Photograph by Anthony Marcano
It is not easy to start a band and stick with it for six years, but that is exactly what rock band Blameshift has done. Consisting of four members from various parts of the United States, Blameshift aims to “make music that doesn’t have an expiration date”; instead of simply trying to fit in with current trends, they create music that can endure for many years to come. Blameshift also makes a point to keep connected with their fans by communicating with them on social networking websites — even including them in music videos
Although Blameshift has undoubtedly worked hard to get as far as they have (and are continuing to move forward), they have had a lot of fun along the way. We talked to their leading lady Jenny Mann about starting out in the music industry, touring, album artwork, what the band members are like, and what their plans are for the future.
RTBB: Let’s start off with the basics; can you tell us more about yourselves?
Jenny Mann (JM): We are Blameshift. We were formed in Long Island, NY, but now our members are from all over the country. I’m from Long Island, Tim Barbour (guitars) is from New Jersey, Vince Monticciolo (bass) is from Pennsylvania and Nathan Saake (drums) is from Missouri.
RTBB: I just love your band name, I’ve heard that one of the band members, James, came up with it. Did you consider any other names before choosing Blameshift?
JM: Well our band name was kind of a fluke. James, who is no longer in the band, did come up with it while we were sitting in his basement. We had thrown around a couple other possibilities, but we liked Blameshift the best. As it turns out, the name has come to represent us as a band because we love to blame each other for everything!
RTBB: What did your family and friends think when you first started your music career?
JM: Our friends and family are supportive now, but it wasn’t always that way. It took awhile before they realized that this wasn’t just a ridiculous dream. They have seen how much hard work we have put in, and realize now that this is our life. Our families really are our biggest supporters now.
RTBB: What sparked your interest in music and the industry itself?
JM: We all come from different musical backgrounds. Tim starting playing the guitar because he found a $100 bill on the floor at a supermarket and his parents let him buy a guitar. Jenny grew up doing musical theater and have been singing for my whole life. We have all been doing music since we were kids. There is pretty much nothing else we know how to do or want to do!
RTBB: What sets Blameshift apart from other breakthrough bands?
JM: I think our sound is a unique blend of female and male vocals, digital elements and pop melodies. We are always coming up with new ways to set ourselves apart from other bands in our genre, we definitely like to push the envelope as far as our live show goes too. We run a full light show which definitely helps us stand out when we are on tour!
RTBB: What general direction are you advancing towards?
JM: We are definitely shooting to be a band with longevity. We aren’t trying to be trendy and fit with the current mold. We want to make music that doesn’t have a expiration date so that we can have a long career.
RTBB: What provoked you to remain a band after difficult obstacles?
JM: Being in a band is not as glamorous as most people think. It’s definitely a constant battle to keep everything going…but we pride ourselves in the fact that we have been going strong for 6 years. Most bands that we have been friends with over the years have broken up. We just constantly keep focused and positive and it’s worked so far.
RTBB: I noticed you have a great acoustic cover of Wonderwall by Oasis on YouTube.
JM: Thanks. Tim and I were actually talking about possible covers to do and at the same time we both said Wonderwall. It was so freaky that we decided we had to do it! I wouldn’t say that Oasis was a huge influence for us…but 90’s rock definitely was.
RTBB: Any artists you would want to collaborate with?
JM: We have been talking a lot about pairing up with a rapper. We think it would be fun and something totally different for us.
RTBB: The album cover for your 2007 album “The Test“ is very intriguing, with the boy between the stage curtains. Is there a special meaning behind it?
JM: That little boy is actually my neighbor. That whole album artwork has a theme of growing up and facing the challenges that come along with it. The boy on the stage represents having your whole life ahead of you…the world is your stage.
RTBB: Do you take part in the creation of your album package?Which were your favorite album-covers?
JM: Yes, we are a 100% hands on band. We come up with the ideas for the album theme and artwork and lay it all out. Our favorite has to be our latest EP for “The Black Rose”. The album artwork was done on the Salt Flats in Salt Lake City, Utah. It brings back great memories for us!
RTBB: Out of everything you’ve recorded, which song influences you the most?
JM: Out of everything we have recorded our favorite songs definitely come from our latest EP, “The Black Rose”. The whole recording process was amazing and the songs depict that. My favorite song probably is One Chance, because it really tells the story about my life. It’s very introspective and honest and I think that’s what people connect with.
RTBB: What is you most unforgettable moment with the band?
JM: There are more tour stories than we can ever begin to write about. There have been some crazy experiences over the years of touring. The crazy story that always stands out in my head is when our bus hit a rockslide in the mountains of Northern California at night. We had a rock stuck underneath our bus and were on the top of a mountain. We were standing in the road over a cliff with our cell phones trying to warn other cars that we were there. We eventually got help, but it was definitely a scary experience.
RTBB: I noticed that we can download your EP, The Black Rose, by liking Blameshift on Facebook.
JM: Yes, you can download our new EP for Free on our Facebook page, just by liking the page. The internet is the only way we really promote. Myspace used to be really big, now it is more of Facebook and Twitter. The internet has made it so easy to access our fans directly and fast.
RTBB: How do you promote your music in general?
JM: We always are carrying around flyers and stickers. Anyone we meet we give them a flyer and tell them to check out the band on Facebook. You wouldn’t believe how much direct contact spreads the word. You just never know who you are gonna meet and it doesn’t hurt to hand them a flyer!
RTBB: What are the differences before and after signing on with a management?
JM: Management just adds in another set of hands to help spread the word and get out there. The more support the better for a band.
RTBB: I have heard that you are shooting another music video and there are plans to include fans like us. Can you tell us what song it will be for and the concept of the music video?
JM: We actually finished shooting the music video last month. We shot it in Brooklyn with an amazing director, Jay Sansone. The video is for the song, Ghost. We did include our fans as extras and it was amazing. The video will premiere this month on MTV.com, Purevolume and AOL music.
RTBB: Could you briefly walk us through the process of creating a song?
JM: Every song is created differently, but it basically starts with Tim writing a guitar riff. Then we expand upon it. Tim and I write the melodies and the lyrics. The songs really come to life when we are in the studio with our producer, Erik Ron. He is our official 5th member. He has been such a strong force behind our music.
RTBB: How do you feel your music has grown since you first formed the band?
JM: Our music has grown so much since we first started playing. For awhile we were trying to find our sound and our place in the music industry. We finally decided to write for us and no one else. Now we write songs that we want to write, not songs that other people want us to write. It has made a huge difference in our band.
RTBB: Do you have any advice for those interested in starting a band?
JM: The best advice we can give to bands that are starting out is get the right group of people. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Make sure everybody is on the same page and is in it for the right reasons. Also, get out on the road. That is where you can really grow your band in every way.
RTBB: There are now many singers and bands playing the OST for movies. Is there any movie that you would love to record for?
JM: We would love to be a part of any movie. Having your song in a movie is great exposure. We aren’t picky!
RTBB: Fun Facts! How do you relieve stress?
JM: We relieve stress by beating each other up. No, hmmm…we like to play football with a plastic football for fun. Or sit at the bar!
RTBB: Fun Facts! Use a phrase (not more than 7 words) to describe your fashion
JM: I would describe my fashion as trashy rocker chic.
RTBB: Fun Facts! Describe your first impressions of each other.
JM: Well when we first met Nathan we knew that he was obsessed with his hair and we were right. We now call him Stamos, short for John Stamos because Uncle Jesse from Full House was obsessed with his hair. We thought Vince was gonna be this scary dude because he is like 6’2. But he is actually the biggest teddy bear. You can’t judge a book by its cover! I don’t know what their first impressions of me were. I have to find out though =)
RTBB: Sneak peek: Are you working on a new song at the moment? Please tell us some of your future plans and things to look out for during the next few months!
JM: We plan on going out to Los Angeles to record more music this Fall/Spring. We have a bunch of songs written that we can’t wait to record. Besides that, we plan on staying on the road full time till the end of the year.
RTBB: Any last words you would like to share?
JM: Check out our tour dates on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/blameshift). You can also download our EP for FREE there. We love meeting new people so definitely stop by our page and say what’s up. Thanks!