?

MB: Hopefully a Blaha band full length and an acoustic duet album as Blaha & Costello, a project I’ve been working on with Christy Costello from Pink Mink, Von Bondies, and Oujia Radio. I think both albums are ready to go, we just have to line up some time and record them.

Blog by Charlie Bach (Marketing Intern)

Get To Know: Dwynell Roland

Ahead of First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2017, we got to ask Dwynell Roland a few questions. Read what he had to say below, and don’t miss him at First Avenue on Friday, January 5.

Mackenzie O’Reilly: When did you decide you wanted to get into rap for a living?

Dwynell Roland: High school my junior year is when I really put my mind that I wanted to do this for a living. Since then I’ve been making the steps to make that happen. So far so good I think. *laughs*

MO: Who influenced your style the most?

DR: I have no idea honestly. I like all types of music so I try my best to dabble into everything. When I was younger it used to be Mystikal actually (if you listen to my earlier stuff you’ll see what I mean).

MO: Who do you feel like you’re making the music for — the public or yourself?

DR: Well when I’m writing it and everything I make it for myself. Since it’s at the moment but I tend to put lyrics that other people can relate to while relating to my own work as well. So I wanna say both. I never really attach myself to my songs or anything. I just make the music and after that it’s for everyone to hopefully relate or like it.

MO: What can the audience expect from your performance?

DR: A lot of energy and just having fun honestly. I just want people to have fun and enjoy themselves. That’s my plan every time I step on stage so this event will be no different!

Get To Know: Lady Lark

Ahead of First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2017, we got to ask Lady Lark a few questions. Read what they had to say below, and don’t miss them at First Avenue on Friday, January 5

Mackenzie O’Reilly: What stands out about your music compared to other artists?

Lady Lark: I think we all need permission to let go sometimes and music is my release, being Lady Lark is my excuse to let loose and I want everyone to feel the same way when I’m singing. My music is designed to make you dance, tap, or groove like no one is watching, I want everyone to feel the same joy that I do from music.

MO: What song are you most proud of?

LL: The Rhythm is the song I’m most proud of because it was the moment I found my true sound. I’ve always wanted to record and perform but didn’t know if I could capture the same magic that I love. As soon as the Rhythm was released, my musical journey began and Lady Lark was born.

MO: What are you most looking forward to when returning to First Avenue?

LL: This will be my first time on the Main Stage, which will be nothing short of a dream come true. I played 7th St Entry about a year ago but never imagined this honor could happen, it’s truly a blessing to play on such a renowned stage with great company.

MO: Are you working on any new projects you can tell us about, or is live music still your focus?

LL: I’m getting ready to release a new single just in time for the new year and I can’t wait to share it! The single will be the first track off my new album, which I’m currently recording in the studio and plan to release the summer of next year.

Get to Know: Bad Bad Hats

Ahead of their two very sold out shows, we got to ask Bad Bad Hats a few questions. Read what they had to say below, and don’t miss them in the 7th St Entry this Saturday December 16!

Liz Legatt: What does your band name mean and where did it come from? 

Kerry (of Bad Bad Hats): Bad Bad Hats is a reference to the Madeline children’s books. I used to read them when I was little and I watched a cartoon version on VHS tape. In the books, a “bad hat” is a person who’s a trouble-maker or up to no good. When I was making a scene as a kid, my parents would ask me if I was being a bad hat. I don’t know why it was in my head when we were naming the band, but it’s nostalgic for me. 

LL: Bad Bad Hats met and formed while attending Macalester College—so really, the Twin Cities are your stomping grounds. What’s your favorite part of performing for your local fans? 

BBH: We love being a Minneapolis band. It’s such a supportive scene and very inspiring too. The local show is always the best. Lots of friends and familiar faces. It’s really special to us to see people coming back to the shows, who know the words and are excited to see us getting bigger. We are very grateful to our fans. We like the local show too because we like sharing the stage with our friends. 

LL: I was able to attend your show with Hippo Campus in November 2015, and I must say that you have the funniest stage banter in between songs! Do you usually come up with your content on the spot? 

BBH: Almost all of my stage banter was something I came up with on the spot at some point, though now there are a few bits that I do at almost every show. I’m glad people enjoy the jokes. We don’t ever want to take ourselves too seriously. I’m happy people can connect with the music in a real and serious way, but can also have fun with us at the shows. Making music brings me joy and I want to share that joy with our fans. 

LL: Is there a song you’ve written that came completely out of nowhere? If so, what were you doing when it came to you? 

BBH: “Psychic Reader” was actually a last-minute addition to our first album. We were about to head into the studio and we had all the demos ready. But I had this idea and Chris and I recorded a quick little voice memo. When Brett, our friend and producer, heard it, he was like, this has to be on the album. He helped us finish the arrangement and he wrote the bridge. So it ended up being a really cool collaboration. But, yeah, a lot of songs feel like they kind of just drop from the sky. It’s a thrilling experience when the right words and melody comes to you.

LL: Do you have any stories you can share with us about adventures on tour? 

BBH: Oh wow. Tour is the greatest adventure of all. You meet so many people and see so many cities in such a small amount of time. It’s a crazy feeling to be in Seattle one day and then a week later be in Arizona. On our last tour with The Front Bottoms, we had to drive from Charlotte to Philadelphia the day of a show. We left ourselves plenty of time, but we forgot to factor in the fact that it was the day before Thanksgiving. It was the worst traffic I’ve ever experienced and it was so bad that we showed up at the venue fifteen minutes before we were supposed to play. Thankfully, everyone at the venue was ready for us and got all of our stuff on stage, got us sound-checked, and we ended up starting two minutes early. Success!! We earned our Philly cheesesteaks that night. 

LL: What should we keep an eye out for next from Bad Bad Hats? 

BBH: Well! We’re working on a new album. We’re almost finished recording. So that’ll be coming out in the somewhat near future which is exciting! Then just expect more shows. More rockin’ and rollin’. 

Blog by Liz Legatt (Marketing Intern)

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