A (non) romantic story about Bob Dylan eating The Ramones…alive.
Some Punk Rock straight out of California!
Joie, you’re pretty much the one – member band at the moment! How did that happen? How do you cope with it?
Well the long and the short of it is I love writing songs. It’s like therapy. Creating something out of nothing is a gift and a curse. Putting words to feelings and then putting them to music is something I need to do. I really enjoy it. I have an artistic heart. I never got in to music for the girls, money or fame. It’s about communication and putting my perspective and perception into the world. I would like to have a steady band behind me but I haven’t found the people that have my drive and determination to do it. I am a loner or some say and introvert so I am just home working on music or playing shows. I do believe in living serendipitously. People are put in your life for a reason a season or a lifetime. I am fine doing things by myself though. I love the artistic freedom it give me. I would never rule out working with anyone. I am a good collaborator and take criticism well. I am not a dictator or narcissist. If I am Working with someone that can make the song better then I am all for it. In the past some of the band members have come up with parts for a song that I didn’t even know existed. Be it a drum part or a key change. I am down for letting the song dictate where it needs to go
How do you make your music and shows?
The solo acoustic punk thing is pretty easy. I show up plug in and play. That’s where Bob Dylan eating The Ramones come in to play. I am not so much a singer songwriter. I can sing and play guitar but I don’t put myself in the singer songwriter catagory. It’s kind like three chords and the truth or my version of the truth. I love punk rock and the poet lyrics of folk music. So combining the two is pretty easy. There is a whole scene in NYC called antifolk. There are many branches of that genre. It’s more of an attitude than a style. The main focus for Me in playing shows is to get the lyrics across. My music is lyrically driven. Not so much story telling but experiences that I have lived. Songs about love, redemption and death. Life is pretty weird. And at the end of the day all we have are our experiences. So I am lucky enough to write about them. And even have people sing along. I pretty much all emotion. Not in an emo way but sing about universal truths that everybody understands. Pain is what people all understand. Love is so misunderstood , at least for me. Being able to convey emotions in a musical way in a club or theatre while people are talking or trying to forget about there problems as I sing my life back to them is challenging but so much fun.
You describe your music as ‘honest’. Isn’t California, and especially these days – one of the toughest places to make it in music if it’s not plastic? Isn’t ‘fake’ the particular trait you need to wear on yourself, in order to survive in there?
I never tried to make it. I always look at the process of songwriting. I write honest songs. A good song may not be an honest song. There are so many undiscovered great songwriters that never got there due. Los Angeles is a dog and pony show. A lot of smoke and mirrors. But I like it out here. The weather is great. The great things is that it is so big and there are people and places and scenes that are really honest and love to book the weirdos. No matter how many people show up. If they like you they book you. Not all of la is fake. I think it gets a bad reputation. Being authentic and real goes along way here. Because at the end of the day if you cant be yourself what is the point of living. I have been doing this a long time. It is not a bandwagon thing this dead Blonde Girlfriend thing. It is an extension of me only louder.
Punk is dead they say, but Dead Blonde Girlfriend is doing pretty well. Reveal this secret to us – what keeps ‘her’ alive?
I don’t think punk is dead. And think it is more alive and well more than any other genre. To me punk was more of an attitude. Dylan plugging in electric and turning his back on all the folkies was punk. Lou Reed is extremely punk. Iggy Pop is alive and kicking. David Bowie god rest is soul was punk. The Johnny Cash picture of him flipping off the camera is punk. To me punk is doing what you want and not really letting the masses effect your art. The fine art of rebellion. Speaking the truth. To me that is punk. It’s not a haircut or a mode of dress. I played a show last week with eyeliner on and an Armani suit. Why do you ask? Because I felt like it. Doing what feels right for me is punk. It’s living outside the box. Some of the photos I have taken people have preconceived notions that it’s emo or Glam. I dress that way because I want to. I like making music in a time where money is really hard to make is punk. The older I get I look back and see things differently. Growing old gracefully and being timeless is what I am trying to achieve. A lot of punk bands or bands in general look a certain way. To me art is an extension of ones self . Some people like the magic and hate the magician. Some people like a certain style of music but don’t like the band. Right now some kid is writing a song and doesn’t even know he is punk. So punk is very much alive in a spirit an attitude.
You say your music is like Bob Dylan ate The Ramones alive while listening to the Replacements. What’s punky in Dylan to you?
As I said before, He plugged in electric and changed music and songwriting. He has that record coming out where he covers a bunch of amazing songs. Why would one of the best song writers in the world do a covers record. Because he can. The Ramones to me were life changing. I think they are better and more influential than the Beatles. Short songs to the point. The energy that comes off the stage and out of the speakers move people. I played solo acoustic punk for a long time and played to a lot of people and to an empty room. I played for me. I guess I am my biggest fan. To make art is a gift. I have more fun writing than playing or recording. I just did an interview with huffington post about the healing power of music. I listen to Dylan tom waits or Elliot Smith and the world seems better. And I don’t feel so alone. Kris kristofferson is a big influence. He is 80 something and up there playing solo moving people. Dylan is forever touring. That stuff inspires me. Music is one of the most powerful things in the world. It can change a room and lives. Being a creator is one of the things that keeps me on this planet
The name of your band sounds quiet creepy. Would you consider yourself to be a part of a Horror Music Business or you rather consider yourself to be more punk/pop 70’s NYC Punk Rock scene kind of guy?
I like the NY Punk scene from CBGB’S. I don’t know what horror music is. I never got the pop punk thing. All those bands with numbers and jumping around. I think it is shopping mall rock. I am really diving into the Los Angeles punk scene from the 70s. It is blowing my mind. X is right now one of my favorite things to listen to. John Doe is an amazing songwriter. He show emotion and vulnerability that is extremely moving. Exene is a powerhouse and her poetry is the best around. I am glad somebody turned me on to this stuff. I like the dolls and thunders a lot but to discover the la punk scene has been a passion of mine lately. It has opened a lot of inspiration in me
We know the story behind your name is actually painful… Would you reveal this to your fans?
It’s really just a name. I was writing songs about a break up and one of my friends said you still writing about your dead Blonde Girlfriend. It kinda stuck with me. When a relationship ends it feels like a death. So I guess that’s where it come from. It can be taken so many ways. I am not really sure what it means anymore. It’s just something I came up with years ago. It is a name you will remember. And it does bring up a lot of topics of conversation.
Where do you see the band in 10 years?
I don’t know. I really don’t have an endgame. I am chasing the blank page. Playing shows growing old gracefully. Just making music would be the goal. I have been demoing out a bunch of new songs. I want to do a bunch of EPS. 5 songs on each and release it every couple of months. Like chapters in a book. I am trying to make each song feel like a scene in a movie. Not an epic lord of the rings type of thing but a glimpse into my life. And how I feel about things that have happened in my life. Write them down fire up the recorder and let’s see what happens…
Who would you like to go on tour with?
I am very introverted. So that’s not a big thing for me. I would like to work with certain people but I don’t want to talk about that. I look at what I do as a painter. A painter paints and then the art goes on tour. Not the painter. But one never knows. Life is pretty unpredictable so anything can happen
I’ve found a lot of sexy girls in your videoclips! Why and who are they?
I mainly write about love and relationships. Some of the girls are playing parts of the people I have dated. Some are just combinations of certain girls. Some are specific. Basically it’s my version of a certain situation. It’s all about love. Be it lost or found. Interaction is a catalyst for my writing. I get a better understanding in hindsight. I really don’t like to give to much away about who is who in what song. It’s mainly about the relationships and what I went through in them I love doing music videos. I do it really low budget and it is a lot of fun. It brings elements to a song that I never thought of.
Please, tell us more about your newest album “Love Letters & Suicide Notes” – who is it for and how long did it take you to write it?
I recorded it years ago but never mixed. I was working with future wax records and they put it out. It was nice to finally get that record out. It got some great reviews and brought back the name. I have only done one band record before this one. I have a bunch of solo acoustic punk records that I do every couple of years. So it was perfect timing to reintroduce the band. There is future Dead Blonde Girlfriend releases in the future. I want to do music until I am dead. It’s all about creation
Are you planning a tour anytime soon?
Maybe one never knows. I have really no immediate plans to tour but that can change.
If you had the time machine and could decide to pick up one band you are playing with… what band would that be?
I would put elements of legendary members in a band. Johnny Thunders on Guitar. Deee Dee Ramone on Bass. Keith moon on drums. Bobby keys on piano. Either Marc Bolan or Brian Jones on the other guitar. Those guys were the best. Attitude in rock n roll. Own the stage own the song. Own the moment and you can own the listener
What can you say about the balance between “old kind” of music like punk rock and modern recording techniques. What are your needs when you’re recording an album?
A great engineer and a producer that hears the song. Identifies with the lyrics. Someone that can make the song better. Like I said I can collaborate very well and I love criticism. I have some close people who do music that give it to me straight. That is what I need. I am not a fragile artist. Sensitive yes but fragile no. Self does not reveal self to self. So I want people to push me to be better. I am demoing a bunch of songs right now. I have about 25 done and have a few more to do. I listen back to them once a week to see if they can improve. I also need a great imaginative band behind me. That aren’t into writing cool parts but signature parts that fit the song. I am reading the Steve jones biography right now. And when you here him play you know it’s the Sex Pistols. I love that record. It sounds timeless. I want to make a r cord like that that stands the test of time. The production is great and the attitude comes out of the speakers. I want songs to sound how a David Fischer movie looks
You lived in New York City – a place known for its punk rock history – and then you came to California where music that comes from there has its own style. Are there any differences in point of views – yours and the guys from the West Coast?
I think California is more poetic Punk. Nyc is a concrete jungle. Lou reed was more of an art punk thanks to Warhol. But the California scene had the beauty and poetry of the landscape. It also was pretty violent. The Orange County stuff and hollywood punks. The dead boys and Blonde came out of cbgbs and they are legendary. The area where cbgbs was was dangerous. Nyc in the 70s from what I read was extremely dangerous. The NY DOLLS had the glitz and glamour. I like that element. I like rockstars looking like rockstars. I think the Nyc scene overshadowed everybody. Even the English scene that had the clash pistols and the damned. They all owe it to the nyc scene. But like everything else it is a matter of perspective and perception. I wasn’t there when it was happening but I read and listened to everything. And I can only imagine what the scenes were like. I love the documentary Danny says. He had a knack for being everywhere and making things happen. Seeing something and bringing to the masses.
What musicians would you like to record with?
I have a secret wish list but maybe another time we can talk about that . I would really like to find some talented undiscovered producer that likes what I do and record with. Someone that looks at music as art not what sounds good or what influences them. I have some strong influences but they reallly aren’t heard in my music. At least they aren’t heard by me.
Do you remember when you heard The Ramones [KK1] for the first time?
One of my friends show me the first album cover and that’s what hooked me. We played it and it blew me away. It was simple to the point. It made me feel I could do that. It wasn’t the Beatles or stones or bowie. It was guys that looked like me and songs I could play. It was really a no brainer. When I went to see them live it was a madhouse. It was like being thrown in a dryer. Tumbling everywhere and not knowing which end was up. It was a huge deal for me.
How important is the quality of the lyrics in your songs?
Lyrics are the most important part of the song for me. I write lyrics that convey feelings. Universally speaking humans feel and if people identify with what I write that is awesome. Tom Waits Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan write amazing lyrics. They are the best of the best. I am not sure how they did it but they write lyrics that change lives. It’s like a voice that comes in and tells you something that shakes your core. Paints a picture in your mind and heart that is etched in stone.
So what are your personal favorites when it comes to your own song?
Right now I am working on a bunch of new stuff. I have this song called she is the girl that moves me every time I play it. It’s a love song about the love of my life and how we can’t make it work. The song ends on a cliffhanger because that is where we are right now, At least in my heart. Song of sorrow is another new one about drug addiction. Divided heart is another one that has me going where did this come from. I don’t know how I write songs. I know what inspires me but the mystery is how to capture it. Like lightning in a bottle. Combining music and lyrics with melody. They can be full band songs or I can sit and play them acoustically. All my songs mean something to me. They are moments in my life that I get to listen to and share with the world. Since my music is lyrically driven I hear me growing up. Evolving as an artist Healing from the life I have lived and the hope and belief of a better tomorrow.