Q&A: The Bled guitarist Jeremy Talley

February 4, 2010

Q&A: The Bled guitarist Jeremy Talley

For a minute there, it was a tense time to be a fan of THE BLED. After touring in support of their 2007 full-length, Silent Treatment, the Tucson, Arizona, post-hardcore outfit found themselves in debt, on unsteady terms with Vagrant Records and on the verge of walking away. In fact, three members did just that, while those who remained, including guitarist JEREMY TALLEY, pursued other projects and day jobs. The Bled eventually became free agents, were snapped up by Rise Records and thanks largely to the unyielding support of their fans, the band reformed with three new members--guitarist Robbie Burbidge, bassist Brady Murray and drummer Josh Skibar. With a new label and what Talley refers to as new focus, the Bled are set to release their fourth album, Heat Fetish, in March. Guess who’s more excited about this than anyone.

INTERVIEW: Lucy Albers


You guys just finished up a tour with Four Year Strong, This Time Next Year and Title Fight. How did that go?
Awesome. We were definitely the odd band out as far as the whole package was concerned, but it was definitely a lot of fun and we prefer it that way. We like touring with bands who don’t sound much like us, but we weren’t so far removed that kids couldn’t get into us. It was a lot of fun. Everyone on the tour was fun; no egos, no fun-hating or anything like that. [Four Year Strong] are still on it. I wish we could’ve done the whole thing, but that’s what we were offered and that’s what we took.

Do you have more tour plans lined up for the spring?
We’re doing a Canadian tour with Dead And Divine and a Rise Records tour, which is still being figured out as far as routing goes, but I think two other bands are confirmed. Other than that, our album [Heat Fetish] comes out in a month, and we’ll be doing some local shows and a CD release show and hopefully some California shows, too. We haven’t been to the West Coast in a while.

How are your hometown shows now that you’ve been on the road for so many years?
Well, what happened was the main venue here in town closed down and the only place to really play now is the Rialto, which is this big theatre. We’ve done shows there, but it’s just a different scene now. A lot of people don’t know where the shows are, and the economy is a lot worse. So it’s just a different situation [than it used to be]. [The scene] isn’t quite as huge as it was. But, you know, we still do really well in Tucson. Kids come out and have fun and it definitely has a hometown vibe to it when we play.

The title of your new album, Heat Fetish, references your hometown. Is that the lyrical basis of the album, too?
It’s more about, like, we’re from here--there aren’t a whole lot of bands around--and it’s also devastatingly hot during the summer. So that’s something unique about our band. It’s not easy to function [in Tucson] on an everyday basis. Something as trivial as going to the store takes a lot more work than doing it during the summer in the Midwest. [The album] is about being from here and growing up here and the tension it creates with everyday life. We wanted to make this record about us and who we are and what we go through living here. We wanted to incorporate that in with the lyrics and everything we’ve gone through during the past couple years--[the band] falling apart and having to put it back together. Some people who were on our side before don’t back us up anymore. It’s about things like that. So, in that sense, it’s a really personal record. We also wanted the artwork to be desert-based and just kind of make it feel like heat. That was the mood we wanted to create. We try to create a mood with every record we make.

What was it like making this album compared to your past releases?
I think the main difference is that we have three new members. The previous lineup [consisted of members with] extremely different tastes, so writing was always very conflicted. I mean, it worked for us, and we used it for a more dynamic record. There would be parts where I would be like, “Wow, where did this Pink Floyd-esque guitar riff come from?” [Laughs.] There were people in the band who really wanted to bring those qualities in. This album is a lot more focused. We went to the practice space and everyone has a lot more similar musical tastes and pays attention to the scene that we take part in and grew up in--more than with the previous form of the Bled. We were like, “Let’s make this a full-out heavy-ass record and let’s focus on making it super-energetic and crazy.” It really made us step up our game to be what we like as a band, which is being a heavy band with really catchy parts without having to go into pop parts. We don’t want to have too many pop-punk or indie parts. The fact that we could all sit in the same room and agree on what we wanted made it come out a lot smoother.

How much time did you take to write the album?
We wrote probably four or five songs within the first couple of practices of this lineup. Then, we went on tour with the Used and we came back and wrote a couple more songs. After we took some time off to do a tour with Alesana, we came back to finish the record. We probably wrote for six or seven months, which is pretty good for us. We’re pretty slow at writing. [Laughs.] We’re not just one of those bands that can just, like, you know, write 30 songs in a month. I know there’s a lot of bands out there that are like ‘oh man, we have like 50 songs written for the new record’ and I’m like ‘what? How can you write that many songs?’ I just can’t do that, that’s just not how I’m built I guess.

Were all the songs written with the new lineup or is any of it older material?
Well, it’s funny because when we went on break, I had started this other band [Starving Arms] with Robbie [Burbidge] and Brad [Murray]--who are now in the Bled. Pretty much everyone from that other band is in the Bled now, so we just used a few of those guitar riffs and built off of them and teased them and went from there. So yeah, we had some previously written, but I would say 80 percent was written in the practice space as the Bled.

How excited are you for the album to be released?
You have no idea. This is the most painful part about being in a band: when you have an album finished and have the masters back and you just want to get it out there. We put two songs up on our MySpace page and the response has been overwhelming. I just want to know what everyone thinks about it. There are always bands out there saying they don’t care about what others think and that they write for themselves. But we’re a band who perform for other people. We do it for ourselves, but we also do it because other people care about it. We wouldn’t have even kept the Bled going if nobody gave a shit anymore. But people kept commenting on our MySpace like a year after we weren’t doing anything and they kept the band alive by supporting us. People were saying, “We want you back” and, “We want new material” and, “I think it sucks you guys broke up.” Those were the things that weighed in when we were talking about doing the band again. It definitely helped motivate us to keep things going and get this record out. I’m so proud of this album; it’s definitely my favorite Bled release. I can listen to it all the way through without having to skip songs, which is a first for me. [Laughs.]

This album is also your first with Rise Records. What propelled the jump from Vagrant?
We had one more record to do and we had an option with Vagrant that they could put it out if they wanted to. Leaving was basically agreed on by both parties. In our opinion, they really dropped the ball on the promotion of [2007’s] Silent Treatment, and some of it was no fault of their own because they had some business stuff go down at the last minute. But they sent us to the studio with no money and the record came out being very poorly promoted because of a lack of money. We felt like we weren’t cared about as much towards the end because we weren’t, ya know, Chris Carrabba [of Dashboard Confessional] or Saves The Day or Senses Fail. We weren’t one of the bands who were going to make a ton of money for them, and I feel like they kind of cared less about us than they did those other bands. That’s understandable; it’s business. But with Rise, when they found out that we were free, they jumped at it. We had offers from other labels, but Rise was really on top of it. They were fans of the band before and they didn’t care how many records we sold. They didn’t care that some of the members were new and it really felt like they were going to hold up their end of the bargain and promote us. So far, everything has been on time with them. There are full-page ads in every major magazine right now. It’s amazing. Working at Hot Topic, I can see from an outside perspective and learn about Rise just from their promotion. It’s like, “Wow, this label is really blowing up.” That was even before we signed with them. They’re signing bands who are really helping them grow and using their money in the right way. They’re signing bands they really like. They don’t care how bands do as far as record sales and stuff, they just want to put out good music and build their roster. It feels like we’re at a really good place to be right now.

What kind of reaction did the move elicit from your fans? We caught some heat. Some fans were like, “All the bands on [Rise] are garbage.” Honestly, I hadn’t heard 95 percent of the bands on that label when we signed with them. But I’m not here to like every band on the roster. I’m here to work on my own band and go with who’s going to push us and who really cares about us. We’ve been on labels that we were stoked on and loved most of the bands on it and it didn’t do anything for us. Its awesome and an honor to be on the same label as Saves The Day--who are one of my favorite bands ever. But in the long run, it doesn’t really matter who’s on the label. I just want to be where we’re cared about, and that’s Rise.

Are you excited to be playing the Bamboozle?
We’re so stoked about playing it. We’ve played it several times; Bamboozle and Bamboozle [California] when it was still called the Skate And Surf Festival. It’s always a good time. We have a great fan base [on the East Coast], so it’ll be an awesome show. It’s one of those things where you get to see bands and people you normally wouldn’t go pay to see. Last year, I got to see 50 Cent at Bamboozle Left for free. I would never pay to go see him, but I got to watch him from the stage and it was an awesome experience--one I’ll probably never have again. This year, it’s going to be Drake and Ke$ha.

What else is next?
We have some time off until the album comes out [on March 2] and we’ll be writing more. We want to stay ahead of our game for right now. Even if we don’t end up keeping any of the songs for the next record, I just want to keep things fresh. Usually, we write a record and then we’re on tour all the time and we don’t even get a chance to adjust the songs properly. Some of them don’t ever get played because we’re on tour and have to play the same set every night. We’re talking about playing [Heat Fetish] front-to-back for our record release show, which would be awesome. We’ve never done that before and it would be a new challenge for us. alt

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