Celebrating their 20th anniversary with a new album due later this year, Blonde Redhead has done everything from experimental prog to dream pop even before JUICE was around. It’s been almost four years since Penny Sparkle came out, which shifted the band’s musical compass and took them towards new horizons. We took this opportunity to talk to Simone Pace – drummer of the trio, twin of Amadeo, and brother-in-law of Kazu – about the upcoming release Barragán, making music as a family, and motorcycles.
You’ve been quite quiet about the upcoming album. Has there been a reason for this?
I know, I know. Well, nothing in particular I guess. It just happened that way. It’s a self-produced and self-funded record. We just started working on it ourselves but putting it together after the writing took a lot more time than we thought it would, and now it’s finally finished! We’ve just decided to release it with a label and things are looking like they’re going pretty smoothly.
Penny Sparkle was a world away from your previous work, with a more minimalistic take on the music. Can you tell us a little bit about what your upcoming album will be like?
I think all our albums have been pretty different. But this will be most similar to Penny Sparkle in the sense of us continuing the minimalistic theme but without the synth-heavy sound. It’s going to be called Barragán, who’s an architect whose work the three of us enjoy.
Is titling the album in his name an ode to the type of music that we will be hearing from you as well?
I guess so. We wanted to make something timeless and yet clean and minimalistic on this album. We also went for a dose of simplicity this time around, and used analogue instruments on everything. Instead of recording track by track, we also sat around and played off each other just like in the old days. It brings a different vibe to the room, just like when we were tracking to tape.
It has been over two decades since the band has been together. How have you evolved as a band over time?
I think that one of the biggest things to affect us was Kazu’s accident a few years ago. It put us on hold for the record, and it affected the way that she wrote her lyrics. It made us feel a little more vulnerable than we usually are, and so things did change. We improved as a unit and bounced back, so positive things did come out of the accident eventually. When things like this happen, the tendency is to become stronger in some way, and it did make us stronger. If we recorded that record without anything happening, it would have been a totally different sound, and we probably wouldn’t be the same band that we are today as well.
Each of your albums has a unique theme to it. Is this intentional, and how do you go about writing around it?
I don’t think that it was something that Amadeo and Kazu think so much about directly when writing lyrics, but before we write an album, we do talk about what we are trying to achieve with it. But I think so much comes into play – everybody has a particular style and everybody has ideas that they try to work in and also we always tend to work with the same people for each record. This helps to have a certain atmosphere as well, and that is maintained throughout the whole album.
Blonde Redhead doesn’t seem to put out records too regularly.
Yeah, we love touring around the place, and it’s not easy to work on new material while on the road. After Penny Sparkle in 2010, we took an extended tour – then took what amounted to almost a full year off just to work on this album.
We’ve also heard that you’re very much into bikes, and you take bikes out on tour when you can?
I think most of all, I love Italian vintage bikes. I love the sounds that they make and the way that they look and how beautiful handbuilt ones are. I take care of them, and I find it calming and relaxing to just sit down and work on them while listening to some music. Sadly, I don’t think I will be doing much biking on this Asian tour. I think we’ve got a flight virtually every day. When I can, I’ll take it out to do some exploring out of town, or to the outskirts, which is more fun than just staying in the crowded touristy places.
Blonde Redhead’s new album Barragán will be out on Tuesday 2 September ‘14. The first single off the album, ‘No More Honey’ is available for streaming on iTunes.