[Casey] For the most part, I'd like to ask you a few questions about your latest music project Bliss City East, but have always been interested and wanted to take a moment to find out how it all got started. Could you maybe give a little history for those who might not be so familiar with your music?
[Perry] Ha! Need to try and make this short. Honestly this project started out as a way for me to be able to play live shows. I am in another band, Skylight, that has been around on and off for many years now. Skylight's guitar players live in Boston, so all of us trying to get together to do shows seemed almost impossible. I felt like I needed a lot more then that. So I sat at home with my guitar and started making this music. I was amazed as to how quickly it all came to me. I think at the time I was going through some serious life change. (The Sun is Cold) came out of that. The music to me was bliss. And after sharing it with Skylight's singer Kim we thought, yeah let's do something with this. We tossed names back and forth so many times. Until we settled on bliss.city.east. Bliss for the music. City because I love the city. And East because of my infatuation with Asian culture and the fact that I am from the east coast (NYC).
[C] From what I understand, Bliss City East started out as a solo project for you last year, but has since turned into a full band. Who are the new musicians in the lineup and where did you find them?
[P] Well. This is a long story. Brent from Skylight, who lives in Boston, has been helping me with this on and off. And of course Skylight's singer Kim Welsh has been in the mix from the start. I knew for a fact that I would not sing many songs. I am really enjoying the guitar playing these days. Skylight was looking for a keyboard player and Gail, our now bass player, had contacted me about it. I had a long talk with her about the music and she agreed to come in and do some singing and play keys. It was magic from the start, honestly. To have that combination of two female vocalists was something I really wanted. At that point, I thought it was time to get this together and start to think about live shows. We needed a bass player so she asked somebody who is in Gail's band A.V.P. here in Chicago. (Check A.V.P. out at the bliss MySpace page. ) So she brought in Reuben who now plays guitar! Somewhere down the line, Gail ended up switching from keyboard to bass and vox. Reuben went over to guitar and Kim took on the keys. We have been told it was the best move we could have made! Everybody does the job they are supposed to do. I write the songs. They come play them. It's amazing. Last but not least I recently added Dan Diaz into the mix. Dan is a veteran, no doubt. He has been in many bands and knows what he is doing. He adds so much to bliss.city.east. Just completes the sound. He recently began writing new songs with me so watch out! I feel like things are going to get much better. Now if we can find a drummer to complete this, we will all be happy.
[C] I've read articles about your music describing it as shoegaze-related and have used the general term experimental in my own reviews of BCE. How do you describe your music? Is there any specific formula you follow when developing a song?
[P] Never a formula. I write whatever the hell comes out of my head honestly. Or whatever I happen to be drinking at the time. We do experiment a lot though, so you are correct. We use a lot of disco beats or dance beats. We are huge fans of 70s disco and funk as well, but we always keep the wall of guitar sound. The loud, washed-out guitar will never go away for us. It is how I write all of the songs. We even experiment with keyboard sounds which is something I have never really done. It is seriously funny you asked me this. Because recently I was trying to describe what we are doing. What kind of music is it. It's true that I came from the shoegaze scene in the early 90s. I still love the music and all the new bands coming out of it. A lot of Skylight's music might fit the shoegaze bill a bit better? For me though, its really hard to say. I think I leave it up to the people who like the music and let them decide just what it is that BCE is doing. I have been told that the BCE sound is different and that we are headed in a new direction. It makes me happy to hear this, honestly. I am, of course, very happy to be told we have a shoegaze style or sound. I will always embrace that. Always.
[C] This is a question I've been looking forward to asking you. I've heard it mentioned that there are some connections between yourself and frontman Adam Franklin of legendary 90s band Swervedriver. If this is true, when and how did you meet him? Do you stay in contact with Adam at all these days?
[P] Adam Franklin. Just a really amazing guy. I met Adam during one of Swervedriver's first tours here in the States. I think it was in 1991. It was in Boston at TT the Bear's. This is when Skylight was just starting out actually. They were leaving for Japan not long after that. I was at the bar and somehow met Adam. We were drinking Red Stripe and looking at the translation book the record company gave him. How to say Japanese words. We had a laugh, had a talk and he went to do the show. That was honestly the most amazing show i ever saw them do. I hung off the monitors on the side of the stage while they blew my ears out. I swear that is when I went partially deaf. We kept in touch after that on and off. Mostly via shows and through other people. I spent some time with Swervedriver during the Mezcal Head era as well, in England and the states. The last time I saw Adam until recently was in the late 90s in NYC. After that we did not talk for years until about a year ago, I believe it was. Recently Adam was touring with The Church and his bass player broke his foot. I offered to fill in for him in Chicago. I only had two days to learn the songs after Adam sent me the set list! It was nuts! The night before the show we had a huge thunder storm here and we lost power. I woke up the morning of the show to start learning the songs when I got an email from Adam saying they were all covered. What a relief! The Church's keyboard player was taking it all on! I was never more relieved in my life, honestly. I had been shitting myself at the thought of actually learning all of the songs in time. The night of the show, I thanked the Church's keyboard player for doing it. I was really thankful. I had not seen Adam in years. We had a smoke and a chat and said goodbye. It was really nice to see an old friend.
[C] It seems that many bands have recently been following the trend of keeping their music strictly online using social networking sites and blog exposure instead of performing live or releasing physical copies of their music. Your thoughts on this? Are there any plans for BCE to tour in the near future and can we expect any newly-released music or BCE related projects for the remainder of 2009?
[P] Well things like MySpace have really opened up a new world for musicians, no doubt. The exposure is fantastic for all of us. We can instantly share our music with the people who want to hear it, instead of making cassettes like we used to do and passing them out to everybody. It also really gives a chance for the fans to directly interact with bands. We recently sent a note off to this Foals band who in turn answered it. Its really nice to see that SOME bands actually take a moment to answer questions or messages. The blogs are a hit and miss. I love the music blogs. I appreciate everything they do for bands because its exposure that we would have never gotten years ago. What I always liked most about MML is the fact that you cover the spectrum and always asked if you can include a free download.
Then we have other blogs that are offering artists whole albums for download. Those are the ones that are really pissing me off. This a discussion that Adam and I had recently when we discovered his new album being offered up for free at a blog site. The justification from these guys has always been the same. 9 out of 10 people who download this stuff buy it? I think it's bullshit, honestly. I know some people do. But I have a very hard time believing that 9 out of 10 purchase after they hear it. Of course it's piracy. And I could go on for hours about it. But I won't. :)
As far as live shows and physical copies of music. We have already started playing live shows in Chicago. We are actually playing in St. Louis this weekend with Stella Mora and fellow Chicagoans Panda Riot. From there we will be going on 3 day and 1-2 week stints all over the States. Details are being worked on now for this. This will be followed by a week in the UK and possibly another one week in South Korea. They love BCE and Skylight over there! It's really cool. BCE have a limited edition EP coming out this week. It is a CDR that comes with a sticker and some other cool stuff. This will be followed up by a full release from our record label Cloudragon. They have been really great with us and very patient! They recently released a compilation. It has Skylight on it so check it out!
Related LinksExclusive MP3: Psychic (BCE 2009)
Previous MML Reviews:
Skylight - March 2008
Skylight - September 2008
Bliss City East - December 2008
Bliss City East - May 2009
Adam Franklin/Swervedriver - May 2007
Bliss City East MySpace