The Lowertown Line

S3 E7 | FULL EPISODE

The Blind Shake

Known for killer live shows with synchronized dance moves, The Blind Shake has been playing around the Twin Cities for over a decade. Their musical sound is steeped in 60s psychedelia with a contemporary garage rock drive.

AIRED: December 22, 2017 | 0:26:46
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TRANSCRIPT

[sustained guitar note]

[electric guitar chord; distortion effects on the guitar]

(Jim) The band was kind of hazy early on.

♪ ♪

We never felt we were gonna be a band.

it wasn't just like hey you wanna form a band?

How about you're on drums?

We didn't start playing music to be a band, it sounds kinda dumb.

But did you ever think we were gonna play a show?

We had to force you into playing a show.

(Mike) I've played the guitar since I was 9.

Never played a show, never played in front of people

until I was 23, 24,

and yeah, my lips were blue.

(Jim) He just stared straight ahead and played perfect.

And then, when we're all done, Dave and I were so, we're like,

that was great, that was really fun, do it again, Mike?

He's like, we're gonna do that again?

I was like, yeah. Wasn't that fun?

I don't want, I don't wanna do it again.

Yeah, at the time it was just a scary thing to do,

so, so personal. You know?

[playing a heavy metal stomp beat]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not an animal ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not a mirror man ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not a cannibal ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Draw in my own plan ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not a carnivore ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not a grizzly man ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not a festival ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Same way it's always been ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not an animal ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not a mirror man ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I'm not a cannibal ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Draw in my own plan ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

(Jim) I'm makin' a Blind Shake tour poster,

definitely wanna do something by hand, kind of collagey,

I think that's still kind of our aesthetic.

And the first thing you see is, is the art, you know?

Before you even hear it, you're lookin' at it,

so you wanna tell a story right away.

I like when you can see the cut marks and shadows.

It just seems a little bit more childlike and fun.

I think sometimes it takes away

from some of the seriousness of our band, just a little bit,

adds just another dimension to the-- here we have

shaved heads and black coats, but our flyer is pink. You know?

I definitely like that, kind of crossing those aesthetics.

We started designing little things on our coats

because with just black, it just kinda blended in

a little bit too much, so we would just start making

little pieces or hey little designs, or just to break up.

There's really no true meaning behind it,

and that's what's kinda fun,

'cause it seems like there is, but there's not.

(man) Is there any aspect of it that's like, you know, shtick?

I never want to call it shtick, I don't know, that seems kinda,

the look is very intentional, I was always thinking about like

the way we should look and what your amp looks like

and what's on the drums, like ever since day one.

(Mike) The shaved heads starts with genetics, I was going bald.

So you just shave your head.

But then it does have a team camaraderie look to it.

Dave... (Dave) I still have a lotta hair.

He could grow blond hair, flow in the wind, and do all these,

join whatever kind of garage band is hip,

but he shaves his head to be a team player.

(Dave) And it's a functional haircut, it actually is.

(Mike) Yeah, because you're saying something, no matter what.

You might think well I'm just, you know, gonna wear whatever,

but you had to choose that; at some point you bought that.

There's some bands that have maybe an attitude I don't care,

well it's funny how you all don't care

and you're all wearing flannel-- that's amazing.

Maybe that works, but, but what I'm saying is, it's intentional.

It doesn't have to be, but for us,

let's think of every single aspect of what we do.

[sustained guitar note; heavy distortion effects]

♪ ♪

[playing in rapid grunge/punk rhythm]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I tried to fade back a church upon the floor ♪

♪ I tried to fade back ♪

♪ Don't touch a flea bag that burns outside your door ♪

♪ Don't touch a flea bag ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Handcuffs are peeling I'm walking through your door ♪

♪ Handcuffs are peeling ♪

♪ I'm just a life raft that has too many holes ♪

♪ I'm just a life raft ♪

♪ Old lake old lake ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Go set the table and eat up all the coal ♪

♪ Go set the table ♪

♪ Red water comforts the yellow-bellied crows ♪

♪ Red water comforts ♪

♪ Old lake old lake ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Don't mess around now ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Old lake old lake ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Old lake old lake ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Old lake old lake ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Old lake old lake ♪

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

♪ ♪

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

(Mike) Thank you so much!

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

[click! drums play]

♪ ♪

(Mike) Oh there it is, we got it.

I record us and mix us,

and play the baritone, usually at the same time.

You know, you play a little bit and check the levels,

go in the hallway, see if everything sounds good.

Okay.

One more the whole thing, the whole song.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

When you record it straight on the tape,

I feel that you get more natural compression.

There's something about it sounds better on the ears.

(Jim) Also seems to be a lot more happy accidents that kinda

happen on the tape when something's really maybe way too loud,

but it just sounds awesome, where it kinda like busted out,

blows it out a little bit, and that's just kinda the sound.

Bomp! Okay, you keep that demo and then.

It seems a little bit more forgiving to record on tape.

When you play back, it sounds

a little bit more removed from what you just did;

sometimes the digital sounds really perfect

and you really get in your head about analyzing stuff,

but this seems a little bit more like looking at

a Polaroid picture of yourself, rather than a perfect digital.

Who wants to look at themselves like that, you know?

[heavy electronic effects]

♪ ♪

We love you. Here we go!

♪ ♪

[guitar with distortion establishing the beat]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Fly right ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Pale Days ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Sleep in a line ♪

♪ Alone on the range ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Sometimes ♪

♪ ♪

♪ We are alive ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Help me ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Dig through the tide ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Since I've dug my hole ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ ♪

[guitar solo; very heavy distortion]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ Why'm I all alone ♪

♪ Since I've dug my hole ♪

♪ ♪

(man) So when someone meets you, and they never heard your music,

oh you're in a band, what kind of music do you play?

What do you say?

Psychedelic noise.

Rock and roll.

Noise, psych, surf.

Well, it's a blues scale.

Spanish-based. Punk. Garage.

But it is blues-based, I feel still at the end of the day,

like when we don't know what to do,

we just, we'll go just back to a stomp beat of like a,

just what would your foot do if you were just playin' this?

Now we can build up from there.

[guitar plays with a tremolo effect]

(Mike) No band likes to describe their sound.

And bands that are like, oh we fit in this genre immediately,

their band is probably terrible

because they're trying to fit in, they're

not trying to revolutionize anything or just be original,

and they're not pulling from other resources.

(Dave) I think we've kinda always been a band

of surf music of some kind, you know,

it's fun to play, I think it just comes naturally for us.

(Jim) We're not tryin' to be a retro surf band.

We don't have moves like surf band moves or anything.

But Minnesota has always had the best surf bands-- the Trashmen.

(The Trashmen) ♪ Well everybody's heard about the bird ♪

♪ Bird bird bird b-bird's the word ♪

♪ Well-a bird bird bird bird is the word ♪

(Mike) Minnesota might have the best surfers, it's just that we don't have an ocean.

There it is. So it's not fair.

(The Trashmen) ♪ Well-a bird bird bird the bird is the word ♪

♪ Well-a bird bird b-bird's the word ♪

(Mike) It's a minor chord progression, but still in a positive song.

You know, I, I think our songs do have this kind of catchy,

positive part in it and surf has that same thing.

(Jim) And we definitely come at surf from our angle, not like okay,

we need to change the amp setup and be this whole other band.

It just happens naturally.

(Dave) Yeah, it's definitely amateur surfing,

you're about to, at any moment

wipe out and get eaten by a shark.

Yeah.

[guitar plays; people applaud]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

[playing fast surf-punk beat]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Fill my pockets with lead ♪

♪ Gonna keep my family fed ♪

♪ Keep that frame on the wall ♪

♪ We're not moving after all ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Zamboni days collide ♪

♪ Shake that bottle outside ♪

♪ A drowning man will confess ♪

♪ Unless he really was the best ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Young carnival waste ♪

♪ Young carnival waste ♪

♪ Young carnival waste ♪

♪ Young carnival waste ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

[applause]

(Jim) Thank you so much!

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

(man) Well, you guys are in your 30s now, but is there some of like

the anger that maybe you feel when you're a boy of 15,

that is still coming through?

(Dave) I don't know, I wouldn't really consider us ever being like angry.

Yeah, you wouldn't call a shark angry, you know what I mean?

He's out there chompin' people up; we're not doin' that.

(man) So it just looks angry.

It does because, because

you usually don't smile when you're intense, 'cause that's

even more insane and we're not that insane. You know?

(Jim) But that gets back to kinda that surrealistic part where,

if you look at us at first glance, you might think

shaved heads and angry it's like

Please, like that's so, so surface and so dumb.

Just come in just a little closer

and you can see a lotta humor,

kind of weird movements and ideas

and well sometimes we like, write lyrics!

Mike and I'll sit down and start writing 'em and it's like a,

we kinda make each other laugh or it's so--

you're kinda creeping me out a little bit,

not in a, in a kind of a, not a vulgar way.

Bunch of maggots like, that's stupid. Right?

No, but what about this man that can only look forward

and he's just totally going through his life

and he can only look at you this way, you're just like ah,

it's just a little bit off, and it's just like that's kinda,

I think, lyrically and sometimes musically that we kinda fit.

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

[playing rock 'n' roll]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Can't hear my hands ♪

♪ Can't talk to dust ♪

♪ Can't see the telephone ♪

♪ My ears are leaking rust ♪

♪ I have saved 10,000 days ♪

♪ My fortune's buried ♪

♪ With the huns of yesterday ♪

♪ I'm not gonna wait when I'm home ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I run alone ♪

♪ Don't think you won't ♪

♪ I searched all night for her ♪

♪ And came up with a crowd ♪

♪ I'm not gonna wait when I'm home ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ The sun is black ♪

♪ The sun is cold ♪

♪ The shadow's incomplete ♪

♪ It's good to be unknown ♪

♪ I'm not gonna wait when I'm home wa wa ♪

♪ Wa wa wa ♪

♪ Wa wa wa ♪

♪ Wa wa wa ♪

♪ Calligraphy ♪

♪ Calligraphy ♪

♪ Calligraphy ♪

♪ Calligraphy ♪

♪ I'm not gonna wait when I'm home ♪

♪ ♪

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

(Mike) Thank you so much!

(Mike) Well, we couldn't get a show in Minneapolis in our early days,

so we started booking tours.

I think that got us tight as a band. (Dave) Definitely.

(Mike) And fearless in terms of whether no one's there.

(Dave) Every, every night was a fight

to just even get to the place. You know?

And you start to play a show or you would drive all day to,

to some, you know, VFW and play to like 4 people-- it's hard.

(Jim) My only focus at the show is how it sounds,

not whether there's people there or anything, but sometimes

it's packed, sometimes it's not, we don't know.

(Dave) Yeah, I pretty much always assume

no one's gonna be at the show. I just, you know?

(Jim) Oh, people showed up! (Dave) Oh, and then yeah,

and then people do show up and just like wow, that's weird.

27 of our aunts and uncles showing up for your shows.

Yes, they're super supportive, our family is cool like that.

I think some people are like,

yeah, it's kinda weird-- my family's there,

like, it's weird that people love you?

Maybe it is weird that people love you,

if that's your thing, it's like, you know, you can't accept love,

well then maybe, maybe it isn't for you.

But for us, we enjoy the love of our family,

they come see us-- thank you, you know, somebody's there.

'Cause there's a lotta floor tiles in Fargo

that were entertained by us, but there's

little or no connection. You know what I mean?

(Jim) There was that one time in Florida,

we just had the worst show

and we pulled into our hotel where we were gonna stay.

And no one looked at each other or talked, which seemed like.

(Dave) Yeah, we're still in the car, in the parking lot

of this, the hotel we're staying at, and we just sat there

or like 30 minutes. (Jim) Just stared, just evaluating.

(Dave) What are we doing?

We're thousands of miles from home and...

(Jim) Yeah, and that was one of those moments where like, gentlemen,

if you want off the train, here it is.

And one of us broke the silence, it was like, shall we go in?

Yup, and we all just grabbed our bags and stayed on the train.

And the next show was great, and the next show

was fantastic. (Mike) It was great.

Check, one, check, check, check, hey, hey, hey.

(Dave) Slowly we saw like, success.

Not success necessarily, that's not the correct word,

but just every show, every time we played live

there was a gain of some sort,

and I think that kinda kept us going too, you know?

(Jim) It keeps you a junkie. (Dave) Yeah.

(Jim) It is the casino kinda thing.

So many failures and then there's that one success,

and you're like, alright!

(Dave) The fact that we just kept doin' it just proves that

it's what we wanted to do or we were meant to do or...

(Jim) That's it's natural.

(Mike) The main thing is we just show up consistently.

[playing in a garage-stomp punk rhythm]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Don't try to call the police ♪

♪ Gone the new ghost town ♪

♪ Don't try to plug up the leak ♪

♪ Tar paper grows in the wild ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Run when there's nowhere to go ♪

♪ Stay there's nobody home ♪

♪ Carousel spinning at you ♪

♪ Tar paper grows in the wild ♪

♪ I'm all out of blood ♪

♪ Spite it keeps me going ♪

♪ I'm all out of lungs ♪

♪ I'll blow bubbles until I catch up ♪

[guitar solo]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Rumble in your new found sleep ♪

♪ You you never own land ♪

♪ Sign your name in concrete ♪

♪ Tar paper grows in the wild ♪

♪ I'm all out of blood ♪

♪ Spite it keeps me going ♪

♪ I'm all out of lungs ♪

♪ I'll blow bubbles till I catch up ♪

[guitar solo; heavy distortion effects]

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Tar paper grows in the wild ♪

♪ Tar paper grows in the wild ♪

♪ Tar paper grows in the wild ♪

♪ Tar paper grows in the wild ♪

Thanks so much, have a good night!

[cheers, whistles, & applause]

CC--Armour Captioning & TPT

(woman) Indeed Brewing Company--

we make the beer, you make the most of it.

This program is made possible by

The State's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

and the citizens of Minnesota.

[orchestral fanfare]


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