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By Meghan Goth

Though they’ve been together for nine years, alternative rock band Bluf is making its place in the music world without what most bands seek first – a label. The Cincinnati natives say they want to go as far as they can without a label and seem to be on the right track.
“Our plan now is to do and go as far as we can by ourselves,” said Ben Rubin, who plays drums for Bluf. “So by the time we’re ready for a label and a label is ready for us, it’s really a partnership.”
With vocals that can range from sounding like Dave Matthews to Brandon Boyd of Incubus, Bluf’s musical diversity from song to song is what will keep fans listening, which is just their plan. While in the midst of their tour, the band will play May 19 at The Mad Hatter in Covington, Ky.
At the show, fans can expect to hear the songs posted on Bluf’s MySpace page, as well as some new tracks.
The band describes itself as having a diverse sound classified as alternative rock, though they like to play other things. The band compares itself to bands like Tool, Incubus, Deftones and Fuel.
The four-member band is made up of three brothers, Elliott (guitar), Evan (bass) and Ben Rubin, who all went to Lakota High School. The fourth member, Ian Mellencamp, sings and plays the guitar.
“We’re playing as many shows as we can right now,” Ben said.
The band has recorded two CD’s: A Strange, Unusual, Odd Situation and Intellectuallica and are currently working on a third.
“We have a lot of songs that have been recorded so the idea is to record some more songs and have a full length CD by late summer or early fall,” Elliott said.
Bluf prides itself on the fact that they work hard to create both good music and lyrics. Mellencamp writes the lyrics, which, he said, are a reflection of the way he thinks.
“I like to write a little bit outside the box,” Mellencamp said. “It varies between each song. [The lyrics are] partly to make you think about things in a little different way. It offers a different perspective and it makes the song that much more of a connection that you can relate with.”
The band’s favorite original song is “Tether”, which according to Ben, shows a lot of creativity in Bluf’s songwriting and individual musicianship.
“There are a lot of parts that showcase each individual player and we play well together,” Ben said.
The band is currently living in a house in Mason and works on its songs in the basement. They don’t plan to sign a label anytime soon or “sell their souls for 15 minutes of fame” as they say other bands do every day.
“We’re definitely waiting for a little while now,” Ben said. “And be able to team up as opposed to them kind of taking control of us is what we will be looking for.”
Want more info on Bluf? Some of their songs are available to download from their Website,, and others can be purchased from their Myspace page.
- The News Record (University of Cincinnati)

"Formed while in high school, the members of Bluf have turned their band into a mature, deep Hard Rock force with enough creative twists to grab music snobs' attention, but an intense melodicism that could easily land them on Rock radio playlists."
- CityBeat Magazine

Cincinnati's youngest and arguably the most talented power rock trio got into the studio to record three songs with producer Erwin Musper. The name BLUF could easily be misconstrued if their musical chops were not up to par. But this is a band that is wise beyond their years and silly enough to stay grounded. This session plowed ahead almost too effortlessly.

Things went so smooth that they found themselves two days ahead of schedule before the mixing session was going to begin. 'Keep rocking ' was the only option and another song was completed just in time before mixing.

The results are ultra-heavy but with an intruiging twist. Metal for the thinking man. I would call it Intellectuallica.

- Erwin Musper - The Bamboo Room

If Ian Mellencamp wants to stay in the family business, he has a couple options: electrician or rock star. For now he is pursuing both.

Mellencamp, a 2001 Lakota West High School graduate, has a day job working as an electrician for his dad's Beacon Electric in Sycamore Township. A lot of nights he can be found fronting the local modern rock band Bluf, trying to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, legendary rocker John Mellencamp.

"They are different careers. They don't really cross over," Mellencamp said with a laugh.

Mellencamp grew up in West Chester. His dad, Joe, has been an electrical contractor in Greater Cincinnati for two decades.

For now the rock career holds some promise. Constant gigging has produced a loyal following for Bluf's catchy, heavy melodic sound with thickly textured thundering guitar chords. The 22-year-old Mellencamp is a powerful lead singer, with his lyrics rich in dreamy imagery.

The band started out as a cover group, influenced by Dave Matthews, playing and winning band battles at high school competitions and quickly moved to writing and performing original material. The group, together five years, was formed among close friends at Lakota West. Rounding out the quartet are Zach Bolander (guitar) and brothers Evan Rubin (bass) and Ben Rubin (drums). The close relationship continues as the four now share a band house in Mason.

The group's tight, well-honed sound shows these are young rockers who have clearly grown up learning their rock lessons together.

"We all started together and have grown musically together. We pretty much learned the instruments together," Mellencamp said. "We've all been taking lessons individually and progressed as a band."

When it comes to getting career advice from "Uncle John" about music, Mellencamp said he has always been reluctant to play that card. He wisely says he wants the band to make it on its own, not because of any rock lineage his name implies.

"I really haven't pursued much with him," Mellencamp said. "I'm just trying to see what I can do on my own. I just really enjoy playing and want to see where it goes. I've talked to him a little and want to talk to him more about the business and get ideas about that. I certainly don't want to get anything from him."

Indeed, Uncle John, who has often had a contentious relationship with the music business dating back to the days that his label unilaterally saddled him with the name "Cougar," would likely have some frank words for his nephew about how the business can be nasty and brutish.

"A couple years ago I started asking him about it and that's pretty much what he said - stay away from the business," Mellencamp said with a laugh.

When John Mellencamp inquired how Ian's band sounded during an interview at his recent Riverbend appearance, he was told it seemed his nephew has been listening to more Fuel records than Mellencamp classics. The rocker replied with a smile, "That's good. Tell him to keep it that way."

Mellencamp rightfully suggested his nephew is probably more musically influenced by his father. "Joe's a great singer, man. Really is."

Indeed, Ian said music was frequently being made in his house growing up in West Chester. "My dad used to play in a band and I'd go up on stage once in a while when I was real young."

Ian has probably been influenced by one aspect his uncle's career is noted for - solid writing.

"It's got to be the most important part of a band," Ian said. "There's a ton of bands out there that have guitar players that are technically up there. But songwriting is what it comes down to."

Last year Bluf starting to extend its reach, playing regionally from northern Ohio to Nashville, working some 160 dates. The band just returned from a gig in New York City and at a Harrisburg Pa., music showcase. Its only release for now is the five-cut "A Strange Unusual Odd Situation."

The group is currently shopping a three-cut demo to record labels that was recorded recently in Nashville. Mellencamp said they certainly have enough songs to do a full-fledged album, which they may get to work on before the year's out.

Meanwhile, Mellencamp knows, as the band tours and gets better known, he will continue to get the "Uncle John" questions. He insists he doesn't want the last name to get the band any favors, but also realizes, "It certainly doesn't hurt me."

When jokingly asked if he considered changing his name to avoid the distraction it could bring to, maybe, Ian Cougar, he laughed and said, "Maybe I could change it to something like Leopard." - Cincinnati Post


Bluf: Self Titled(Available everywhere 10.31.07)
1. Tether
2. To You
3. Enough
4. Return
5. Mechanic
6. Reunion
7. Schizo
8. Fix
9. Message from an Alien

Bamboo Room EP (2006)
1. Tether
2. To You
3. Enough
4. Return

A Strange Unusual Odd Situation EP
1.Peaceful Distance
4.Will Not



There are few genuine success stories in pop culture these days. Airbrushed “superstars” follow a carefully scripted rise to glory, but those who have built their careers on hype inevitably crumble under the weight of unbearable expectations. Some claim to have ascended strictly on their own merits, but find it easy to blame others when they fall from favor. Most simply genuflect to the gods of what’s hot now, and sell their souls for fifteen minutes of fame. But there are still a few artists who defy the hype, relying instead on a combination of sweat-equity artistry, finger-on-the-pulse songwriting and powerful live performances to get their point across.

Cincinnati hard rock trio, Bluf, falls into the latter category. Since banding together during high school, Bluf has patiently cultivated a mad following of fans who have, in turn, propelled the band into the forefront of the Cincinnati alternative music scene. Was there some secret ingredient behind Bluf landing at #5 on Alternative Addictions top 10 unsigned bands list? Or landing at #1 on Cincinnati rock station 97.3 WAQZ? Some magic formula that materialized the band on the same stage with the likes of Chavelle, Secret Machines, and 30 Seconds to Mars? Some gimmick, some slight of hand that compelled famed producer, Erwin Musper (David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Van Halen) to proclaim them ‘Cincinnati’s most talented power rock trio?’

In a word – ‘Yes!’ Yet the secret of Bluf’s phenomenal rise in popularity is really no secret at all. It has to do with a tenacious work ethic, a steadfast determination to succeed, an equally adamant refusal to compromise, and oh yeah, the knack for crafting great songs that stick in your head like gray matter superglue.

“We want to combine unique melodies with intelligent lyrics that can open someone’s minds to great thoughts,” explains Bluf’s frontman, Ian Mellencamp. “We’re after something deeper than what you expect to hear on the radio. We want to compel our listeners to look at things from a different perspective.”

Bluf’s phenomenal debut EP, aptly titled Intellectuallica, hammers that message home with an impressive series of solid hard rock anthems that include the moody and atmospheric To You, the enigmatic Enough, and the dichotomous ambient rock ballad, Return. Incorporating every nuance of their instruments, the band describes their music as “…some kind of fusion-ish hard rock-based R&B with ambient, alternative overtones.”

Bassist Evan Rubin points to their song, “Message From An Alien,” as a prime example of their mind opening music. “It’s all about looking at life from the outside-in rather than from our tiny perspective,” he insists.

Though Bluf steadfastly refuses to settle for status quo performances, they insist their music is not some high-minded, esoteric mess that only an art snob could love. “We are a musician’s band,” drummer Ben Rubin admits, “but we work hard to make sure we are accessible to the guy on the street. Bluf’s music is complex, intricate, yet it is easy to make sense of.”

"Bluf is all about making good music," adds Mellencamp. "We’re proud of what we’ve been able to achieve without resorting to gimmickry or some kind of crazy image. Bottom line is this: we want to infect your mind with music. If we can encourage you to look at an issue from a different perspective then our job is done.”