About a year ago I wrote about goth and deathrock-type bands in the greater Dallas area (“Gothic Rock and Deathrock in DFW in 2016 – Grave City’s Quick and Dirty Guide,” from Sept., 2016 — that article is here). A few of the bands I wrote about have since broken up (e.g. Ritual Order, Slimy Member), and a few others are on temporary hiatus (Garden of Mary). But some new bands have also arrived. BLOOD BELLS is one of the new ones, and they’re a darned good new one.
I had the privilege of booking BLOOD BELLS to play their first show in Dallas at a collaborative Wardance/King Camel event with Jeffrey Brown at Armoury DE on Friday, September 15. It was a good show. Although Blood Bells are named after the Current 93 song “The Bloodbells Chime,” the Denton duo do not sound like Current 93 or any of the other neofolk and post-industrial bands in Current 93’s orbit.
Instead, Blood Bells play a type muscular trad gothic rock inspired by the classic acts of the genre: the Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry — that whole smoky, 80s Leeds UK sound that has also been explored by current revivalists in bands like Terminal Gods and Golden Apes. Singer Clint’s vocals have a more decidedly Andrew Eldritch sound than was put on display in some of his previous bands, which included Pink Smoke and the Damned cover band Stab Yr Front (damn, that was a fun cover band). Bassist Matt Stewart’s basslines have the classic appeal of Patricia Morrison‘s clean, driving bass on the Sisters of Mercy’s Floodland opus. As singer Clint says below, “I’d say we fall under the deathrock/post-punk umbrella if we had to slap a label on it. I think we’d like to let the listener decide, ultimately.” And with that being said, here is the band themselves, in their own words:
Interview below the cut!
Blood Bells were interviewed by Oliver Sheppard on September 17, 2017.
Oliver: Basic details about the band first: When did Blood Bells start, who is in the band, and what instruments do they play?
Clint: Blood Bells started in early 2016 as an all-electronic instrumental project with Matt and myself. Matt plays bass and I alternate between guitar and synth as well as all drum programming and vocal duties.
What bands have you all been in before this? What sort of sound did those bands have, and what sort of styles of music or musical interests did they represent?
Clint: We were always in punk bands before this. Usually influenced by early punk and glam to more garage rock n’ roll from the revival era.
Who came up with the name “Blood Bells” and what does it mean or represent?
Clint: Blood Bells is a reference from the group Current 93. “The Bloodbells Chime” is the name of a song from their album All the Pretty Little Horses. I have loved C93 since I first heard them back in 1999 and I hold that track in particular very close to my heart. It has a depth and feeling to it I cannot describe. Just a wonderful song.
What genre is Blood Bells? How would you describe the band’s sound to someone that had never heard you before? Also, what bands are the primary influences? After your first show, I thought I heard some Terminal Gods in there and some others remarked about Red Lorry Yellow Lorry or even Sisters of Mercy. Are these bands that you all like?
Clint: Most bands hate to self-describe. We are no exception. I’d say we fall under the deathrock/post-punk umbrella if we had to slap a label on it. I think we’d like to let the listener decide, ultimately. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s true! We are influenced by so many different styles of music, but we tend to be best at the more “meat and potatoes” approach that a lot of the early post-punk and coldwave bands had. It’s inevitable that my vocal style will be compared to Andrew Eldritch from Sisters of Mercy even though I don’t think I sound like him at all. Although we obviously adore the classics (Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Christian Death etc.), I don’t quite know who to accurately compare our sound to.
Is there a primary lyricist for the band and who is it? Are there any certain themes that the lyrics tend to dwell upon? What are some of your songs about? For example, the songs “Bones” and “A Time for Roses”?
Clint: I am the primary lyricist, but Matt has written some absolutely beautiful, dark and killer words that I will be adapting into songs eventually. He is so eloquent in his writing style that it’s a challenge for me to try and incorporate all of the nuances into music! Going back to the “listener decides/open for interpretation” thing – I don’t like to overthink lyrics. Maybe it’s because I overthink virtually everything else in my life so much! My brain goes to dark places often (oh, so goth!) so I think when I am pouring out the words, I’m just letting it take over. It’s therapeutic. You used two prime examples of some of my most stream-of-consciousness writing when you brought up “Bones” and “A Time for Roses”. I have no idea what they are about! *Unsolved Mysteries theme song plays*
How many songs do you all have currently written right now? Any plans to release a demo soon, and if so, when might that happen?
Clint: We probably have 12 songs written or half-written, but only eight are in use currently. We are recording at Cool Devices Studio in late September 2017. We hope to have material out for streaming by October and cassettes by early 2018.
A question for both members, and a question I try to ask all bands I interview: If you could take five and only five albums with you and were stranded on a remote desert island, and somehow magically could play those LPs there, and were stuck only with those 5 LPs for the rest of your life, what 5 LPs would those be and why?
Clint: Yowza! Eek! Toughest question EVER. Here’s goes nothing. *drum roll please* IN NO ORDER:
- Cocteau Twins “Blue Bell Knoll”
- Astrud Gilberto “The Astrud Gilberto Album”
- Current 93 “Island” (Oh, the irony!)
- The Danse Society “Seduction”
- Vince Guaraldi “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Murder Ballads”
- Tom Waits “Blood Money”
- Townes Van Zandt “Delta Momma Blues”
- Earth “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull”
- The Cure “Pornography”
We really wish we could have added more! Ahhh!
What are the future plans at this point for Blood Bells? Any upcoming shows? Recording plans, etc.?
Clint: Plans are to keep going until we’re dead. Or bored. But I don’t see us getting bored with this, as we are finally doing the type of project I’ve been wanting to do for a decade. No upcoming shows scheduled right now. In fact, this band experience will be different for us than anything we’ve done before. We are more focused on writing and recording with less emphasis on playing shows. People should not expect to see us play live too often. Our goal is to play out maybe 4-5 times per year, so around once every two to three months.
If there’s anything else you’d like to say, plug, announce, or give a shout-out to, here’s the space. Have at it:
Clint: We are proud to be the newest addition to such a wonderful group of people in the DFW area. We look forward to meeting new people and making more music for you all to enjoy!
Blood Bells: Thank you for taking time with us, Oliver Cheers!
Blood Bells have a Facebook page here.