SEATTLE- a friend had invited me out on a warm May 15th night, to the comet tavern in Capitol Hill for companionship while taking in a live show. I despise seeing shows at the Comet because of the construction of the venue. The floor is angled in a tri-angle type shape that backs directly into levitated booths. There are benches and pillars in the middle of the floor making it impossible to view any of the bands performing unless you stand on the benches. Bench standing can put you are in harms way of intoxicated patrons as well as intoxicated Comet staff. The Comet usually has a very drunk crowd that loves to flail their arms about spilling drinks on you while running you off your area on the standing bench. Due to all of the gala affairs that I have stated above, I desire to attend live shows elsewhere. This particular May 15th night, I prepared myself by wearing clothes I am not to attach to with a pair of comfortable shoes.
About an hour after I had arrived at the Comet and secured a spot on the standing bench, a local Seattle band by the name of The Blood Red Dancers, took the stage. I was immediate intrigued by their appearance. The drummer was dressed like an extra from the 80’s film Revenge of the Nerds, the keyboard player sported a bit of an aristocratic ensemble and the singer looked as though he had just rolled out of bed. He had on a white V-neck shirt, jeans, and messy hair. The Blood Red Dancers are Kevin R. Lord, Aaron Poppick and Julian Thomas. Their Myspace pages describes their music as “Sounding like liquor first thing in the morning.”
I could not help but giggle a bit and think to myself, “What have I got myself into tonight?” Once the band began their performance, I noticed I was becoming unable to chat with my friend as well as remove my eyes from the make-shift stage. I was soon completely mesmerized. The music sounded heavily influenced by the blues, jazz and classic country. The sound was dirty, raw and brilliant. The vocals gave off a Tom Waits vibe and the lyrics were catchy yet original. The band got the crowd interested within seconds of their first song and by then end of their set, the crowd was singing along to a song they had never heard before. In unison everyone sang, “Pennies off that dead guys eyes!”
Never once getting bored and only removing my eyes from the band to catch the crowd’s enthusiasm, I soon found myself feeling grateful to be at the Comet that May 15th night. In our pop-culture dominated society, I forget sometimes that the love for live independent music is still very much alive and kicking. I was defiantly reminded of that while watching The Blood Red Dancers.
Blood Red Dancers are a three-piece dark rock band that was created by three childhood friends. Their passion for their music has an abysmal sincerity that is undeniable. As individuals they are just as honest and enjoyable as their music.
JE: What’s your musical background?
Aaron: I don’t have much of a musical background. I was in a punk rock band with Julian back when we were 14 or 15 years old. I have known Julian since we were about 9 years old. We moved from Los Angeles together. I’ve been playing bass for about 10 or 11 years now and I’m pretty much self taught. I would say that my musical background is sitting around and listening to records.
Julian: I’ve been playing keys for about 10 years. I’m more classically trained. I went to college for music theory and I feel that I have really improved over the last two years from playing with Blood Red Dancers. Playing the combination of blues, jazz and rock has made me a stronger musician. They are three genres that don’t fuck around.
Kevin: I have had no training at all, I picked up the drums about three years ago. I became the drummer on a whim; I was kind of bullied into it. The band was trying out a different drummer and when the auditioning drummer went out for a smoke, I just sat down and started playing a beat. The guys were all like “Dude! You can play the drums!” I was hesitant at first but I eventually bought a drum set and from then on I have been the bands drummer.
Aaron: Kevin is a total prodigy and the weirdest member of band.
JE: Tell me your story.
Aaron: Like I mentioned earlier, Julian and I have known each other since we were about 9 years old. We are both originally from the San Fernando Valley although Julian was born in England. Julian moved to Seattle about 5 years ago and I shortly followed. Kevin, who is my childhood friend, eventually followed me here. Julian and I were making music together when we first moved here to Seattle. We have always played music together, we have always been music nerds. We always sat around together and listened to records since we were like 13 or 14 years old. We began our project, the blood red dancers, about 2 years ago. Julian and I had a post-punk project that we were doing together but we found ourselves mixing in jazz and blues. Then shortly after that Kevin joined the band we were then able to produce the angry dark rock that we wanted, so that was really the beginning of Blood Red Dancers.
JE: Do you record and release your own music?
Aaron: We do. We are completely DIY; a friend of ours helped us record our last 2 EP’s. We pay out of pocket, but our next record is going to be a bit pricier and more industry driven.
JE: What is your fan demographic?
Aaron: It’s really odd because it’s all sorts of different people. I feel like our music is appreciated by all types of people. I have had frat boys and computer gamers come up to me and give me high fives.
Julian: People who like darker music really like us. We have been very lucky with the response from our fan demographic, mostly at shows. A lot of times people don’t come to see us but once they are there, they seem to like us.
Kevin: We have received air play from THE END’s local show. We have two singles that have been played, “Sweetie Getting Mobbed” and “The Lamb.” We have had some little love from KEXP as well, and this has developed fans for us outside of Seattle. We’ve been getting a lot more friend requests on our Myspace page from people who have heard us on the radio! It’s very exciting to us because we feel at times that our music is not the easiest pill to swallow.
JE: What are your songs about?
Aaron: Drugs, women, Moral decay, social decline, war and drinking far too much.
Kevin: Spending too much time sitting in one room.
Julian: The evening news.
Aaron: Things that are ugly but worth looking at.
JE: Who are your musical influences?
Aaron: Sun House and Tammy Wynette.
Kevin: Swans and Frank Sinatra .
Julian: Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus
JE: How do you describe your music to people?
Aaron: Well, basically we are a rock band that is heavily influenced by jazz and blues. We try to fuse soul, blues, jazz, Goth and post-punk. Mostly, I describe us as dark rock band.
JE: What image do you think your music conveys?
Aaron: I feel that the image that we convey is ugliness, worth while ugliness that is worth talking about. Like an ugly photograph. We are a dark and angry band. We don’t try to do a stage presence of anger, we remain natural and ourselves.
Kevin: I would say that our music is like a pharmaceutical commercial gone wrong. We don’t have a rehearsed imagine. We display exactly who we are, we just add a bit more anger to ourselves during our performances. I also think that we convey dissolution as well as anger. I break drum heads at the shows and I break drum heads during practice. I go through drum heads like every three weeks. It’s starting to get expensive to replace them all the time, but it feels so fucking good to break them while I play.
Julian: To me it’s like the American dream gone wrong but I’m kind of stuck in my own version of the 30’s and 40’s era I guess. I get into the performance and I do my own thing.
JE: What are your overall music career goals?
Aaron: Take over the fucking world and receive drugs and women! Until then, we would like to get signed locally, continue to play live shows, get the new EP out and hopefully get a little more radio-play. We honestly haven’t thought much about our long term goals. We are just so excited to play any show in Seattle. We just want to keep playing, drinking and writing worth while music.
Julian: Get a liver-transplant and then I would like to continue my music studies and put forth the efforts that Blood Red Dancers deserves. I would like to die knowing that I have made great music that has brought something wonderful to other people.
Kevin: Buy stock in over-the-counter sleep aids! Really though, I would like us to stay together, play live shows, drink, and move forward making music and recording. If I think about the future I see myself as an accountant! We don’t like to think about the future.
JE: Describe your best and worst live performance.
Aaron: Our worst performance was at The Mars bar. The speaker system cut out on us during our set and we kind of over estimated how much we could drink before the show. Our best performance was at Reverb Fest last year. There was something like 180 people there. It was the largest audience we had ever played for at the clapping for us was so loud. More noise than I ever heard. It was an exhilarating experience. We were all very grateful to be a part of that.
JE: How do you rate your live performance ability?
Aaron: When we are not to drunk, I feel like our live performances are impressive. If we are not too sloshed, I feel like our live shows are our strongest aspect; we can really pull people in. If we get to drunk…we get a little sloppy.
Kevin: A lot depends on the ratio of drink tickets to hours.
Julian: I think we really get a lot out of our live shows.
JE: Who handles your booking and promotions?
Kevin: Julian does mostly. He has a job that allows him a lot of free time and internet access.
Aaron: All of us do, I handle the art work for posters, flyers and cover art but Julian does quite a bit, he’s kind of the most decent out of all of us.
Julian: I have a job where I do nothing all day. I handle most of our promotions through our Myspace page, posters, and word of mouth.
JE: What is the best thing about being in this band?
Aaron: The sound of people clapping and drink tickets.
Julian: The best thing about this band is that it brings me a sense of importance. Playing with this band and doing what I love, brings me above the mundane routine that goes on day to day in my life.
Kevin: When my stick goes through a snare drum head!
JE: Any upcoming events you would like to announce?
Aaron: We have a new EP coming hopefully around mid-august called “The Bikini Island” and on July 11th we are playing a show at The Blue Room. We have videos on you tube and a Myspace music page with an event calendar.
Kevin: We would really like people to check out our you tube videos, we have quite a few live performances on there.
Aaron: Thank you very much! It’s been a pleasure!