Blinded by the BlindLight
Interview By Boma Jack
How long have you guys been together as a band?
Sam: We’ve been together a little over two years now.
How did you guys meet?
Joe: I had the band started as something different, like ‘Beware the Bear’ or something before, and then I met Sam in a math class. Then Terry came in out of nowhere.
Sam: Freshman year. Terry and I were in the same gym class, and Joe and I were in the same math class. Then the next year, Joe came to me saying he needed a drummer for his band and I was like, “Well sure!” So then, he gave me a song to drum to so I could practice and play it.
Why the name The Blindlight? I know you guys had a different name originally, but then, you changed it to The Blindlight.
Sam: Yeah, there’s been like three different changes.
Joe: There was ‘Pariah’.
Sam: There was ‘Beware the Bear’.
Joe: ‘Beware the Bear’ was first.
Sam: Then, we decided that was stupid.
Joe: Then we went to ‘Pariah’.
Sam: Then we found out there were like 50 other bands named ‘Pariah’.
Joe: Even in the Baltimore area.
Sam, Terry: Yeah.
Sam: Then about a year ago, we were sitting in Terry’s car and I was lying back in the recline position, and I turned the light on and I was like, “Ah that lights blinding…Blindlight.” I don’t know why that just came to me.
Terry: And we both just started saying Blindlight back and forth.
Sam: And we’re looking at each other like, “Blindlight, Blindlight, Blindlight, Blindlight, Blindlight.”
Joe: Then people started thinking it was Limelight.
Sam: Yeah. So then, a week later, we were like, “Let’s just add the word ‘the’ in front of it.” So then, we had ‘The Blindlight’. Terry and I were so stoked because we finally got a name down and then, we knocked on Joe’s door frantically like, “Blindlight”. He was like, “I like it.”
Terry: So, we’ve been rolling with that one ever since.
Sam: Yep, and it’s pretty original. It doesn’t seem like anyone else has that name.
Joe: ‘Blindlight’ is one word.
Sam: There is a deeper meaning to that than just looking at a lightbulb. There’s two parts to it; the light is kind of a metaphor for the goals you set as a band or that you set personally, and then, the blind is that you might not know how to get there at first, but if you keep trying, you’ll get there.
Terry: Yeah, there is a deeper meaning. Whatever anyone can take from the name, that’s pretty much what I take from it.
Is that how you write your lyrics?
Terry: With this stuff mostly. Except for like one or two songs, we all pitch in ideas and stuff. But with an idea, it’s just the concept of how I’m feeling. That’s why they’re all so different and have a different feel. When the concept of the instrumentals are done, I write lyrics on top of that, like how the song made me feel and what it made me think about.
Sam: A lot of our songs are like that; pretty much the entirety of our demo was like writing the music and then throwing the lyrics on top.
Terry: Yeah, because you guys had the samples of all the songs done, and then I jumped in and started writing lyrics.
How does your writing process work?
Joe: Define “writing process”.
Terry: When I first started, like I said, they already had bits and pieces of the song already written and I had to throw lyrics on top of it. Like if there’s an idea, Joe can just easily record it and then it will just stem into a whole new song. Depending on how the song makes me feel, I’ll start adding lyrics. If I’m stuck on a part, Sam or Joe will help me out.
Joe: We usually write 30 seconds of a song, we stop and then go to another song. But we’ll always come back to it, and the 30 seconds that we recorded are always really, really good. So, we have to build off of something that’s really, really good.
Terry: We have like a thousand 30 second recordings.
Sam: And then, we’ll come back to them and be like, “No this one sucks, this one sucks…”
Terry: We could be like a grindcore band and just have 30 second recordings. That’s how we start; we just get ideas and record them, and you don’t want to forget the idea. If you get inspired by anything, you want to remember that. You started playing it for a reason, so you want to sort-of build off of it.
Sam: Sometimes I’ll be walking, I’ll come up with an idea, and I’ll take my phone out and record my feet doing a little pattern or something like that.
Terry: And I write lyrics all the time. If I can make a lyric fit to a song or the feeling of a song, like in our song “The Living Dead”, some of the lyrics I already had and the lyrics fit right on top of that. We had lyrics for it before, but it didn’t make any sense because it’s such an aggressive song. The lyrics that we had originally were just so chill, like it didn’t make sense.
Sam: They were like a ‘Memphis May Fire’ break-up song lyrics on top of like ‘Meshuggah’ beats/ ‘Cannibal Corpse’.
Terry: It made no sense, so I just threw aggressive lyrics in there.
Any new music coming out?
Sam: It’s been rough. We had two members we had to let go because they had other stuff going on, like theater and sports; stuff like that. So, it’s been tough trying to get everybody together.
Joe: We’re starting to pick ourselves back up.
Sam: Yeah, pretty much two years ago, we started from the ground. With equipment, recording and knowing people for shows.
Joe: I think we’re starting to find ourselves a lot more.
Terry: Yeah, something like that.
Are you guys going for a new sound previous from what you’ve been doing?
Sam: There is a little bit of that going on. Most of it is still our original stuff.
How many songs do you guys have on your demo?
Sam: We have 3 on the demo; that was probably about last year. We’ve written a few more songs to put on an EP that we’re trying to get out early this year.
Terry: We’re still using the songs from the demo, but just cleaning them up a little bit.
Sam: Yeah, for the songs on the demo, the drums were programmed. So, I’m going to do my own rendition of that.
Joe: Yeah, it sounds a lot better when he does it.
Terry: Yeah, we didn’t have all the equipment that we have now.
Sam: Yeah, we had no way to record drums.
Terry: We thought about studio stuff, but then it was just easier to self-produce.
Who are your influences as a band?
Joe: Britney Spears.
Sam: Definitely Britney Spears.
Terry: Absolutely Britney Spears.
Terry: I think we can all agree we like ‘Periphery’.
Sam: Yeah, I would say a lot of the newer bands collectively, like between all three of us.
Terry: New and old.
Sam: Yeah, new and old bands, mostly like a lot of djent bands. Let’s see, there’s always going to be ‘Periphery’, they’re a strong influence.
Terry: Yeah, that and ‘Lamb of God’ I think we both all agree on. And ‘Protest the Hero’.
Sam: Yeah. For me personally, I’d say like a lot of older stuff like ‘Led Zeppelin’, and other classic rock bands as well.
Are there any local bands that you’re interested in?
Sam: Yeah, ‘Yugennui’, definitely. They’re really good.
Terry: They just got back from a winter tour.
Sam: I think their last show was in Baltimore at the Ottobar. Honestly, they’re amazing musicians.
Terry: I still need to see them live, but I talk to them at school all the time.
Sam: They’re really good live.
Terry: I hope we get to tour with them one day.
Sam: Their recordings are really good too, but they’re musicianship is exceptional.
Terry: So, a local band I like…I’ve been friends with these dudes for a while, ‘Noisem’, it’s some like death-y thrash band. They just exploded out of nowhere. They’ve been on tour with the ‘Black Dahlia Murder’. They’ve toured around a lot.
Terry: Joe, who do you like?
Joe: They’re not together anymore, which really upsets me, but ‘Life on Repeat’. They were so good, but sadly, they’re not together anymore. If not ‘Life on Repeat’ then probably ‘Yugennui’.
How did you guys get into music?
Sam: Well, I like hitting things.
Terry: He’s an angry kid.
Sam: My dad told me this story where every time we’d go to a Chinese restaurant, I would take the chopsticks and just start taping and I think my parents told me, “Whatever you do, you have to play a musical instrument.” I don’t know why that was a criteria for being a son. I got my first kit when I was 12, so I’ve been drumming for almost 7 years.
Terry: I always liked listening to music. I thought the concept of music was very fun. My parents liked ‘Guns N’ Roses’, ‘Metallica’ and awesome bands like that. Then I got into heavier stuff, ‘Slipknot’ was my transition into the screaming thing and I thought it was so interesting. I thought to myself that this is obviously not like a norm thing; it’s not on TV, and it’s not on American Idol or whatever, so it’s obviously different. Then I started doing vocals, and I was in a band when I was in like middle school. It was a disaster. I played one show with them, and I forgot all the words when I was up there. I figured no one knew what I was saying anyway, so I just started screaming random stuff. Then everyone was like, “Oh you did such a good job.” I was like, if you were me, you would know I fucked up so bad. I was so bad, it was so funny. I love playing live, even though it sucked forgetting the lyrics. I loved being up on stage and just like scream my face off, and it’s such an expression. I got my first guitar maybe my first year of high school? I got a Jackson Kelly. I did it for the look but, I kind of fell in love with Jackson guitars in general. I love anything with guitars, guitar repairs, playing them and stuff like that. But vocals are my main thing. I like playing music and screaming at people.
Sam: And I like playing music and hitting things. Together, we’re a violent band.
Terry: Usually, I don’t scream unless I’m like on stage or whatever. It’s just a great way of expression.
Sam: We’re all pretty chill people until we start playing music.
Terry: It’s a whole different persona.
Terry: I think that’s what’s weird about metal. Everyone thinks that we’re all angry but then you just talk to us-
Sam: And we’re chill.
Terry: Yeah, it’s just so we’re not uptight.
Sam: Joe, how about you?
Joe: I grew up in a long line of musicians. My dad was a drummer and a singer, my mom was a singer. It goes on forever. I got my first guitar when I was about 8 years old and it was a really cruddy Fender Squire Stratocaster, but I used to be obsessed with it, I loved playing it, and I went into guitar lessons. After like two months I was like, “I’m sick of this; I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to learn by myself.” So, I never went back and then I picked up drums, which I did for many, many years. And I went to lessons and was like, “I’m sick of this, I want to learn by myself.” So then, I went back to guitar and I’ve been at it ever since. And I do clean vocals in the band, alongside this guy right here, Terry Jones. He’s one of the best vocalists in the land.
Do you guys have any other hobbies aside from music?
Sam: I shoot guns. I’m a little bit of a redneck.
Terry: I’ve been playing it safe recently, but I skate sometimes. I try not to hurt myself as much as I used to.
Joe: Didn’t you just hurt yourself?
Terry: Yeah, I messed up my ankle skating, but I try to play it safe. But yeah, I like skating, snowboarding, anything that’s active and fun. I like doing guitar repairs, I know that’s music related but still.
Joe: For me, my hobbies are photography and graphic design. I’m better at photography than I am at graphic design. And I’m an audio producer, so I like anything that’s studio work. Music is pretty much my life, but other than that I sleep.
Where do you guys see the band in the next year or so?
Sam: Hopefully, we have our EP finally out. Hopefully, we’ll be playing a lot more.
Joe: We’ll definitely be playing a lot more.
Sam: Ideally a tour.
Terry: Yeah, we’ll definitely play more shows.
Sam: More shows, getting the EP out. The EP is going to be called ‘The Blindlight’.
Terry: Yeah, it’s a self-titled EP.
Sam: There’s going to be 6 songs.
Terry: Hopefully, we can get some merch. Bands are usually broke and that’s the only way to really get any money. To pay for all those microphones we just bought, we need to get some money back from that. Recording yourself is not cheap. Any last words you would like to say before we end the interview?
Sam: Thank you for the interview. It’s been a great opportunity, and I love playing music.
Joe: Yeah, thank you so much.
Terry: It was awesome. Everyone hold it to us, Blindlight 2015. Don’t let us not do stuff.
Joe: I’m really proud of all of us, including Terry Jones and Sam Strauser.
Sam: And Joe Sullivan.
Joe: We’re all just pretty much a family and we just love to play music.
For more of The Blindlight, check them out on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ametalband
About the Author:
Boma Jack is a photographer with Lost in Sound Photography, writer for Alchemical Records Magazine and drummer for Baltimore based rock band Steel Samurai.