POSTED ON AUGUST 31, 2011:
Standing on the Shoreline
Blindside returns from hiatus with a fresh perspective and new message
Following an extended tour behind Blindside's last full-length disc, The Great Depression, the band receded from public view, at least in the United States. Aside from self-releasing the Black Rose EP and making a short, two week stateside run in support of the disc in 2007, the band hasn't hardly been seen or heard from in North America. After nearly 10 years of the tour/record/tour schedule, the band returned to Sweden and finally made an impact on Europe, playing festivals in 2006 and 2007 and touring as opener for AFI and Linkin Park.
Although the lack of U.S. exposure led many to speculate that the band had broken up, that wasn't the case. It just needed some time to refocus. After nearly five years out of the public eye, the band returned with the sprawling With Shivering Hearts We Wait in June, delivering a disc that builds on the band's legacy as one of Christian rock's most intelligent and thoughtful bands, yet departs from what old fans might expect sonically.
As the group prepared to return for its first U.S. tour in over four years, I got the chance to catch up with singer Christian Lindskog to discuss the band's absence, the new CD and what has changed since we last heard from them.
"It's been a while since we recorded last and in a way, I've chosen to lead a different life," Lindskog said. "We were touring a lot -- all the time -- and I loved it, but that came to a halt. I had a daughter and didn't want to be gone all the time. I felt the need to take a step back.
"You can get used to this idea of yourself in a band but then you have to ask 'Who am I? What's my identity?' when you're outside of that. So it was kind of a journey to find my identity in a way and I think it was for all of us.
"Now it feels fresh again," he said. "We're not 'addicted to the band' as it were. We're just doing it because we love music."
Even so, the songs for the new disc were a long time coming.
"It was a long process for me this time, but every record has been different for this band. If a record goes really fast or really, really slow, the outcome isn't necessarily any better or worse, I don't think. I love About a Burning Fire and it was done so quickly, but it doesn't sound like it," he said.
Sonically, the new disc is a sprawling affair, opening with the type of post-hardcore metal that the band is more commonly recognized for before delving into elements of garage punk and post-new wave electronic. Before it's over, however, everything congeals into what is perhaps the band's most accessible and straightforward rock album to date. Although it could backfire, the juxtaposition works well and adds to the continuity of the disc as a whole.
"Musically, we said we didn't want to be afraid of adding strings or making a really big record," Lindskog said. "The Great Depression was different, almost indie sounding as we explored different sounds. This time we wanted to make a big rock record."
"The thing is with this band, we never want to put restrictions on what we can do or what we sound like. Early on we had that discussion: What kind of band are we? Are we a heavy band? We decided we are whatever we are. We chose really early on not to limit ourselves to what we think our fans will like. Whether it's a simple pop song or something more introverted or acoustic or electronic, what needs to come out is what needs to come out."
That led me to ask how the band writes and Lindskog admitted that it's different with each song. "Usually someone has a riff and we all collaborate on it. A lot of times, I'll just sing words and it doesn't make any sense at all and a word pops out, or I'll be singing and get emotional and very intense about certain words.
"We are kind of a pretentious band and perhaps we take ourselves a little too seriously at times. To me though, it has to be more than just a song you want sing; there has to be something more to it.
"Most of the time it's not 'What is God trying to say to all people?' More often than not, it's 'What is God trying to say to me?' and if I'm trying to do it for others, I'm getting it all wrong."
When asked about the overlying theme of the new CD, Lindskog said that "I don't feel like I'm done analyzing that. Tomas (Naslund, bassist) said once before and I think we all kind of laughed as agreed that it feels a lot of times like we're throwing bricks in a pile. Then we have to sit back and look and ask ourselves 'What did we build?'"
"From my perspective, it (the record) is very relationship based," he said. "The first song, "There's Something in the Water" is almost a fight for life...
"With the last song "There's Something in the Wind", I was in the Dominican Republic just watching the ocean and I saw this storm forming off in the distance," Lindskog said. "For some reason I had an acoustic guitar with me, which I never do, and I started humming this melody and it almost overpowered me. I was crying and singing this melody over and over again. I just wanted to stay in the moment, even as I saw the storm coming. It's a melody that I've sung to my daughter when she's upset and it calms her down.
"Lyrically it's about someone on the shoreline and here comes the storm. In a way it's about giving in and giving up yourself: dying to self. Until you realize that feeling and need to let go, however, you can't. The person is ready to die to this, come hell or high water, he's going to stand on the shoreline, whatever comes.
"In a way, I think that's what this record is about, but it feels like I need to live that message first," he said. "We're definitely not perfect and we don't try to paint that picture. We definitely have our struggles and while we admit that we're believers in Christ, it often feels like we have to hold up these higher standards. With us that's not the case -- we all struggle with things. That theme of dying to self: we all deal with things in this band. That's the same with all people: we all have secrets that will come out eventually. I think that's maybe the overall meaning and theme behind the album, but I'm not completely sure. Perhaps I'll be able to tell you better a year from now."
Blindside begins its latest journey, opening the U.S. tour for With Shivering Hearts We Wait this Thursday night, Sept. 1, at Enerje Event Centre (9341 N 129th E. Ave., Owasso). It's an all-ages show and tickets are only $15 at the door with local bands Write This Down and Intohimo opening.
Following a three week tour of the States, the band will return to Europe with tentative plans to return to the U.S. with a single release and additional touring in early 2012. For now, however, the band is making a short run focusing on reconnecting with old fans and welcoming any new ones to the fold. After such a long hiatus, however, Thursday night's concert promises to be a powerful return for a band that has always held an intensely loyal fan base in the U.S.
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