An Interview with Blushing at Cheer Up Charlies - January 15, 2017

An Interview with Blushing at Cheer Up Charlies – January 15, 2017

by Jason

Blushing are an Austin shoegaze band who played their first gig at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin, TX on January 15th. I was lucky enough to catch their debut and they did not disappoint. They also released their debut EP, Tether, at the end of 2016. They were gracious enough to answer my questions about their debut EP, their approach to writing and recording, and what may be next for the band.

Hello all in Blushing! Can you all introduce yourselves to our readers and tell us what you do in the band?

My name’s Noe, and I play guitar.
My name’s Christina and I play bass and I’m the lead singer.
My name’s Michelle and I play guitar and sing.
My name’s Jacob and I play drums.

How did you all get started making music?

Noe: I started when I was 12/13 years old playing in bands in El Paso trying to emulate At the Drive-In. I started playing when I was really young and playing in different bands with my friends.

Christina: Well, both my parents are music teachers. So it’s in my blood and I’ve been singing since I was five years old. Not by choice. They made me join choirs all throughout my life and I ended up here finally doing what I want to do.

Michelle: I got a guitar from my husband Jacob a few years ago and messed around with it. Then I eventually started writing songs. Then I got an electric guitar and really explored all I could do with an electric guitar and writing songs. I can’t really sing well so I found someone that could, my friend Christina. Now we are making music together.

Jacob: I have been playing in bands off and on for like fifteen years from El Paso. So I met Noe over there. We played a lot of shows together. So we have a lot of chemistry already. It’s another project for us carrying over from our other experiences.

So, how and when did Blushing form?

Michelle: So, those initial songs that I was writing, I wanted to take to another level. I wanted a really beautiful voice on them and more instruments. We got together in our living rooms and I brought some of those really rough songs and she sang them beautifully and then she just picked up the bass. So now we had guitar and bass and we knew our marital partners had a lot of music experience with drums and guitar. So it eventually all came together.

Christina: And it’s funny how the sound came together. When it was just the two of us [points at Michelle] it was really really beautiful and melodic. When these guys came, it got really hard.

Jacob: Noe was in a power-pop band and I was in a metal band.

Christina: So they bring the edge. The music evolved naturally and we weren’t trying to push it in a certain direction. We just kind of let it change in the direction it was flowing.

Michelle: And I think you can feel the melodic and then there is an edgier, crunchier feel involved.

Does your environment inform your writing and the musical choices you make in Blushing? How is the Austin shoegaze scene?

Jacob: She [Michelle] does all the writing and all the lyrics. That’s where it starts. The melodies, etc.

Michelle: I think it makes it easier just because it’s such a musically nurturing environment here. It just makes it easier because you are in a creative space. There’s a lot more support here and we’re challenged by all the talent we’re constantly around. But I think we are mostly influenced by the bands we grew up listening to.

So tonight is your first live show as a band, right?

Michelle/Christina: Yeah

From what I can see, your new EP Tether, and your first release is being well-received. What do you think of the reaction and are there more tracks waiting in the wings?

Noe: The reaction is great. It’s been awesome and we are all really surprised.

Jacob: I didn’t even know this community existed

Noe: I mean, we’re all fans of this genre along with a lot of other genres. It’s surprising. Of course, our goal is to put out more music. We have a lot more ideas. That’s what we want to do. Make good music.

Michelle: There are more tracks. That’s our next big thing. We want to work on two more songs and maybe record them.

Jacob: The only reason the EP was four tracks was because we just ran out of money.

Noe: But the EP came out exactly how we wanted it and the studio we went to was awesome. We had a great experience with Philip Odom at Bad Wolf Studios. He’s a badass.

Can you talk a bit about your writing process and how you approach your songs in that phase?

Michelle: A lot of times I will get a melody, then once I have the melody then I’ll put chords to it and see where the chords fit in the melody. Then lyrics come last. I think the hardest part is the lyrics. It always starts with a melody. I always pick up my phone as soon as I hear it in my head and I’ll hum it and it just builds from there. Then I bring it to the group as a basic piece. Then the group builds around that with their various instruments and it evolves from there.

What’s it been like preparing for your first live show?

Noe: It’s been good. We’re on a pretty strict schedule. We practice about two times a week at our rehearsal space. We practice about an hour and a half. We’ve been practicing for almost a year and a half. We are perfectionists. We want to be good at our craft. If we are going to play live and put an EP out, we want it to be good.

Jacob: Well, she [Michelle] was writing the music and they were playing in the living room and, the reason we came in was to help them complete the songs. It was never even a project where we were going to play live.

Noe: Originally, it was going to be an all girl band.

Christina: That’s what we tried to do. We found a drummer, that fell through. We tried a couple guitar players and they didn’t work out.

Noe: And I would continually hear these songs that Michelle and Christina were practicing and I would just write drum parts and guitar parts. I would hear harmonies.

Christina: Originally, when Michelle and I were the only two, we actually wanted Noe to be the drummer. Then we decided that we wanted him on guitar, so we brought Jake in to drum. So that’s how it evolved into the four of us. Originally, it was just going to be the three of us.

Michelle: Yeah, we really needed a lead element. We don’t have something like keyboards so we needed a lead part.

I like to ask bands about specific tracks to get some more information out of writing and recording issues. Can you speak about the writing and recording of “Tether” and “Mess”?

Christina: The first time I heard the skeleton of “Tether”, I loved it. I thought it was going to be a great song. I’m trying to remember exactly how it first started. That one we actually wrote very quickly.

Michelle: I brought the bare-bones of the song to the group and then we added a lot to it, especially during the recording process. We added these ethereal “ahs” in the background and it really evolved during the recording process. When we would play the song for friends, they would say “that’s the one” because we didn’t know for sure if that would be the single. It was the song everyone would pick out of all the songs we showed them.

Noe: I immediately knew hearing it that it has a great chorus, very poppy, really catchy. I immediately knew that this is a great song.

Christina: We thought, once we wrote that song, that was the direction we wanted to write our songs in. So we dropped some songs that we had before since we liked this new direction we were going in.

Michelle: On “Mess”, that’s one of my favorite parts to play because of the bridge. I love writing bridges. It’s my favorite part of writing. That one gets really pretty and melodic. That one is one of my favorites. It’s the hardest for me, the chords are really hard to play.

Christina: Me too. It’s a difficult bass-line with the little vocal bridge part. It’s pretty difficult.

Noe: I love that song. I think it’s great. I think Christina really shines in it.

Christina: That bridge part was improvised during recording. I kept putting it off and Michelle kept saying that it would sound really pretty if you would sing here on the bridge. I would be like, ok I’ll write a part. Then next practice, next practice. Then finally we were in the studio and I was like, shit, I have to do this right now. So I just made it up on the fly.

Noe: That was the cool thing about the studio. I would listen to the recording and be like, oh shit, I played that! I gotta play it live now.

What sort of equipment do you all use both in recording, and, if different, live?

Noe: I use a Twin Reverb and I have a Telecaster. I have different kinds of pedals. I love MXR, what they put out. I use a delay pedal. I have an old DD4 and I use a timed pedal so I can control the delay as the song progressives. I have an awesome chorus pedal. I keep it really simple. Michelle has badass gear.

Michelle: I have a Cathedral Reverb pedal that I love. I use a lot of chorus. I have a Boss CH-1 Super Chorus pedal. I have a Big Muff Pi for distortion and a Small Stone. I play a Jazzmaster.

Christina: I use a Fender P-Bass and a Hall of Fame reverb pedal and an Ampeg 8×10/SVT Classic.

Jacob: A DW 3-piece set with custom Tama snare.

If you could have any piece of equipment and money wasn’t an issue what would it be?

Noe: Any Rickenbacker made before the 70’s.

Jacob: A John Bonham Ludwig drumset. The clear one.

Michelle: An American-made Jazzmaster.

Christina: I would just like my own bass because I share with Noe. I would just like my own gear.

So, what’s next for Blushing?

Noe: I want to put another album out.

Michelle: A full-length, on vinyl. More songs.

Noe: We’re just going to write. Well, the next thing we really want to do is have an official release for the Tether EP.

Michelle: Yeah, we really haven’t officially had a release show.

Thanks for spending time with me and answering my questions.


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