Blameshift is right now known as one of the hardest working bands out there, just ask anyone. They tour constantly, and they do everything and anything to stay connected with their fans. The pride of Long Island, NY (my old stomping grounds), their new album Secrets just came out on November 5 and anyone who hasn’t heard or heard of them will surely know a LOT about Blameshift in the coming months. I had the opportunity to speak with singer Jenny Mann recently, and she gave us the scoop on all things Blameshift:
Amps: Secrets just came out last Tuesday. How’s everybody feel? Excited to get out and bring it to the people?
Jenny: We are so excited. The response has been amazing so far which makes us feel like all our hard work is paying off. This album is a long time coming, so just being able to finally release it has been awesome!!
Amps: Do we have any tour plans lined up yet?
Jenny: We generally tour 7-10 months out of the year so the road is our home. We actually just finished up touring that started in July. We decided to take off for the holidays to spend some time with family, promote our new album and regroup for the New Year. Expect us to see us everywhere starting January!!!
Amps: What is the writing dynamic within the group?
Jenny: I think our writing dynamic is pretty unique considering that we spend most of the year on the road and not much time in a practice studio. What usually happens is when it comes time for us to record, we lock ourselves in a studio for a few weeks prior and write as many songs as possible. Then, when we head out to L.A. to record we just hash it all out in the recording studio. But, like most musicians we are coming up with new ideas for songs every day.
Amps: Jenny, as a singer who is on the road A LOT, what’s your vocal regimen? Any do’s/don’ts?
Jenny: Great question…I’ve never been asked that before. I have actually been thinking about this lately because it has changed over the years. As a vocalist, it is extremely challenging to tour for such an extended period of time and keep good vocal health. Unlike most instruments, anything and everything can affect the voice. I used to be ridiculously strict to the point of stressing myself out. I think that was worse on my voice than anything. When I decided to take a more laid back approach, it seemed to help my voice out more. But, I absolutely ALWAYS warm up. I usually start “buzzing” about 2 hours before the show. I do my actual warm ups about 30 minutes before we play. If I don’t have an opportunity I hum and sing along to the band before me. I also cool down my voice after the set with more “buzzing”. People at the merch table think it’s strange but it’s totally necessary. Also, water and sleep are very important. I try to stay out of smoky venues as much as possible and not talk too loud when I’m in a loud club.
Amps: How have you all changed as musicians and as people since your first album and tour?
Jenny: Wow, we have changed and progressed so much as musicians and people since we started. As with anything, with time comes knowledge. We recorded our first “demo” in our drummer’s basement and tried for years to figure out who we were and what kind of music we wanted to make. We tried many different paths but it took years of touring, trial and error and persistence to finally become the band we are now. As musicians we have grown due to our experiences. We are better at our instruments and more understanding of the business of music, which is very important. I think we are a lot more confident now and focused on our goal.
Amps: You’re known as one of the hardest working bands out there. Where does such a work ethic come from?
Jenny: I think work ethic is something that you learn from an early age. My bandmates and I connect on that level. I started babysitting at age 10 and started making money and learning how to manage it. Tim used to make his own beef jerky in middle school and sell it in plastic bags in the lunch room. We grew up knowing that hard work is extremely important if you want to be successful (luck is important too). I think we have just applied that to our band. We never give up on anything. We have had plenty of hurdles but at the end of the day there is always something that keeps us going.
Amps: You’re very big on keeping in touch with fans via social media. Not everyone has realized how vital that is, but you have. How important is it to stay connected that way with your fan base?
Jenny: I think that one of most important things we can do as a band is stay connected with our fans…they should always be a top priority. I always make time to get to know my fans on a name basis and make them feel like part of our family. Without these people who support independent bands like ours, we wouldn’t be able to play music for a living. They keep us going every day and I like for them to know that. Tim actually makes fun of me because he can say, “What’s the name of that girl from St. Louis with the black hair? She’s short and comes with her brother?” And I’ll say, “Oh, that’s Sarah Smith”. He thinks it’s crazy that I know first and last names to most of our fans. But, I pay attention and like to keep it personal.
Amps: Back to the road for a minute. Do you have a favorite venue or city to play? Somewhere that if you see it on the itinerary you get just a little bit more amped up?
Jenny: I have two that come to mind. I love Fayetteville, NC and St. Louis, MO. We have some amazing fans and friends in both of these towns who have supported us for years. Now, when we go through it feels like a family reunion.
Amps: Tell me about one Spinal Tap moment, if there are any.
Jenny: One that comes to mind took place at a venue in Georgia on the last night of our summer tour with 12 Stones in 2012. We were on a 4 band tour package that included Digital Summer and Throwing Gravity as well. On the last night of the tour I had the idea to prank 12 Stones while they were on stage. So, I dressed up all the guys in my band and the two other bands in drag. There were 12 guys and they all were all dressed in my underwear, bras, bathing suits, skirts, dresses, etc. It still goes down as one of the funniest/craziest tour pranks. The guys all got into it and were dancing and walking around like girls on stage. Classic tour story!
Amps: That’s priceless! What are some of the member’s favorite tracks on Secrets?
Jenny: Some of my favorite tracks are the slow jam at the end called, “Wherever it Goes”, the only love song called “Operating Table” and my duet with Paul McCoy from 12 Stones called “Destroy Your Masquerade”.
Amps: Lastly, tell me something about Blameshift that ISN’T well-known, or even known at all in this day and age of Google and Wikipedia.
Jenny: Hmmm…We warm up every night in the bus together before we get on stage. We like to take a few minutes to come together and get on the same page. This warm-up consists of two acoustic guitars, a drum practice pad, and an awesome country western comedy song that we wrote. We add new lyrics during every warm up. One day, we want to put it as a hidden track on an album 😉
There you have it. Big things-scratch that- BIGGER things are on the horizon for Blameshift. Watch for my fellow Long Islanders Jenny, Tim, and Nathan on tour in 2014, and I can’t recommend new album Secrets enough. So get out there and get it, willya?