Blind Melon in Maximum Ink in March 2008
The two associations that Blind Melon will always have are with the girl in the yellow and black bee costume from the video for their 90’s alternative chestnut, “No Rain” (a tune which reached #20 on the Pop Charts and even earned a Weird Al parody), and the drug overdose of their original lead singer, Shannon Hoon, in 1995. Indeed, when I met him as a underager in 1993 after sneaking into Marquette University in Milwaukee to see them, drugs was a subject he mentioned almost immediately. Although an album of outtakes and live performances followed (named Nico after the newborn daughter Hoon left behind) and the band went on a search for a new singer, the public would not accept them and the band broke up before the end of the decade.
So when Brad Smith, bassist of Blind Melon, was producing a demo for an artist named Travis Warren in 2006, getting the band back together wasn’t even on his mind. “There was something about him that reminded me of Shannon”, he said, “and I thought we could just try playing a couple songs. I called the rest of the guys in to jam after that and after about ten seconds we knew that this would work.” As far as the name’s concerned, it’s been said that it comes from blues artist “Blind Lemon” Jefferson or that it was a slang term for unemployed hippies in the bass player’s Mississippi hometown. He told me that it was a nickname that his father used to call him and his friends when they’d come over- a bunch of “Blind Melons.” In any case, it fit in with the trend for weird two-word juxtapositions that we all loved during the Grunge Age. And speaking of ages past, what does Smith think about bringing that music back after being gone for over a decade? He said, “I never thought we’d get a chance to play these songs again and I made my peace with it. But here we are and it’s not like a reunion. We’re releasing a new record in April and you’re going to hear all the old stuff. We’re playing for people that didn’t have a chance to see us the first time through and we’re going to keep it going as long as we can.”
I talked to him the day after the first show of the tour and even after a day of interviews, you could hear the excitement in his voice. It doesn’t sound like a money grab for him. He really is loving this resurgence. They’re back at The Rave in Milwaukee on March 18th and their new record For My Friends comes out on April 22nd. Because Hoon was friends with Axl Rose and even sang on Use Your Illusion, I asked Smith if he knew anything about the long-awaited Chinese Democracy, but unfortunately, he said there hasn’t been communication with that camp for a long time.
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CD: For My Friends Record Label: Adrenaline
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