Brooklyn’s disco-metal group Makes My Blood Dance is an endless experiment in creativity for its founders. Frontman Evan Russell Saffer met his songwriting partner and MMBD’s lead guitar/synth player Jon Kristian at a transitional time in life, early in recovery from addiction.
The title track of their upcoming tour, Makes My Blood Dance’s latest single, “Heaven Collides,” pushes out thundering guitars, wailing vocals, and potent percussion. The lyric video is steeped in tortured imagery ranging from the mystical to the occult, along with night-club neon graphics echoing Kristian and crew’s ferocious instrumentals,
V13 caught up with the core of Makes My Blood Dance – Evan Russell Saffer and Jon Kristian – to talk about their bold sound.
What inspired your new single/music video, “Heaven Collides?”
Evan Russell Saffer: “This song is about feeling lonely, uncomfortable, and not good enough. I write these intense feelings down and have to remember that feelings are not facts; they are only feelings. We have to look at our feelings and not become the feelings; otherwise, they rule us and shape who we are. That is part of my conscious evolution and how I use music to level up.”
Who is in Makes My Blood Dance, and which instrument do they play?
ERS: “MMBD, at its core, is Jon Kristian and myself writing, programming, masterminding our tours, and networking with other bands and creatives. Most recently, we were in Los Angeles at Revolver Studios for the better part of June 2023, recording with Mikal Blue and Brett Mazur, creating the next level of what you’ll hear from us in the coming year. Super inspiring team, and we are so blessed to have the opportunity and drive to get there and work with these blokes. We had Alan Zaparoli on drums in the studio all the way from Rio, Brazil – who has recorded on our last two EPs as well. Our touring lineup, which you will see in action on the upcoming ‘Heaven Collides Tour’ is:
Evan Russell Saffer: voice.
Jon Kristian: guitar/programming.
Filia Luna: bass.
Crow Starbird: drums.”
How did you get started in music?
ERS: “No idea; it’s in my blood. That’s like saying how did you get started on Earth. My training came from my early years with my dad in recording studios – he produced jingles for commercials, and then I really studied classical singing and theatre for years during my childhood.”
Let’s talk gear for a moment. Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
Jon Kristian: “We just wrapped up recording a few singles with Mikal Blue and Bret Mazur at Revolver Studios in LA. I used a BluGuitar Iridium amp (amp head shrunk to the size of a pedal) and slaved it to a Bogner’s amp power stage – the sound was ridiculous. Specifically used for a 7-string guitar-based song; got the gated high-gain sound sought out by Djent players, but still had the massive sound of a tube amp behind it, it was fantastic and discovered by accident.”
Are there any special recording techniques you use in the studio?
JK: “Apart from the weird guitar setup, we did some unique stuff with the kick drum. We set a table in front of it and covered the kick + the table in a tarp. Inside that, we had one mic capturing the front of the kick and another behind the resonating head, which captured the beater head. This got us punchy and massive sound and shielded the mics from cymbal bleed. I’ve seen Tool do this in the studio before; I’m sure it was a big part of their drum sound as well.”
How do you keep your sound consistent on stage?
JK: “A lot of it just has to do with the backline and protocol we take with us for the whole tour – a 6-piece kit and 2×12 guitar kit hooked to my BluGuitar pedal. We run some tracks with synthesizers and background vocals to beef up the sound. We always sound check with the same song and have a certain mixing protocol we convey to every sound engineer on the road. It’s not perfect, but it’s fairly consistent and elevates the whole experience.”
Which vocalists/musicians influenced your sound?
ERS: “I’ll chime in here; that would most likely be the following cast of characters: Axl Rose, Brian Johnson, Layne Staley, Freddie Mercury, and Jim Morrison. Beyond that, I do take a page from ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’ I’m a superfan of rock operas and add that cabaret/theatrical approach to technical metal, which is the basis of MMBD’s sound.”
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
ERS: “It’s usually whatever I am going through but always with a twist of spirituality. I’m not one for complaining; I’m always looking at myself and how I can improve. There have been a lot of recurring themes with me, and with humanity, and I feel now is a turning point. I’m appreciating what I have more, using gratitude as an amplifier for spiritual intention and leveling up. Jon and I have always connected on faith, and it’s a daily part of our communication and lifestyle while touring.”
What can you share about your writing process?
ERS: “The process lives with Jon and myself pinging the musical ideas back and forth many, many times, always tweaking and improving it until it’s ready for more ears. Alan Z. has been adding more than just drums from his studio in Brazil, often augmenting synths. The final stage is bringing those songs to the tours and workshopping them for months before deciding which ones are worthy for the studio with someone like Mikal Blue or Dave Ogilvie, who mixed our last two EPs.”
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
ERS: “We are big fans of the underground and artists you may not have heard of; check out all the support artists on the upcoming Heaven Collides Tour with MMBD. We also playlist them all on Spotify under Alpha Centauri Records, which you can find on Makes My Blood Dance’s Spotify page. Some of the bigger acts that we respect and admire both musically and visually: Electric Callboy, Demi Lovato (love the new metal-inspired song ‘Swine’), Ghost, Poppy, Bad Omens, Paramore, and Turnstile. I could go on, love all styles of music; that is why I never get tired of networking with younger artists and listening to what they have going on.”
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?
ERS: “The new, visually stunning lyric video for ‘Heaven Collides’ just came out. Subscribe and check it out here. Also, our latest video for ‘Together Apart’ has gotten a lot of attention with the awesome choreography and dance sequences. Check that one here. We will be shooting another video late this year for at least one of the new songs we just recorded in Los Angeles with Mikal Blue. Keep an eye on our website for all MMBD content, videos, and tours. Enter your number and we’ll text you when we’re on tour in your area. The ‘Heaven Collides Tour’ runs up and down the east coast from Aug. 3 to Aug. 19. There are two more tours after that in 2023. Keep an eye on our site and follow Makes My Blood Dance on Instagram for announcements.”