It might be a stretch to call Blue Falcon a Rochester super group, but the title is fitting. This stripped down rock n roll band has members with large experience in a number of local bands with influences and style that span the gambit of rock. Their latest EP Up In The Clouds was released late last June so we met up with members John and Ben to talk about stripping down music, the changing of listening styles, and guitar nerds.
So Blue Falcon just released a second EP Up In The Clouds, tell us about it.
John: That was released in late June; the reception of it has been pretty good we have been pushing it online. People who listen to it seem to think it was a step up from the last release. We went more of a live sound when recording this, so we got a better sound on this one. My singing might have improved a little.
Ben: the tunes are a little tighter than some of the older ones and lyrically it is really focused. I mean I love it; I had a little bit more of a hand in this one than the last one. They are John’s tunes but I had a little more involvement in the arrangement of this one. I mean I am biased, because I was more involved in it, but I love the direction of the writing and sound.
John: They way you record it obviously has an effect on the final product. For this one we didn’t track it as much. We did the drums and bass together live and then added the rest of it later on. I think the whole process was better this time around.
Ben: Not to knock the first EP I like that too. If I didn’t I probably would be in this band but this one has a better vibe to it.
Have the lyrics changed from this one to the last one?
John: No, I think we hit a lot of bases in the first EP, maybe too many for some people. I listen to a lot of different styles of music, rock, jazz, blues, funk, hip hop. I spent a lot of years making beats and hip hop for Filthy Funk. All of those influences are in there so even though we are making a rock n roll band there are a lot of different elements in these songs. The new EP has that variety and are not super similar to each other.
Ben: They definitely have their own little world, but there is definitely a vibe that carries out throughout all of them so it doesn’t sound like each song is a different band. You are walking a tight rope when you start blending a lot of different genres. It is difficult to do right but I think we are on to something.
John: I think younger people can appreciate the variety a little more than older people. With mixtape culture younger kids are used to hearing so many different things. People buy singles and jump around a lot. Older people really want a cohesive vibe and prefer to listen to a whole album and have a steady style.
Ben: People listen to their IPods on shuffle now, so it’s easier to jump around with styles.
So the EP is only online right now correct?
John: I am not going to make CDs for this EP I just released it digitally. It is on iTunes, Spotify, and Bandcamp. I think I have had the most luck with Bandcamp it’s easy and they offer a ton of different formats, such as flac so you can listen to cleaner versions of the music. Its name your own price on Bandcamp so you can get it for free or donate for the music.
When is your next show?
Ben: We have a gig at Bug Jar on September 24th with Branch Davidians and as well as a show earlier at Temple Bar and Grill August 27th with Upward Groove.
Are you working on new music now?
John: We always have new tunes in the works. In early fall we are going to put out another 3 or 4 song EP. We might compile our EPs into a full album later on and actually make CDs. CDs are tricky I don’t want to make a bunch when it is not worth to do so.
Ben: I am going through the same thing with my other band, Branch Davidians. I want to do a release party but I don’t know if I should burn CDs or just give a download card for it.
John: People like the DIY stuff, you can burn a CD and draw your own art work onto it and people seem to enjoy it. I would love to make vinyl for this band but it is expensive.
How does the song writing process go?
John: I am the main song writer so I kind of write the stuff and bring it down to these guys and make sure they are digging it. They give a lot of good feedback as far as the arrangements. Ben and I have been playing music together for almost two decades. We were in Super Fly Shoe Strings and had some songs on WBER; it was Rage Against The Machine meets Beastie Boys and Beck. Very 90’s.
Ben: Flute player, rapper, DJ, it was all very late 90’s it only lasted one summer but it was fun.
John: We have very similar taste in music so if he likes it I know I will as well.
How long has Blue Falcon been together?
John: Two years, something like that. It is hard to say. Do you go by the first show or when you first started jamming with someone? I don’t think we had the solidified line up until about a year ago.
Everyone in the band is in other bands and play a wide range of styles what made you choose more of a rock feel for this band?
John: For me it I used to just be a guitar guy. I liked to lean towards intricate stuff and soloing and I hit a guitar nerd world. I didn’t start singing until I was like 35 and that was a couple years ago. When I would try and write a song I realized I could sing and do a lot of the stuff I did before doing two things at once. It brought me back to my roots doing rock n roll stuff. It just felt right.
Ben: My interests are very similar; we both grew up doing progressive stuff and shredding. We were both shredder types and then my journey has been learning how to strip back and do less. More Ramones and less Rush so doing this straight rock stuff is more exciting, something more simple and effective instead of going more complex which gets less interesting over time.
John: He got into singing many years before me, right after Super Fly. At that time I was all about guitar and making beats.
Ben: We split ways for a little bit. I would come and lay bass lines on beats for him and that kind of thing, but we weren’t working together that much.
John: [Ben has] been a huge help for me getting me into singing and offering feedback and support. I want to write songs and that’s what I’m interested in. I had so much experience playing more in the jam band world even though Filthy Funk wasn’t a jam band we attracted that crowd. I have done that so many times that I am kind of over it. I enjoy it, but I was looking for something with more substance.
Ben: There is something to be said about is when you come up with a song and it is a marriage between lyric and melody that comes together the right way that is greater than the sum of its parts and connects with an audience. In guitar nerd world it is so easy to get involved in that and pretty soon you are trapped in your own head and you forget that you are supposed to be communicating with someone.
John: And communicating with regular people. One thing I experienced is that when you play instrumental stuff you find your audience is all musicians, guitar players and drummers, who focus more on the technique rather than the song itself.
Ben: The conversation is never that it really touched them; it becomes real technical like a bunch of mathematicians sitting around and talking theory. There is nothing wrong with that, but to be worth your salt as a musician you have to figure out how to use your vocabulary that resonates with people who are not musicians. It’s exciting and challenging.
John: People around here know me for guitar and some of these people listen to the new stuff and ask why I am not shredding and I have to explain that I am trying to write songs. I have done the guitar thing and I want to develop a new skill.
Ben: l there is still improve in the songs so we can still let go and rip a solo. We still want that, but it is not our focus. I like to listen to solos don’t get me wrong. I used to just sit in my bedroom and work on playing so I am still just big nerd when it comes to that.\