What have been your musical epiphany moments?
Bob - My epiphany moment was hearing Paranoid by Black Sabbath on the radio (probably WCOZ in Boston). I was totally floored, I was like, “what is this and where can I get more?” Up until then it was just whatever my brothers had laying around the house for records, which was mostly the Beatles.
Jim - I grew up hearing all of my Mom and Dad’s favorite records (Moody Blues, Righteous Brothers, early Bee Gees etc.) but I very vividly remember the day my Dad brought home Dark Side of the Moon and played it for the first time. Even as a young kid, it was the first time I was really immersed in the album experience of checking out the album art, inserts and stickers and it made a huge impression.
JR - Van Halen at the Roanoke Civic Center, February, 1984. I heard the beginning of Unchained as they opened the set, and I thought to myself, “I must do THIS!”
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
Jim - So far it’s been sharing the song ideas (either from Doug, Bob or JR) and hashing them out in the room together. I usually then take the song home and come up with the melody and lyrics.
Who has influenced you the most?
Jim - I’m a huge Soundgarden/Chris Cornell fan so I would say them first. Probably Led Zep a close second. I would say in BL I’m drawing more inspiration from Ian Gillan.
Bob - In regard to the band, I pull a lot of influence from Dio era Sabbath and Di’anno era Maiden. Lately I’ve been on a Queensryche kick. Operation Mindcrime is untouchable.
Doug - Crimson Glory, Laaz Rockit, Tygers Of Pang Tang, Eye Yamatsuka, Al Di Meola, John Sykes, John Zorn, John Coltrane, Sonny Sharrock, Angus Young, Alvin Lee, Dianno era Maiden, D’Angelo, Meshell Ndgeocello, James Brown, Funkadelic, The Meters, Scientist, Company Flow, Miles, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Desmond Dekker, Death, obituary. Carl Starling, Moondog, Sun Ra, Bo Diddley, Mike Patton.
JR - Rolling Stones. AC/DC. Thin Lizzy. Black Sabbath. Van Halen. My two favorite drummers are Tommy Aldridge and Vinny Appice.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
Jim - Lyrically, I’ll take anything from personal themes to current events to history. When I sit down to write, I try to channel something emotional but not too on the nose.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
Bob - This is a tough one, we’re all definitely immersed in the history of the Boston rock scene. Unfortunately Boston is being swallowed up by biotech companies and universities. Rehearsal spaces, smaller clubs and dive bars with any personality are almost nonexistent. Most of the people that I know who were staples of the Boston music community have exited Boston for more affordable options in Medford, Malden, Salem and south to New Bedford. The upside is that there are some rad breweries that are stepping up to give the old rockers a place to come together (Widowmaker, Bone Up, Notch).
Doug - if you enjoy axe throwing bars, condominiums, complete gentrification and some of the best bands in the world…then Boston is your home.
Where'd the band name come from?
Bob - We had our first show booked and needed a name fast. I have a running list of ridiculous band names (not to be confused with Dave Jarvis’ band name Facebook thread) and pulled a few out to be considered, just to get us through the first show. I figured Blood Lightning was so outrageous of a name that we could come up with something down the road once we got past this show. Everyone else latched onto it and it just stuck. I’m still holding out for a cooler name if anyone has suggestions.
Doug- I think a Metal Band Name Generator. Modern technology is a great thing.
Jim - Bob came up with it.
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
Jim - Anything John Carpenter, but it would be hard to top what’s there already.
Doug - Martyrs- Pascal Laugier.
JR - Anything Mario Bava.
You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
Doug - John Cage. 4’ 33” I mean the song literally speaks for itself.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
JR - Years ago, I was touring opening for 7 Seconds, and we played the Oak Theater in Chicago. During the set, my drum throne broke underneath me and I fell, head over heels, off the back of the drum riser. Then … one year later, I was touring opening for FEAR and we were playing the Metro, again in Chicago. In the same song, at the same point in the song, my throne broke again, but I managed to not fall off the riser. I had to throw a stick at one of my techs to get his attention to swap out the throne. In short … watch your ass in Chicago.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
Jim - This is the first band that I’ve only sang in, so it’s been an interesting ride to be a “frontman” with no guitar to hide behind. I found at first the mic stand was a good crutch but I’ve recently abandoned that for the most part and am trying to find my footing just embracing doing the thing. I think the fans can smell bullshit from a mile away so just letting go and getting lost for 30-45 minutes and just rocking out is what they can dig into and appreciate, and I hope the do.
JR - When you’re feeling good on stage and everything is “on,” with the crowd into it and the band locked in … it’s the best feeling in the world.
What makes a great song?
Jim - For me a great song is something that sticks with you the first time you hear it. Great riff/melody, great vocals. You might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and having it stuck in your head.
Doug - The Hook. The Groove. Listen to D’angelo.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
Bob - Well, the band came together during Covid (the previous Oct we got together to play a Halloween show to cover Black Sabbath’s Born Again album). We all thought it would be cool to bounce some riffs around so we all uploaded material into the Dropbox. I think the first one was a demo that I had that turned into Dying Starts. It was a verse and chorus that I had for a while and was so psyched with how it came out once the full band got to put their twist on it.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
Jim - Quite honestly I’m proud of the whole record/ep, but if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be “Bananconda”. I feel like it checks all the boxes for me.
JR - Really dig “Face Eater.” I love how it has a somewhat traditional gallop to it, but doesn’t sound like a direct lift of Iron Maiden, but for overall composition, I think I’m also onboard with “Bananaconda.”
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Bob - For me it would have to be Black Mountain. Stephen McBean is a master songwriter. Every album has its own cool synthy vibe but all have some kick ass rockers.
Doug - There’s this girl Ava Mendoza from Brooklyn who is an amazing songwriter left of center. Bill Frissell meets John Lee Hooker meets Sonny Sharrock. Saw her with Mike Watt last month and was blown away.
JR - Yasmine Hamden. Little Dragon. Billy Nomates. Yali Blank. The new Prong record is pretty ass-kickin’. Fugitive.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Jim - In a perfect world Vinyl but i'd have to go with digital for the ease of use and accessibility.
Bob - I like all 3 formats actually. I love the ritual of opening and handling an LP record. Pulling out the sleeve with the lyrics, being immersed in the design/layout etc but I only have a turntable in my living room. I like the convenience of digital and often listen to CD’s in my basement studio.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
JR - Whiskey, hands down. E.H. Taylor. Weller. Putnam Single Malt.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your hometown, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?
Bob - Village Vinyl in Brookline is pretty awesome. They have a great metal section and they even sell killer stereo systems. I’ve also become fond of a record store south of Boston in Norwell called Inclusion Records.
Doug- My boy Brian owns Want List Records in Newton, Ma. Place rules!
Jim - I’d say Village Vinyl in Brookline.
What's next for the band?
Jim - We have our album release show on 11/25. We’re going to get back to writing to see what we can come up with..hopefully enough for another album!
JR - Record release. Writing more jams for the next album. Some regional shows.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Jim - Thanks for checking out Blood Lightning!! I hope you’re digging the music and if you’ve purchased the record, thanks!!