I'm home today in my heart and my head, and the songs reflect that process. They're the stories of how I got home.” Now based in Mendocino, California, after spending several less than successful years in Seattle, Blue’s home, and for that matter, lifestyle, is the very definition of rustic. No mod cons, no cell phone reception for miles... the man lives in a geodesic dome made of trees felled from the spot, for crying out loud.
(Actually, it’s a historic dwelling, built in the 60’s by the grandson of Hiram Bingham IV, a diplomat who performed heroic acts during WWII and the brother of the discoverer of Machu Picchu.) The mental image is a head-shaker, to say the least. Here’s a guy who worked with John Cale and once fronted 10 Minute Warning, a raging band that, among its members, included Duff McKagan — fresh off the ultimate in balls-out rock and roll trips, Guns N’ Roses. McKagan eventually bailed when Geffen started waving wads of cash and a solo career in his face, and Blue did what most guys in his position would have done: he got wasted and tried to put the pieces back together. What he did put together was Sensation Junkies, which Blue ruefully describes as “a band that didn’t exist.” The recordings were well received, but the label sent him on the road as a solo act. “I toured alone, playing first on bills,” says Blue laughingly, “and it was like Willie Nelson showing up to support Radiohead.
I’d walk on stage, and people who came to see Sensation Junkies looked at me like 'who the hell are you?’...Well, I’m that guy! It was a cringeworthy experience the labels like to call ‘Profile Building,’” he chuckles. Then there was that little incident in Kansas, where Blue landed himself in the clink. “It was just like in the movies,” he says. “The patrolman walked up to the van and called me 'son,' and a few minutes later I was in handcuffs. They don’t like you driving around with a bunch of green stuff in the car.
It seemed like a good time to move to Mendocino,” Blue recalls. “I became a vegan, and decided to take responsibility for myself and my health. No one else was going to take care of me — it was as if I had to be my own honey. I had to fall into my own arms.” Statements like that are what inform room tones with its poetic sense of painful lessons finally learned.
Track after track play out like a journey, and each is a story rich with cinematic imagery. Whether Blue is walking down railroad tracks thinking about what was and what could be (“Such Love”), looking for simplicity by “Turning out the lights and letting the wheels spin,” (“Equanimity”), or seeing things in front of his face for the first time (“Alone”), everything he’s saying can be seen as well as heard. Lyrics play out against spare piano, drums, and guitar effects that unfurl gloriously despite their resigned melancholy. The cinematic quality of room tones is something Blue credits to producer DC Cooper, a lifelong friend with experience in the film industry. “DC heard what I had and asked if I could put it in his hands, because he had a vision of what I needed to become.
I said ‘hell yes!’ I was excited to be taken in a new direction, we worked on making the songs sound sexier, which is something I didn't know how to do with lyrics that were so personal. His idea was to simplify rather than complicate. It was recorded in three days, after I’d labored over the course of years. He said, ‘I'll be the captain, and you play boat in the tree house.’” Rich with musical clarity and a new-found emotional vocabulary, Blue's new work calls to mind artists as diverse as Nick Drake and Joseph Arthur.
Spareness provides a subtle backdrop for the thoughts of a man who has finally figured out what he wants, and realizes he has only himself to rely upon to get it. room tones is warm and simple in tone, but entirely complicated in thought and sentiment. Just like home. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more