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An Interview With Blunt Objects

The latest release from Blunt Objects brings out a gothic undertone electro rock soiree that delivers a certain element of darkness along with this theatrical tonality that draws you in and keeps you right where it wants to.

The No One's Coming album gives off the vibe of a concept record as the songs have a strange way of interconnecting with each other and each one tells a story almost like chapters out of a book.

This is one of my favorite aspects about this release as a whole it's got that heavy level of escapism attached to it so that you can jump out of your own skin and into the stories that are told throughout the course of this record forgetting about your surroundings for a little while.

It's been quite some time since I've heard a record that lets you escape like this and how the storytelling and music are both so lush and detailed at the same time.

This was beautifully done and a lot about it it's actually quite graceful but all in all this is a rock record and it comes through as a really massive almost opus of a release.

There's just as much synth work as there is guitar work across the span of the album and those two textures come together completely naturally here so it's a really amazing mix of the guitars and digital instrumentation together.

You can tell there was a lot of detail that went into the recording of this release but it never loses that gusto or that sort of soul that it embodies.

This is really important because you're supposed to get something out of this record and I feel like what that is, has to do with that escapism I was speaking of earlier.

Listening to this album is like watching a good film and when it's over you have to shake yourself off a little bit to acclimate back to your own reality again.

This is quite a rarity in records these days so it was really refreshing to get it again.

There's quite an array of genres that are undertoned throughout the release and a lot of songs kind of have their own vibe.

Although there are quite a few songs that stand out on their own two feet as singles, this is meant to be soaked in as a full album at once so if you have the time to do so, I surely suggest you do.

They are definitely tracks that are quite danceable and fun and others that are more vast and bring out a completely different atmosphere that feels thunderous and cinematic.

It's really great to get these different vibes and different worlds while listening to this one big record.

There are definitely layers to be peeled back here but it's absolutely fun to do so and the way that it's ordered was definitely thought out as well.

Not just storyline-wise, but the way you get certain breaks in the music throughout the record.

Like I said, there's a lot of attention to the details and intricacies from beginning to end with this record and this is quite a thick album.

The songs are lush with sonic presence and everything comes together incredibly well.

With the release of such a well-woven album, we wanted to have a sit-down with Bill Owens of Blunt Objects to find out where this actually came from and what might be coming up next for the project.

Here's what happened.

Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with the No One's Coming album! This record had theatrical undertones, haunts and edginess with so much more! How did this release come about?

I think it's more or less in line with the overall body of work I've created in the past couple years --- general themes on the current (ugly) state of affairs, loneliness, mortality, aging, and there's always a love song or two (and a song or two about dogs). Basically, reflections of what I'm seeing and feeling these days --- reporting on what I'm observing.

Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as an artist?

Like many, COVID --- and the isolation it fostered --- was what kicked things off most recently. But it first started almost 50 years ago, where I had bands in Minneapolis and San Francisco. Those lasted from the mid 70's til the mid-80's, whereupon I disappeared down the rabbit hole of a corporate life that paid the bills in a way I could never realistically hope for making music.

I retired a few years ago and had a really tough go of it at first --- had no idea what to do with my time... My mom died in February 2020, just a couple of weeks before Covid was beginning to creep into our collective consciousness. I'd been contemplating getting back into playing/writing music, and had started to gather some modern gear --- but Covid was the kick in the pants that got it going. I divorced in 2021, so along with Covid, the horror that was American politics in that period, and my mother's death making me feel ever so mortal --- I had a wide range of stuff to report on...

I began in the Covid year by taking inventory of the songs and recordings from that earlier period, saving what was worth saving in terms of recorded material, recording fresh takes where there was not a good recording --- and partly as a result of that process, began writing new material.

I now write/play about 5 or 6 hours a day (it's my “replacement” job now --- how I fill my days with both entertainment and a sense of purpose). Probably 90% of it gets tossed or set aside for further pondering --- the 10% that survives is what fills my albums.

Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?

A striking lyric line is typically the catalyst on the words side of it --- once I get an idea rolling around, it takes form pretty quickly. I have scraps of paper all over my place --- not big pieces, but enough to write a line or two on. I also have a “lyrics bin” where these scraps accumulate, and I go to that for inspiration when I need it. Silly ideas seem to have a particular fascination for me --- and it's fun to have an alternative way to offer those other than just plain old text...

On the music side, a lot of it depends on where I begin finding the song. I write very differently with a guitar than with a keyboard; the guitar songs tend to come out almost fully formed, where the keys-based stuff tends more to evolve and unfold over several days (and can take a sharp detour if an interesting sound enters the mix). I'm fascinated by the music of sounds – especially with the keyboard and the almost limitless possibilities of interesting ways to combine sounds --- I like to tinker until I find the right balance of mood, textures, and emotion.

Buzz Slayers: This release has some great approaches to it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?

I grew up in the 60's, so the British Invasion stuff was front & center for me --- Beatles, Stones, Kinks, the Move, The Who, Pretty Things, Soft Machine. On this side of the pond, I was most drawn to the Velvet Underground, the Beach Boys, Love, and the Doors (and I admit a guilty pleasure for the bubble-gum music I heard in high school).

70's & 80's were David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott, Cure , Smiths, Psychedelic Furs; 90's and beyond include Daniel Johnston, Magnetic Fields, Arcade Fire, and almost any of the Elephant 6 artists.

Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

I walk a lot --- I find the repetitive forward motion is a terrific fuel for solving problems. I'm a voracious reader and spend a lot of time consuming words. I go out to see live music several nights a week, and perhaps take in a movie --- but mostly I think about the music I'm not making at the moment --- there's always a tune on my lips or rattling around in my head.

Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?

Tucson has an interesting and vibrant music scene, so I listen to a lot of local artists I've gotten to know over the past couple years --- Freezing Hands, Ex-Bats, Golden Boots, Rev Wyn, Doxy --- and most recently an artist called TenSpd, who performs solo, backed by a Gameboy – pure joyous pop. I have a weekly radio show at a small station here, and get introduced to all kinds of stuff I might otherwise never know exists. Have also met some folks through SoundCloud that I find very interesting --- Little Rita, Crash & Burn Stockholm --- I'm sure I'll regret someone not making this list :)

Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?

I performed in March for the first time since 1978, and have since played a dozen or so venues locally, and I frequent a weekly Open Mic. I bring my computer with my backing tracks and sing along, usually in stark contrast to the singer/songwriters with a guitar. There are a couple of us in town who play like this (i.e., backing tracks), but we are the exception here.

Buzz Slayers: Do you record these at a big studio or do you have a home studio set-up?

A little of both... I have a home studio using Cubase, a controller, and a guitar, and that's where most of it begins. I work with two studios locally --- Midtown Island Studio, and Waterworks West.

Matt Rendon and I have worked pretty productively together at his Midtown Island Studio --- a mostly analog studio with vintage gear. Matt plays drums, bass, and guitars, and he is my favorite person to sing harmonies with (plus he's a HUGE fan of 60's pop, and knows how to make those sounds). We recorded some 60 songs from January 2022 through June 2023 (mostly the older catalog from my earlier efforts --- those were all released as “DID NOT!” albums over the past 15-16 months. This latest Blunt Objects album, “No One Coming”, features Matt's playing/singing on about half the songs --- that'll likely change to “most of the songs” on future releases.

Jim Waters at Waterworks West handles the mixing/mastering/overall enhancement --- he is more responsible for the shaping of what I've come to recognize as my “sound” than anyone (including me) --- he has a great ear and intuition for what goes where, and makes it all come together in a way that I'd be lucky to achieve if I had his 30 years of experience. I've also started doing some collaborations with Jim --- he makes beats out of found sounds, and then we build on them together --- that project is called the Spice Lads with Blunt Objects, and there'll be a second album coming soon from that work

Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

As near as I can predict, more along the same lines --- I like melody, harmony, noise, and dissonance, and I tend to drift toward classic song structures. But it should keep on coming as long as I'm working it... Perhaps more instrumentals, certainly will be trying some different style things. Generally, I hope that people can expect to be surprised, delighted, amused, and entertained by what they're hearing --- I'm always surprised myself when I get a couple of days of separation from the latest piece --- I get into such a “zone” that I rarely have any distinct memories of making the music, so to hear it “fresh” is a minor marvel. My biggest happy surprise is when I'm doing the open mic and see people nodding heads, tapping feet, and smiling --- I know it's reaching them on a basic level, and it is enormously satisfying to be able to communicate in that way.

Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

Thank you for listening! Thank You, thank you! I've found that making the music has been relatively easy compared to finding listeners --- so thank you for listening!

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