Featuring former members of Tantric, Days of the New, Submersed, and Eye Empire, Blisskrieg has plenty of stories to tell. Coming together during the chaos of 2020, the band recently dropped their awesome debut album, Remedy, so we spoke to Jesse Vest from the band for the inside story of their musical journey.
Thanks for your time. How is 2021 treating you so far and what are your hopes for the year ahead?
Jesse Vest: “2021 is treating me well (so far). After a tumultuous 2020, I’ve consciously made an effort to change the way I think about and plan for things. Before the pandemic, I was a guy that pretty much knew what I was doing six months ahead of time. Now, I’m forced to take each day as it comes, and I’m learning to appreciate the freedom that allows. I still have goals, of course, but now they’re much vaguer. Release this album, try to get it out where people can hear it. Write some more songs, maybe play some shows… It’s nice to have something to aim for, while still allowing for disruptions and obstacles along the way.”
So, your new album is out in a few weeks, what can you tell us about it?
“From my own perspective, this was the most enjoyable, least stressful creative experience of my career. It’s a true representation of us as artists, with no cajoling from record company execs or outside producers. It was written, produced, performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered by us alone, with (guitarist) Todd (Whitener) handling the heavy lifting on the more technical aspects. That dude is a workhorse in the studio. If people love it, we get the credit… If people hate it, we get the credit.”
You’ve described the album as diverse. What do you think inspired that diversity?
“The diversity was a natural extension of the fact that we made a concerted effort to place ZERO limitations on ourselves during the writing process. If we liked a song idea, we saw it through to the end and tried to do what was right for the individual song, as opposed to trying to force it into the mould of some other song. The end result was a surprising mix of vibes.”
You’ve also described the album as being one that will take the listener on a journey. What can you tell us about that journey?
“I make it a point to tell people that this is NOT a concept album, in the traditional sense. It doesn’t spell out a specific storyline like Operation: Mindcrime, or The Wall, but it does have a through-line from the first song to the last. You start the album in one emotional landscape, and by the time you finish it you’re in a completely different place. During the writing process, we had a constant conversation going with each other about the challenges our society was facing in 2020, and I think a lot of the sentiments from those talks found their way onto the record, musically and lyrically. This is an album that probably couldn’t have been recorded in any other year.”
The band came together in 2020. What was it that brought you together?
“The short version of the story is that the world ended. Todd and (singer) Donald (Carpenter) had been in contact prior to the pandemic and were discussing getting together to write some songs. (Drummer) Matt (Taul) and I were not in the picture at that point, because we had other things going on and couldn’t really be involved. Once COVID moved in and shut everything down, all my gigs got canceled and I suddenly found myself with a ton of free time on my hands. Todd and I started talking and I reached out to Matt. We all thought this would be a great way to spend our downtime.”
You’ve performed together since a young age though. How important do you think that long-standing connection is for the band?
“I’d say it’s impossible to overstate the role that our connection played in the making of this record. On a practical level, it was a real time-saver. Matt didn’t even have to finish his sentences (musically speaking) because I could finish them for him. We just knew what each other was thinking, and we spoke the same language. Also, there is no need to walk on eggshells with us. For example, if I was doing something that didn’t feel right with the song, Todd could straight up tell me without the risk of offending me. There’s a comfort level with the three of us that feels like family. The biggest surprise for me was how easily Donald was able to walk into our existing dynamic. It was really crazy like he’d been there the whole time. He’s a great dude, and has an amazing gift.”
The collaboration is something that has been talked about between you for a while. What stopped you getting together until 2020?
“I think it was kind of like an inertia, you know? Like we all just got wrapped up in our own personal lives with our own priorities, and we just never made a solid effort to make anything happen. I really believe this project would never have happened without the pandemic.”
What do you remember about those first sessions as Blisskrieg?
“At first, none of us really expected to be putting an entire album together. We thought we’d get together and write a couple of songs, or possibly an EP. I remember going into it thinking it was going to be a fun weekend, having some bourbon, hanging out, and jamming a few tunes. After the first hour, I came to the realization that we’d stumbled into something very special. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and that is the absolute truth. The songs literally felt like they were writing themselves. It was so effortless, and by the end of that first session I think we all knew this was going to be a full album at least.”
The name is a play on words, how do you feel it fits your music and the themes you write about?
“Yes, Blisskrieg is of course a play on the old German word ‘blitzkrieg.’ I’m kind of a history nerd, and I’ve always been a fan of that word. It roughly translates to ‘lightning war. I like the duality that’s implied in the name Blisskrieg. It kind of encapsulates everything we write songs about, and by ‘we’ I mean artists in general. We don’t write songs about the ordinary, mundane aspects of life, we write about the extremes. Love and hate, joy and pain, war and peace, light and dark, good and evil. These are the extremes that make interesting art. I can only hope that we live up to the name.”
You’ve all performed together and had a lot of experiences playing in other bands. How did you think that all of those combined experiences both together and in other bands has helped you with this collaboration?
“I’ve been telling people from the beginning of this project that I truly felt it had a maturity level that is much higher than our previous bands, and I think it has to do with this very question. The music just seems more ‘seasoned’ to me, and I think it’s because we are more seasoned (both as men and as artists). We’re a little older and hopefully a little wiser, and all of our collective years of experience in the studio, on stage, and in everyday life have helped us to be better prepared overall for an album like this.”
You must know all about each other’s bad habits as well… care to spill the beans?
“I will say that the bad habits we have now are NOTHING compared to the bad habits of our past. The younger versions of ourselves were much more prone to overindulging, and being tempted by things that were not healthy for us. All in all, we’re extremely well behaved. It may seem almost boring to some people, but it’s amazing how stability and peace will come into your life if you simply invite it in.”
Looking ahead now, what are your long-term plans for the collaboration?
“I’d say we don’t have any ‘long-term’ plans at the moment, but we have all agreed that this chemistry is just too good to stop here. We have already started sharing some ideas with each other for the next recording session, so whether it’s a single, an EP, or another full-length record, we will be releasing more content at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Thanks again for your time and good luck with everything. Over to you for the final words…
“My final words would be thank you! To you guys for taking enough of an interest to do this story, and to ALL of our fans over the years from ALL of our different projects. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the careers we’ve had, and we talk to each other often about the concept of gratitude and the importance of being actively grateful for the blessings we’ve had. Thank you guys, and we will continue to do our best to create art that is true to ourselves.”