Though his old band, Jersey, was one of the first bands I listened to under the punk genre-umbrella back before I even hit high school, Ian Blackwood still manages to keep me entertained through his music. Recently I got to sit down with the guitarist/vocalist of The Artist Life to discuss hair, award ceremonies, songs with the same title and the plan for ’09. There’s even a guest appearance by Underground Operation’s Katie Clark, check it out!
What would you say the best cure for getting one of your band’s catchy songs out of your mind is?
Ian: [with a satirical smile]: Listening to the next catchy one.
The next catchy one? Okay, well that was in-depth. [Both laugh] Quick cure I guess. Well, “Let’s Start a Riot” is also a track by Three 6 Mafia, who has the better one?
Ian: Three 6 Mafia? Um, I didn’t know that, I thought it was a track by…
Three Days Grace.
Ian: Yeah, Three Days Grace. Whose is better? Our song is better then all of them for sure.
Oh yeah? And why’s that?
Ian: It’s ‘cause you’re asking… I’m the singer in the band! [Both laughing] I’m gonna tell you it’s us.
You should do a mix with Three 6 Mafia.
Ian: Sure! I’d be down! I think that would be awesome, I’d be into that.
Have you even heard that song?
Ian: I’ve never heard that version. Their version, of our song.
Okay well their chorus is “Let’s start a [motherfuckin’] riot in this ho, let’s start a motherfuckin’ riot in this bitch” you know, so it would go a long perfectly.
Ian: Nice! I think it would be really cool to do that together; we could do a really cool thing together.
Definitely suggest that.
Katie: Do a remix!
R-R-R-Remix. Um, as a band in your genre do you feel any sort of pressure to write lyrics with certain content?
Ian: No, we don’t really feel pressure, we just write what we want to write. I think there’s a certain amount of social aspect to talk about, I think there’s things to talk about if you wanted to, I mean you don’t have to shove it down anyone’s throat. But we could talk about the state of our government; we could talk about the state of, you know, what the United States are going through right now with the big change they have. I think there’s things you can talk about; I don’t feel any pressure to write about anything specific though. I think it’s just we right about what we feel, and if we want to sing about something or talk about something then we do it.
Alright, so where does most of your inspiration come from then?
Ian: Life experiences I think are the most important to us, like I think we relate to that the best, I think we write about that kind of stuff the best like losing a family member or learning a life lesson like learning that you should probably, you know, change the tires on your van or they are gonna get bad and you could get in an accident, you know [both laughing] little things like that.
[pointing at feet]: Don’t wear canvas shoes in winter…
Ian: [laughing] Yeah, like you said, exactly! Your feet will freeze.
Yeah, Katie and I are both in that boat. Okay, “The Last Time” off your latest release is up for Song of the Year, you gonna win it?
Ian: Uh, yeah I hope so.
Ian: Yeah, I mean, you know what? Kay, we’re contending with some serious artists with a lot, I mean, just for us to be in the category with them it’s already like, we’re already mind-blown to be announced with bands like Cancer Bats and Living With Lions, so you know we’re just excited about that so whether we win or not it doesn’t matter. The important thing is we’re going to be hanging with friends tonight and we get to play this show, so it’s cool!
Yeah, you guys have only been around for like a year or something, right?
Ian: 2 years, technically
Yeah, so I guess being honoured by an FU Award is kind of…
Ian: Yeah, we won the Young Jedi Award last year, you can’t win every year so you know, it’s just an honour to be nominated again this year. And just to be playing with our friends, the award is sort of secondary to the fact that tonight it just going to be a fantastic night, you know, a night to remember, and to be part of the 2nd annual part of it is…. And we feel sort of like honoured in the way that we won last year, so we were part of it last year, we’re part of it this year, it feels sort of like our territory in a way too, so we feel good about it.
If you guys could make up a category, ‘cause these one’s are pretty ’laxed eh? What would you guys definitely win, what are you guys the best at?
Ian: Uh, maybe like hair, [both laughing] we take a lot of time in doing our hair. Maybe if there was like a hair category, or maybe like Coolest Dude Category, our bass player Chuck, he’s pretty cool, I don’t know, I think he could win that category. He’s also kind of weird [both laugh] I don’t know, when that guy puts on a suit he looks like Brad Pitt so it’s like….
[still laughing] Oh yeah?
Ian: Yeah, and he’s got all these cool suits ‘cause he used to be a banker and now he’s like a mortgage broker like he’s a pretty smart dude and like if he really wants to clean up, he can clean up. He looks like he’s from Ocean’s Eleven or something like that so…
Then you should have the Look-Alike Category, how about that?
Ian: That’d be cool, yeah!
Sid Vicious hair?
Ian: Yeah, maybe. Yeah!
Just for you there.
Ian: Yeah, I’d like to go up with that, I think I could give Sid a run for his money.
Sweetish, yeah maybe, I don’t know, Sex Pistols are good. [Laughs] What would you rather win Grammy, Juno or FU Award?
Ian: Uh, wow, Grammy.
Grammy? Why’s that?
Ian: ‘Cause it’s like Canadian bands, okay let’s set something straight. I‘d love to win any of them. You know, I’d love to win a Juno award and represent our country in a fantastic way, I love Canada, we love where we’re from. We are in no way, by no means a band that says, “Oh, forget Canada, we’re just going to try and be big in the States.” The thing about winning a Grammy though is, I think, it could do a lot of great things. You could open up a market for a bunch of younger bands that are trying, and you know, maybe if you show them that a band like The Artist Life can win a Grammy then maybe they can do something, maybe they can make change and maybe they can make a career out of it, so, yeah!
So Grammy it is then! But like, you got the horn man! Compared to what is the Juno anyway?
Ian: The Juno?
Yeah, what does it look like?
Ian: Oh! Uh… I don’t even know! [Turns to Katie while Spenny laughs] What does the Juno look like, Katie? The Juno Award, what does it look like?
Katie: It’s like a weird like glass… [Motions with arms]
Ian: Glass like…
Ian: …rain drop or something?
Katie: I think it looks like a bowling pin almost. Oh my god, don’t quote me on that!
Ian: [both laughing]: It might look like a bowling pin we’re not quite sure.
Oh man! So definitely the horn over the bowling pin then?
Okay, cool, uh…
Ian: …Is that sexual? [Both laughing]
We don’t know… Katie said sexual.
Ian: You’re going to take this and flop it I know! “The Artist Life, they prefer the horn over the bowling pin” What does that even mean? I know where you’re going with this…
They’re innuendos man!
Let’s Start a Riot has been out since late October, what’s the response been like thus far?
Ian: So far it’s been, I mean, everyone that’s been reviewing it and even just straight up fans that have been listening to it have been super stoked about it. Some people, it’s funny because we get a lot of reviews that say like, like Exclaim are very famous for either giving us these fantastic reviews or they give us this great review but it takes time to get to like… you’ll hear like “Poppy lyrics and blah, blah, blah, can be detrimental… but in this case” It makes you feel like “Oh god! This is gonna be a horrible review!” and really it ends up being a fantastic review, but so far the response has been amazing! I think people have enjoyed the fact that we’ve sort of lost a little bit of the heavier routes stuff and gone a little more like, catchy? And, I mean, we didn’t do that on purpose we just did that because that’s what we like to do and I think even on Living with “Resting Place” and “City Blocks”, “Soldier Charlie” stuff like that, I think it sort of speaks for itself that we were kind of going that route anyways.
Yeah, okay… well are there any talks or probably just murmurs at this point, about the next The Artist Life album?
Ian: Um, definitely not murmurs, more so like full on band practices and chats. We’ve been writing for the full length since kind of like the EP. The EP came from like a chunk of songs; those 5 songs came from like 10 songs we’d already written, so we picked our favourites. It was awesome! We’ve been in a great situation with that it’s like we had 7 or 8 great songs and we got to pick our favourite 5 and now we’re at a point where we have like 15 or 16 new songs already and it’s like, we get to pick our favourite, you know, 12. So, no, there’s definitely more then murmurs. If anything it’s like, already, we’re ready to be demoing really soon. Oh yeah, we’re work horses, we like to use our time really well.
So when can we be expecting you guys to hit the studio? Any idea?
Ian: Hopefully in the springtime, I think it’s gonna be the best time in April or May. We’ll see, it would be nice to have a summer release again, you just never know with these things. But again, we’re in a situation where we’re working our asses off, we’re writing tunes constantly and you know, we’re just putting together, I guess it’s going to probably be our favourite, you know 12 or 13 songs that will end up being an album so hopefully by summertime it’ll be out.
Cool. Alright, well other then the new album, what do the last 11 months of this year hold for The Artist Life?
Ian: Hopefully a lot of touring, I mean, we’re looking forward to doing western Canada, we haven’t been out there yet. We want to do western Canada, on Riot, we get in the studio, we want to record, then we want to do a full Canadian tour, go down to the States, we’d like to go to Europe, you know. A lot of touring, a lot of working is what we’re looking forward to. [ END ]