Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bl'ast!: 'Blood!' will spill with release of 25-year-old recording session

Bl'ast! in action: From left, Clifford Dinsmore, Mike Neider, Dave Cooper and William "Kip" Duvall. (Courtesy photos)

By Andy

Musical maniacs... and super nice guys -- the perfect concoction.

That's Bl'ast! for you -- the shredding, gut-busting, eye-gouging band hailing from Santa Cruz. I've seen them play live and hung out with them in bars ... they live large wherever they go.

While on a mini tour with Corrosion of Conformity in Boston in 1986, Bl'ast! first dismantled people's minds at the Rat and then introduced me to the wonders of Bass Ale at the Fathers, Too pub. These guys devoured the stuff by the pitcher, were friendly with most folks but were intimidating to a few patrons... it was fascinating to watch them in action. By the end of the night, singer Clifford Dinsmore and COC guitarist Woody Weatherman were standing on a table, rocking it back and forth and singing at the top of their lungs as Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" blared from the jukebox. Some wooden crates were kicked to shreds by end of the night somewhere along the way from the bar to our resting place at Mike Gitter's apartment.

In Albany, NY, on the same tour, the younger punks in the crowd got an in-your-face introduction to Dinsmore while drummer Bill Torgerson, bassist Dave Cooper and guitarists Mike Neider and Steve Stevenson chugged away in the background. The guitarists bent back and forth, first planted on two legs and then balancing on one as the music pummeled the youths.(Nowadays, the Bl'ast! guys' stage presence even reminds me of those flailing air balloons you see in front of car dealerships.)

From left, Stevenson, Cooper, Neider and Dinsmore. (Alison Braun photo)

In New Haven, Conn., on the final night, Dinsmore pounded a blue plastic milk crate into the stage while I rushed forward to unleash a long-winded scream into the microphone at the end of one song. "Was that you, man?" Weatherman asked me with a laugh later.

Once at Gilman Street in Berkeley, Torgerson smiled wickedly at me from behind his kit with the word "dirty" scrawled on his forehead in black marker.

In June 2013, Neider and Dinsmore invaded Dave Grohl's Studio 606 in Northridge, CA, to give a final stamp of approval to Grohl's remixing job on "Blood!," recordings from 25 years ago that will be released on Southern Lord Recordings on Sept. 3. The album features William "Kip" Duvall on second guitar; as most people know, he's the former Neon Christ guitarist who now sings for Alice in Chains.

Here's an email interview with Neider and Dinsmore about their recent Bl'ast! experiences -- and check the bottom of this post for some extra insight:

--How did this new release, "Blood!," come about?

Neider: I've been working with Greg Anderson (Southern Lord) with our businesses (Neider owns rrise merchandising) the past 10 years. I told him I had these tapes and he wanted to see if they were usable. As soon as he found out that they were.....

--How did you get Davd Grohl on board?

Neider: As soon as (Anderson) found out the tapes were good, he told Dave Grohl about what has transpired and he wanted to check it out for himself at his studio. (It's) one of the reasons he built a studio. Dave says this was a rare and amazing opportunity and he was going to do the same to Nirvana after Bl'ast! was done.

--What took place during the visit to Grohl's studio? I've seen photos of you guys with Scott Hill, Anderson and Grohl ... was it a gab session about guitars or did you get some work done on the album?

Neider: Well, we wanted good friends and people who've always been stoked on our band through the years to check out what was happening and Grohl and Lou (Lousteau) had this album sounding amazing before I even got to the studio. They started on "Only Time Will Tell." Walked into the studio with an amazing greeting with an old friend and a 25-year-old recording that was fucking amazing sounding. Throughout the week, we had friends stop in to check out how cool this was. At the end of the session, Dave popped open a bottle of Brennivin, this crazy juice from Iceland, and cranked the shit out of the record through the Sound City board. Awesome.

Grohl, Anderson, Neider (with Brennivin) and Dinsmore. (Courtesy photo)

--What were your feelings upon hearing the "Blood!" session after all these years?

Dinsmore: When we walked into the studio, Greg asked if we were ready for a little trip down memory lane ...and man, what a trip it was! It sounds huge, and it was so rad to hear all the lost tracks. It was great to be in Dave's studio amongst old friends, and another highlight, that really took the cake for me, was talking to Will Duvall for the fist time in 25 years!

--What does Duvall think about all this Bl'ast! resurgence?

Neider: He was excited to get his part of Bl'ast! heard and brought to the surface.

(Courtesy photo)

--Looking back, what was your time in Bl'ast! like? What are some top memories?

Neider: The generosity at Studio 606 and Dave Grohl was one of the best things. We never have been treated that good. Meeting the people we have met through the years. Having the release of the assaults of Bl'ast! live ... ha ha

Dinsmore: I always had a lot of fun back in the Bl'ast! days, and somehow, a lot of the best times seemed to involve C.O.C. I think it would be rad to play some shows with them, and try to relive our sordid past....I might even shave my chest for that one!

--Why is now a good time for this Bl'ast! release? Is the world ready to be pummeled again by your tunes?

Neider: Oh yeah, this is the way it should of sounded -- we never had a great studio experience until now. It's better than ever.

Dinsmore: Now is a great time for this to be released-- it was very unique music for that time period, and the world really needs a breath of fresh air in the form of a severe ass kicking!

--What does the future look like for Bl'ast! Are there plans for any reunion gigs to coincide with the "Blood" release?

Neider: Yeah, if all goes as planned, we want to release a new record and play shows and make it overseas, finally. We have yet to do that. Looking forward to playing some Bl'ast! will be up soon.

Here's what a few Bl'ast! friends have to say about the band:

-- "They were always a massive powerhouse, an intense wall of awesome noise." -- Woody Weatherman, COC

Andy, left, and Woody watching Bl'ast! in Chapel Hill, NC, in 1986. (Courtesy photo)

-- Scott Hill from Fu Manchu weighs in:

"From the minute I got Bl'ast! "It's in My Blood" back in 1987, I think I've listened to that record about 500 times or more. I love that record about as much as Bl'ast! "The Power of Expression," and anyone that knows me or Fu Manchu knows that those are two HUGE records that influenced me a lot!

I still watch this live show that me and a friend of mine videotaped of a Bl'ast! show at the Anti-Club in Hollywood, CA back in 1986 with the lineup on this record and it's insane! My first hardcore band, Virulence, got to open a show with Bl'ast! / Agent Orange in Santa Barbara, CA back in 1986 and it was still one of thee heaviest shows I've witnessed.

Sorry for the this record!!!!!"

-- Brian Walsby, artist/drummer:

"I still listen to Bl'ast! They were super cool guys and they certainly out-Flagged Black Flag on occasion. Loved the original five-piece version the best, but did see them with that ex-Neon Christ fellow "Kip" Duvall-- and you know what?... they were awesome. William was really good. It's a shame no one will ever hear all of the Neon Christ songs he had written before that band broke up. William is super talented and has always been a really cool guy. PS...Look up the footage of his and Mike Dean's brief band afterwards, the Final Offering."

Neider, Hill and Dinsmore. (Courtesy photo)