Various Blonde
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Various Blonde

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Alternative Psychedelic

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Sep
11
Various Blonde @ recordBar

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Jul
29
Various Blonde @ The Riot Room

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Jul
20
Various Blonde @ Californos

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Music

Press


It's 6:30 on a Sunday evening, and Various Blonde's Josh Allen is a half-hour late to our interview. I don't mind. We're meeting at the Black & Gold Tavern, where there's plenty of beer. Allen, who works as a bartender, is probably used to keeping Sundays to himself. Certainly he's used to keeping Various Blonde to himself.

Allen very much considers himself the proprietor of all that is Various Blonde, running the creative process and controlling as many of the remaining elements as he can. He has been known to joke that the only thing he has no influence over is the clothing his bandmates wear.

When Allen does arrive, he flashes an apologetic smile and orders tequila before starting to brief me on what has changed since he started Various Blonde, in 2008.

For one thing, there's the lineup. These days, Allen has an experienced crew doing his bidding: drummer Mark Lomas, formerly of Black President, and bassist Evanjohn McIntosh, who spent years with Cherokee Rock Rifle. He has also recruited jazz pianist Eddie Moore, of Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle and Diverse.

"When we jammed, when I heard him [Moore], I was like, 'I need to make sure he's never not jamming with me,'" Allen says. "When you've got a bunch of people that get along well, that are all really chill and love the genres that we're pulling from, that's great. Everybody is comfortable with me trying to mix up all of my interests."

There are a lot of interests. Allen designed Various Blonde as a supercollider that conducts all the music he has ever wanted to play. As he tells me about the upcoming Various Blonde album — Summer High, due in the summer — he lists the genres that make up his musical influences. It's almost worrisome in its length and its disregard for sounds that traditionally play well together.

"We'll play a couple funk songs in a row — we'll play a slow soul ballad, and then we'll jam on some prog and jazz stuff," Allen says. "I think when you're doing that, you have a better chance of holding people's interests longer, rather than, like, 'We're going to play all of this for the entire time.' So many bands just pick one sound, and I think we're really good about exploring what we like and not setting limits."

An early listen to some unmastered cuts from Summer High shows a surprising cohesion. "Scripted Future" starts like experimental electronic jazz before Allen pushes some aggressive prog. "Falling Archways" is an abrasive, dissonant instrumental that doesn't push past a minute and a half, but it's one of the most interesting and demanding songs on the record.

All of the tracks are dark and driving. Often there's a brief, ominous buildup — as on "In the Dark" — that leads to a venomous spasm of electric-guitar riffs. The new Various Blonde sounds dangerous.

You'd never get dangerous from Allen, though. He seems perfectly harmless: good-humored, easy to talk to. When I ask him if he's afraid that blending so many different styles of music will result in an imbalance, he's ready with a counterargument.

"I think balance is easy," he says. "Some of the people that I follow, they don't set boundaries for themselves. Miles Davis always played under the big umbrella of jazz, but he did a lot of off-kilter things. He had people playing electric pianos and electric guitars and electric bass, and some people argue that that's not jazz. You can't say there's no jazz essence there.

"Flaming Lips get away with it, too," Allen continues. "They can do a song like 'Do You Realize' and then throw out a cover of King Crimson's '21st Century Schizoid Man.' That's what I love. No one needs to be told, 'Oh, we need more songs for teenagers. Write more of that.'"

Allen's conversation teems with examples like these. He drops references to artists both obscure and globally known, and he talks about sound with an audiophile's authority. As the jukebox at Black & Gold rotates from Johnny Cash to Kiss, Allen's hands move across the bar, playing an imaginary instrument in front of him. He understands that Various Blonde might frustrate listeners who like to know how to categorize what they hear, and he's fine with that.

"Doing what you want to do and having that come first is important to me," Allen says. "Sometimes people want to tailor-make their songs, try to write what they think someone is going to like or make music they think they're supposed to be making. But I'm OK with being like, 'Hey, I like punk music. I'm going to write a punk song today.' That's cool. That's fine. Music's fun. And if it's not fun, then fuck it." - Natalie Gallagher


Artists on Trial: Various Blonde

For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring artists playing the MidCoast Takeover fundraiser shows, sponsored by Midwest Music Foundation.

Various Blonde is the brainchild of Joshua Allen, formed in 2008 and presenting a dark, experimental, progressive style unique to Kansas City music. The band has opened for national acts like Russian Circles, Thursday, Murder By Death, Fang Island, and The Electric Six. We talk with them and find out more about what they’re up to as well as their plans for SXSW.

The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Various Blonde: A bunch of experiments with trial and error sprinkled on top.

The Deli: Tell us about what Various Blonde has going on.

VB:We have been chosen as a finalist for this: http://jansport.sonichub.com/artist/various-blonde

It would be awesome to win because if we win, it's also a victory for KC. It's good to bring attention to KC. We also have two EPs up on Bandcamp for whatever people will give us. nd if we are talking promotion, there is always Facebook. Please "LIKE" us on there, but more importantly, come to a show.

The Deli: What else can we expect from you guys this year?

VB: Perform and record as much as possible. Use my axe to chop down a money tree. (sarcasm font)

The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?

VB: Promoting and going to shows besides your own.

The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?

VB: This is a tough question and I know I’m gonna forget someone, but I really enjoy the Jorge Arana Trio, Sons of Great Dane… The Conquerors are super sick, THE DEVIL, Snuff Jazz, Making Movies fuggin’ slays Latin dragons, obviously Hearts of Darkness! Er’body luv HOD! One of KC's best kept secrets, Clock People (just wait, their first show is March 1 at Riot Room and you should go), Cherokee.Rock.Rifle because they wrote “Black Cauldron,” RADKEY because the guy from Entourage loves them, Janet The Planet (So dope!), MINDEN (even though they moved to Portland will always be KC to me), MONOLYTH!, and The Beautiful Bodies; they've really locked in their sound and are headed for big shit!

The Deli: Congrats on being selected to play MidCoast Takeover at SXSW. Who are you guys looking forward to playing with or seeing there?

VB: Thanks. I'm looking forward to all the KC energy that will be there, but as far as nationals are concerned, I honestly have no idea who is playing. I'll let you know when I know. Andrew W.K.?

The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

VB: Zechs Marquise, No Spill Blood, Bosnian Rainbows, Chelsea Wolfe, Zach Hill, Dot Hacker, Big Sur, Flying Lotus, Swahili Blonde, Death Grips, Tame Impala, Dirty Projectors, The Stepkids, Bailiff, The Budos Band, and Antibalas are all awesome. I was tempted to write dead artists cause none of them are local to anyone, but I don't wanna be a smartass.

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

VB: A festival with my band, Radiohead (Ok Computer, KID A, Amnesiac set), Smashing Pumpkins (original lineup Mellon Collie disc 1 and 2 set) The Mars Volta (De-Loused in the Comatorium set), Tool (Ænima cover-to-cover set), The Flaming Lips, Jack White, Blonde Redhead, Queens of the Stone Age with Grohl on drums, NIN (Fragile left and right Set), and if were including dead people that should still be alive... Biggie, Tupac, and Wu-Tang with Ol’ Dirty. After-party with Flying Lotus at Shaun White’s crib.

The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?

VB: On stage because you're creating a moment instead of trying to capture it. I hate to quote Coca Cola, but you can't beat the real thing!

The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?

VB: James Brown (hardest working man in show business, Godfather of Soul), Miles Davis (changed the face of jazz four times over four decades), brown Michael Jackson with fro in tow (King of Pop, indigo child), Hendrix (just ask the Axis).

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

VB: http://www.facebook.com/VariousBlonde
http://variousblonde.bandcamp.com/
http://www.reverbnation.com/variousblonde

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

VB: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

Various Blonde is:
Joshua Allen – guitar, vocals
Jason Nash – bass
Josh Enyart – drums

You can see Various Blonde this Saturday, February 2, where they will be playing the second MidCoast Takeover fundraiser at Riot Room. The group will be playing at 9:45, followed by Drop A Grand, Maps for Travelers, and Six Percent. Tickets available here. Various Blonde was also one of over 40 KC artists selected to play the 2013 MidCoast Takeover showcase at SXSW from March 13-16 at Shangri-La in Austin, Texas. - Michelle Bacon


Asked why his band is called Various Blonde, Joshua Allen has a vague recollection.

“I remember it this way,” he said. “We use to be called ’68 Comeback, but we had to change it because the name was already taken. We brainstormed and threw out a bunch of ideas. I said Blond Blonde and also threw out the idea of just calling the band Various. Nick Organ, our original drummer, liked the idea of putting them together. Hence, Various Blonde.”

The Blonde part may be random, but Various suits the band’s music, which extracts traits and parts from a variety of genres and forges them into a sound that can be as funky as it is heavy, soulful or psychedelic.

Founded in 2008, Various Blonde endured some personnel changes before settling into the current lineup: Allen, vocals and guitar; Eddie Moore, keyboards; Evanjohn McIntosh, bass; and Mark Lomas, drums. Allen recently answered questions about the band, including its work with Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, producer and keyboardist for the Mars Volta and Jack White. Owens died recently of a heart attack.

How do you describe your band’s sound? What do you tell people you sound like?

I always tell people, we cover a lot of ground when we play and that they should check out our music on Bandcamp. The current lineup is way more open to switching it up. We are able to play every genre I love and draw my influences from. Some songs are rock, some songs are more funk, some songs are pop, some songs are jazzy and some songs are psych. We’re really just focused on playing what we feel, even if we have to hop a genre to do it.

How does the songwriting process go?

I’m really into writing the bass lines for the song first. You can just control so much of the song with the bass line. The other stuff is great, but I’m really into getting the groove and rhythm established and then painting over that with other instruments.

I also love working with a producer. I know it might sound cliche, but working with someone who likes your sound and is down to help you cultivate it can make a huge difference in the finished product. I’ve had the pleasure of working with local engineer and producer and longtime friend Adam Mcgill (ex-Republic Tigers) and also the late Isaiah “Ikey” Owens. I felt like I’d plateaued as a musician before I started working with those two gentlemen. It’s really helped breathe new life into the band.

Who are some of your music influences?

I’ve had many of the same stock influences most people have had for a long time: Hendrix, the Beatles.… But honestly the Long Beach and Denver music scenes, Adam Mcgill and Ikey have been the biggest direct influences on the music I’m writing today.

It really has a lot less to do with all the greats and more to do with what I gain from being around such awesome people while writing songs for my band. I’ve been influenced by a good cup of coffee and good weather and written a riff. And John Lennon and the Mars Volta had nothing to do with it.

If you could open tour for any band, who would that be?

I think it’d be cool to tour with Queens of the Stone Age or Jack White. They’re two of the biggest and best in the biz. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both bands and they seem to have a really good dynamic. Like, family! I know not every tour is like that so it would be an amazing experience to be a part of such community.

FRIDAY
Various Blonde and the Philistines will perform Friday at Mills Record Co., 314 Westport Road. Showtime is 6 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is free. The show is part of the Apocalypse Meow benefit.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/ent-columns-blogs/back-to-rockville/article3559086.html#storylink=cpy - Timothy Finn


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Various Blonde has been recording and releasing music since 2008 and has opened for many noteworthy acts like RussianCircles, Free Moral Agents, ZechsMarquise, Dead Meadow, Imaad Wasif, Thursday, Fang Island, Murder By Death, Matt Pryor, Electric Sixx, Crystal Antlers, Broncho,De lux and Nick Waterhouse. They deliver a show all their own, cut with hints of pop, rock, soul, funk and psych.

Band Members