Bl'ast From the Past: Santa Cruz Punks Return to NYC After 25 Year Absence
You're playing the east coast this week for the first time in 25 years. What are your memories of the times you came out to the east coast in the '80s?
A lot of the touring was with C.O.C and D.R.I. so that was awesome in itself. We just played all kinds of rad places and it was just such a great scene on the east coast back then. The Cro-Mags Age of Quarrel had just come out and we hung out with them. One of my distinct memories is playing at The Rat in Boston. Santa Cruz skateboards used to give us decks and stickers and shirts to take on the road and throw out at shows. At the beginning of Time to Think, I threw a Slasher board into the crowd. People went ape shit. There were 20 people dog piling to get this thing. After the song, people were still fighting over the board and some huge jock meathead bouncer dude came up to me and started going off saying they were going to kick our asses if we did that again. That was funny. Of course, CBGBs was always a high point to play.
What are you looking forward to being out here in 2014?
We're playing with a band called Villains in New York and that's my friends Jad and Adam's band who I was in a band called Space Boy with. I'm looking forward to seeing them live for the first time. I just hope to run into people I haven't seen in a long time. It would be nice to see the dudes from Cro-Mags and Murphy's Law and Gavin from Burn. Then there's friends from New Jersey we haven't seen in forever. It'll just be nice to hook up with some old friends.
Will Bl'ast be writing new stuff?
That's our primary focus right now. Mike has been writing new songs and I've heard the riffs. It sounds like the best of all three records with more to it. But everyone's schedule is so busy right now. Nick does his solo acoustic thing and Joey is doing Eagles of Death Metal, but it's a priority to make it happen.
Since 'Blood!', Southern Lord also released a triple LP version of your first album 'The Power of Expression'. Is there any push to get some of your other material out there, including the misunderstood final LP, 'Take the Manic Ride'
When you think about it, 'Take the Manic Ride' was one of the most musically advanced records for that time period, but the bummer is the recording is so unsalvageable. Even after attempts to re-master it, it just doesn't really work still. There's nothing we can do with it. I think our only weird option is to re-record it.
I remember when Take the Manic Ride came out. There's was always this constant debate between my friends and I like 'The recording sucks!' or 'No! The mastering sucks!' We all really wanted to like it, but there was just something about it that was off in regards to the technical aspects.
There was a lot of stuff that got lost as soon as we mastered it. We tried to re-mix and re-master it before it was released at a different studio. Even back then, it was pretty much just shot. If we could find the master tapes, we might be able to do something, but until they magically appear like the 'Blood!' reels, it's not going to happen.
So who's coming out to see Bl'ast! Old guys? Young kids?
A great example would be our L.A. show. We played with The Shrine and Nails and some other super awesome younger bands. So there was a solid young crowd there who wanted to see us thinking they'd never have the opportunity. But then you had all these people that are our age who were saying they hadn't seen us since we played Fender's Ballroom. Chuck Dukowski and Pete Stahl and all our old friends were there as well. There was an amazing energy.
A lot of people think of Bl'ast as a band that was very influenced by Black Flag. But to me, I think you're a band that filled the void left by them when they broke up. What do you think?
I totally believe that. Sometimes I think maybe the reason Henry was so pissed off and talked about us is maybe we went in the direction he wished Flag had gone in. We didn't lose our hard edge while still being as musically progressive as possible. Black Flag were definitely an inspiration, but they inspired us to not sound like any other band. Black Flag and SS Decontrol were the primary influence on one of the original guitar players for the band. He wore his influences on his sleeve and I think that might be the reason we always get labelled as a Black Flag copy band.
I heard a story once about Bl'ast playing with Black Flag and your original guitarist went up to Greg Ginn's amp and started writing down the settings. Is that true?
Yeah, it is. I think that's where Henry's gripes with us started. Even we thought it was weird thing to do. We were like 'Oh, come on man!' But by the time he left and we got to our second record, It's in my Blood, we had completely abandoned that. We were doing our own thing. After that album, we were pushing ourselves farther and farther out there musically.