Here's the transcript:
Hearts Bleed Radio: Start off by giving me a little history of The Black Black...
Jon: I started the black black in the fall of 2011. I was frustrated with my band at the time in every way possible, so I tried to create the antithesis band to it. I recorded three demos in my bedroom with my electronic drum kit. I sent the demos to my long time friend Chris and asked if he'd be interested in playing the bass (he was), and then Craigslist turned up our first drummer Johnny. It was super easy, and the band was just fun and easy for the first year with the three of us. We recorded twice, played a bunch of shows and it was just... fun.
Johnny moved to CA, and then we spent a year looking for a new drummer. We had six guys do it in a year. It was pretty awful. Then Tomo came on board, and we finally got moving again... fast forward another year and we just finished recording our first LP. It'll be out on Money Fire Records in September (probably). The band was created as a cross between Big Black, McLusky, and LCD Soundsystem. I don't know if those influences are still obvious, but that was the initial idea.
|L.E.S. Les Paul action at Pianos
HBR: You're playing a lot these days, you have a record coming out... But I want to talk about guitars for a second... I'm a Fender guy, you're a Gibson guy... I don't want you have to defend Gibson, but what do you like about Les Pauls? What do they do for your sound that no other axe will do?
Jon: First and foremost it's playability. I like the way the neck and the fretboard feel on the Les Paul more than Fenders. Maybe I'm just so used to it by now, but it just fits my hands properly. The guitar playing in TBB is a lot more licks than it is strumming chords, and I think the Les Paul is more suited to that than a Strat.
HBR: The weight sits differently too, once you get used to it, it's hard to change. What was your first guitar?
Jon: Yea, that's definitely true. My first electric guitar was actually a Fender Squier...but it wasn't one of the Strat knock offs... then I had an Ibanez for years that was a total pain in the ass. I actually just about stopped playing guitar because the thing was so awful to keep in tune. My first Les Paul actually got me playing guitar again for real like ten years ago. I liked the way it felt so much that I just wanted to play all the time. It totally sparked a new creativity in playing for me. I just loved playing it, and it got me writing a ton. Also, I should at least mention that GNR was a huge influence on me as a kid, so the fact that Slash plays a Les Paul is definitely a strong contributing factor to me playing one.
HBR: So Gibson saved your musical life. I understand, I guess I never had that moment... but it's like that with bands too, there are a lot of groups who I'm like, "Hey, I know they're good, but I just didn't get into them.." What are you listening to these days?
Jon: Hmm... good question. I stream KEXP all day, so whatever they are playing for sure...the new Liars stuff sounds cool, and the new Orwells also. Locally, my two favorite records recently have been Slothrust, and Big Ups. Oh, and the Speedy Ortiz record is really great as well. But really I'm still just listening to the same Fugazi, LCD Soundsytem, and Built to Spill records that I have been for years.
HBR: What's you favorite Fugazi album? I like Red Medicine best, and everyone thinks I'm stupid.
Jon: I don't think that's stupid. Red Medicine is great. I'd put End Hits up there as well. I think those two go really well together. The Argument is probably my favorite though...at least it's the one I find myself putting on the most.
|Jon Daily, equipped for battle
HBR: Were you into Dischord in general?
Jon: Yea, for sure. Well, I basically love all of the 90s DC stuff. But Jawbox, Q and Not U, Beauty Pill, and Black Eyes are all bands from there that I love. All those records are so great. Oh, and pretty much everything from Dismemberment Plan as well. I'll never forget the first time I heard No Kill No Beep Beep by Q and Not U. Definitely a moment where I was like, this is what I've been looking for.
HBR: You're from Pittsburgh. What was the local music scene like there when you were growing up? I assume there were bands in your high school, etc?
Jon: Yea, I played in high school, but I wasn't involved in any scene that existed outside of my parents basement. I played in the punk scene there in the early 2000s though for a little while. It was actually pretty solid there. House parties, and a decent bar scene. People would really come out and support the bands there. I guess there wasn't a lot else to do, so it was kind of the most fun option on any given night. The bars we'd play would always have the stages right with the bar, so people would actually hear you. It was a pretty solid scene...not sure what it's like these days though.
HBR: You have an album recorded. I've heard it (thanks). It's strikes me as being really groove based. Do you approach a song from a bassist's perspective? How are songs assembled in your mind?
Jon: Oh yea for sure. All but a few of our songs are written on the bass, and then generally worked out as a bass and drum tune. It's all about the way the rhythms work between the bass and the drums. Guitars are layered on top usually to accentuate the groove, or add melody. Bass is king for sure, and guitar is totally secondary. I guess on that note, what does it really matter what kind of guitar I play?
We'll save the dream bass article for another date. For now, check out The Black Black at Cake Shop, tonight (playing with HBR favorites, Filmstrip), and on July 5th.
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