Legendary Rock Interviews: Q & A with Blameshift lead singer Jenny Mann

Long Island, N.Y.-based Blameshift performs at Janesville’s Bob’s Back Bar Nov. 10 and Rockford’s Bar 3 Nov. 9. Pictured center, lead singer Jenny Mann. (Photo provided)

By John Parks

Blameshift is a Long Island, N.Y., band that was part of this summer’s Rock’n The Valley concert at Winnebago County Fairgrounds and a band that has spent the better part of the last few years on the road touring, both as a support act and headliner.

Blameshift are preparing a new album called Secrets for a 2013 release and are touring this fall with the band DIVE, including stops in Janesville, Wis., at Bob’s Back Bar Nov. 10 and Rockford at Bar 3 Nov. 9.

I talked to lead singer Jenny Mann about their schedule, their upcoming plans and how they like touring in the Midwest.

Q: You guys are road warriors. You were just home in New York for a little while, but now you’re back out. How are things going? Is it weird and unfamiliar when you go back home?

A: We were home for three weeks, and now we’re back out. We shot a music video in Kentucky for a week, and now we’re out doing some headlining shows on our own before going out with DIVE in November. It’s a little weird going home … takes a little getting used to. I always joke around that there needs to be a place in between tour and home, kind of like the opposite of the purgatory between heaven and hell. There needs to be somewhere where you can just get re-acclimated to real life before you actually go home because it’s so weird just getting used to showering again and eating non-fast food. When you go home and you have all that, as well as family and friends wanting to see you, it’s almost like culture shock, in a way.

Q: You’re in Louisiana and you’re coming our way up north. Is it weird to be playing so many shows in the Midwest and the South, since you’re actually an Upper East Coast band?

A: We’re used to it. We’re actually more comfortable in those areas anymore than we are at home, just because we’re never there. We love the people and the vibe on the East Coast, but we’re really getting used to everyone in the South and the Midwest because we’re touring here so much. We’ll see if the love affair continues this winter when we’re driving around the Midwest in the freezing cold (laughs). We love the Midwest, though, because it seems like the place where rock and roll and bands like us are the most accepted, the fans are awesome. We like touring the coasts, and all but the fans in the middle of the country seem to appreciate and support rock bands more than anywhere else.

Q: What is the latest on your new album?

A: It’s going to be our first full-length album, and it’s going to be called Secrets. We’ve had a couple of EPs, and rather than just put out another six-song mini album, we decided to go back to L.A. where we are recording and put the finishing touches on a full-length album. We’re pretty excited about finally having a full album-length release, and it should be out early 2013.

Q: I can’t really put a category tag on what your music is. Tim (Barbour) plays a heavy guitar, but I’m not sure if you’re hard rock/metal, and you have some really melodic vocals, but I wouldn’t call you a pop band. Are you finding that the kids coming out to shows are pretty diverse as well?

A: I think we’re pretty capable of crossing over genres of hard rock, alternative, even metal. We went out with Straight Line Stitch, who are a really heavy metal band, and we went over great with their crowd. We were a little intimidated at first because we weren’t sure if their crowd would think we were too “poppy,” but it ended up working out to be awesome. I think that the new age of kids coming out to shows are a little more open-minded about seeing a lot of different bands live rather than just one specific genre. I think our songs and set contain a little bit of everything in them, which helps us when we are out in front of different crowds, too.

Q: You guys are pretty active on social media like Facebook and Twitter, and you’re so busy on the road. Is it super easy to remember when you’re bored on the bus, or is it just another thing you have to remind yourself to do?

A: That’s a good question. It’s kind of something I think about all day long, but it’s not all that often that we’re in a service area with coverage where I can update stuff or upload pics (laughs). I do think about it, though, and try to stay up on it because it’s so easy to fall into “tour mode” where you just get used to playing and driving and playing and packing up and driving again, and you can’t forget about staying in touch with family or fans or friends on the Internet. I know a lot of bands that have their management or publicity do their social media, but we don’t do that because we really, really like to stay on top of what’s going on.

Q: You also make it a point to be very accessible to the people who come out to see you guys live. Obviously, that’s important to make a connection with people and makes good business sense, but do you also learn things or benefit from talking to the crowd by hanging out after a show?

A: I’m a huge believer in it, yes. Also, I think it’s really important to hang out and talk to the other bands that are playing a show with you and see their set, which is something that has become a bit of a lost art but is really important. I spent an hour or so hanging out with and talking to not just the audience but the local bands that played with us the other night because there have been bands that have taken the time to do the same for us, and it’s really been helpful over the years. Too many bands complain about how there’s no “scene” or support and forget their own part in it.

Q: That is true, actually. Almost every scene from the grunge scene to the thrash scene had an open network of bands who were invested in seeing other bands and supporting each other.

A: I really appreciate the bands that stick around to see us play. When we’re headlining shows, we’re going on at 11:30 or midnight, and it’s sometimes in the middle of the week. When a younger band has finished their set and wants to stick around to see us instead of going home, that means a lot to me because a lot of bands just don’t stick around. I always want to make sure I am hanging around and seeing their bands and setting the example because if all of the bands don’t have unity and support for each other, then the fans won’t, and without all of that, there is no scene.

From the Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2012, issue

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