Blonde Redhead

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Blonde Redhead is an American band consisting of three expatriates who started out as a dissonant noise-rock band and slowly morphed into a band capable of producing albums of entrancing dream-pop rock with an emotional punch. They are widely admired in alternative and independent rock circles and continue to widen their palette of sounds with every release.

Identical twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace met two female Japanese art students who were also interested in starting a band. The four realized an instant connection with each other, and started hanging out together and rehearsing in earnest. The band settled on the name Blonde Redhead, after a song by the infamous New York no-wave group DNA. The band quickly forged a sound that was influenced by the no-wave bands of the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Blonde Redhead debuted in 1993 with the seven-inch single “Big Song” and that, as well as their growing live reputation, brought them to the attention of Sonic Youth drummer, Steve Shelley, who had recently started his own record label, Smells Like Records, and was looking for bands to produce and sign.

After releasing another single and an eight song album with Shelley titled simply Blonde Redhead they immediately garnered critical praise.

Soon after the release of the album, Takahashi left the band, and was briefly replaced by friend and bassist Toko Yasuda. Yasuda, feeling frustrated that she was not comfortable contributing songs to the band, soon left, and Blonde Redhead continued on as a bass-less trio. Another album followed in 1995, La Mia Vita Violenta, and it found the group further refining their sound.

Blonde Redhead’s next album, 1998’s In An Expression Of The Inexpressible, was producted by Goodmanson and Fugazi’s singer/guitarist, Guy Picciotto. The sound of the album continued the trend of polishing and refinement with the guitars interplaying more tightly against the strong but supple backbeat laid down by Simone Pace. Keyboards were also starting to subtly make their way into the band’s sound. The group had, at this point, become comfortable with not having a bass player, having either Makino or Amedeo Pace play one in the studio or live if the song required it, but often times foregoing bass in favor of the two-guitars and drums set-up. The band continued touring almost constantly, playing with the likes of Shellac, Unwound and Fugazi.

The group returned to the studio and released their next album, Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons in 2000. The band again tapped Picciotto to produce the album. At this point, Blonde Redhead had moved farther away from the furious guitar-rock and Sonic Youth comparisons of their earlier releases, and were now embracing a sound that took in aspects of 60’s-era French pop as well as elements mined from such diverse forms of music as jazz, ambient and shoe-gazer rock.

After Melody, Blonde Redhead went on a four year hiatus, mainly due to a serious accident that Makino suffered in 2002 when she was thrown from a horse and nearly crippled. During her long recovery, the band switched record labels to the prestigious British record label 4AD, home to such acts as the Cocteau Twins and the Pixies. The band took the time to further refine and change their sound, so that when their next album, Misery Is A Butterfly, appeared in 2004, it took many people, not least of which their fans, by surprise. Strings and keyboards were featured prominently on the album — it sounded like Blonde Redhead had become a sort of chamber music rock band. The feel was miles away from the sound the band had started with, yet it was completely their own. The music was graceful where once it was urgent, probably due to Makino’s life being changed so drastically and the deepened bond that all three band members held with one another. Critics and fans soon came around and the album sold better than any of their previous records. Live, the band continued on as a three-piece, with members switching from their guitars and drums to keyboards for some of the newer material.

Blonde Redhead continued to tour and released their next album, 23, in 2007. For the first time, the group opted to produce the album themselves, with assistance on two songs from producer Mitchell Froom. They wanted more spontaneity and clarity on 23 than they’d had on the previous album, and 23 is an excellent distillation of the different stages the band had experienced throughout their career.

After a trio of releases as potent as Misery Is A Butterfly, 23 and Penny Sparkle, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the last Blonde Redhead album, Barragán, sounds so confident. There is continuity in the presence of producer/mixer/engineer Drew Brown, who was a key member of the team during the making of Penny Sparkle, and who made a number of telling suggestions along the way this time around. It was Drew who persuaded the band to head out to Key Club Recording in BentonHarbor, Michigan, where they encountered an amazing trove of vintage synthesisers – it was, in Kazu’s words, “analogue heaven.”

After all these years and many great albums to draw from Blonde Redhead is ready to present you their new EP and a Best Of repertoire during this upcoming tour.