Bloods are the sort of band that don’t mind taking their time.
With their first album, Work It Out, being released in 2014, many doors opened, including their first visit to the US as a band, along with their first South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival.
Four years later, taking their pop-punk ethos and turning it into a more refined sound, the four-piece from Sydney have released one of the best albums of 2018.
Lead singer, writer and guitarist, MC (or Marihuzka Cornelius on her licence), explained what the new album means to her, “The album itself is called Feelings, because it is almost like an emotional journey.
“There was a lot of time between the last record and this album. We did a lot of awesome things like touring and playing overseas. We had this collection of songs but it just felt like our sound was evolving as more time passed and we wanted to do it right,” MC explained.
“We wanted to do the songs justice. A lot of life happened in between as well. It kind of delayed the process but also added to it. This album has been a bit of a journey and I think the time passed is reflected in the music as well.”
In this era of high music demand, where it feels like eighteen months not hearing from a band is an age, the pressure to continually create music seems to be ever-present, but if we look into the past, it was the norm for bands to only release a new album every three or four years.
MC agrees, “I think people consume music so quickly now – it’s all about what the next single is. I think we’re stuck in the ‘90s man!”
It’s a decade, that has also heavily influenced the sound of the band. The fuzz of the guitars, the elevation of the lyrics, the guitar solos! The semi-ironic track, Talk, utilising the magic chord progression that was ever-present in the ‘90s (think Dammit, Self Esteem and even The Spice Girls’ Wannabe), becomes a pumping homage to teenage movies, disguising heavy lyrics within a pop-punk package.
It’s this throwback sound with a playful Australian edge that brought the band to America’s attention after hitting up SXSW in 2015 and supporting The Preatures on a big tour. Now, signed to Share It Music along with a Sub Pop publishing deal, the band is preparing to go back, with new expectations.
MC is excited to return, “We’re just so stoked to get back over there. We had literally the time of our life when we went over there the first time and we made so many new friends and our record label is over there as well. So, we’re just so stoked to get over there and play shows and reconnect with all of our US mates.”
This time, SXSW will be a much different scenario for the band. With two albums under their belt (Work It Out was released in the US during the festival in 2015) and a lot more contact with the scene, MC is hoping to make their mark.
“I think this time, we’ve had quite a bit of time between releasing the album and going over there and hopefully we’ll be able to cut through a little bit. There’re so many bands! If you can tack something else on to the end of it, then it’s a really great thing to do…
“… A lot of young bands go over there and expect that to be their moment and you’re competing against some really amazing artists.”
The schedule can be hectic, as MC explained, “The last time we played there, we played so many shows, like each day was 3 or 4 shows. By the end of it, you’re kind of a mess, but it’s a lot of fun and you eat a lot of BBQ!”.
MC continues, “I remember the last time we played – on the first night there – I think we played three shows on the one day and we’d just arrived the day before. My hand actually just seized and I physically couldn’t play anymore! We kind of just had to cut out a couple of songs. It does catch up with you!”
Australian music has been making huge headway into the States of late when looking at artists like Courtney Barnett, Gang of Youths, Alex Lahey and Camp Cope. Bloods could very well be that next ‘it’ band to represent Australia and we should be very proud if they are.
The album, Feelings, saw MC taking a more personal approach to songwriting. This wasn’t the only distinct change. Mike Morgan, came on board for the album, as not only the producer, but also an additional guitarist. This has seen the sound become more fleshed out and it’s something that MC has been really excited to play live with.
“I wrote all these songs that were a bit more involved than any of our old stuff. We went into the studio when we recorded Feelings, and we didn’t want to have any barriers of how we’re going to replicate this live.
“So, I got quite guitary on it first the first time – you know, because I taught myself how to play guitar, to be in Bloods – I feel a bit more confident as a player so I was a bit more free when it came to songwriting and writing guitar lines and we just layered them in the studio.
“It wasn’t until we finished the record that we were like ‘Shit, we’re going to have to do this live. What are we going to do!’
“We were fortunate enough to have Mikey, who is the new permanent member of the band, come on board. I really love this new richer sound, so I think that’s definitely the direction we want to take it and it makes so much sense too, because we have a new member who can shred!” MC exclaimed.
Unfortunately, having gained one member, the group lose their founding bassist, Victoria ‘Sweetie’ Zamora, who just played her last show with the group on their three-date launch tour.
With Sweetie’s move to Melbourne being a permanent thing – “She’s fallen in love with the bloody city and she’s not coming back!”, complained MC – the group changes again. In comes former fill-in bassist, Rosa Morgan, who unlike MC and drummer Dirk Jonker, did not learn her instrument to be a part of the group. She has played with luminaries like Peter Garrett and Mark Lanegan, along with a solo project, Red Ghost.
“She’s incredible. She’s probably the most accomplished musician I’ve ever played with!”, effused MC. “She’s one of those horrible people who can just sit down at any instrument and bloody play it perfectly!”
As a mother of a young girl herself (who you can hear on the album as well!), MC and the band were recently very excited to be a part of the great initiative that is Girls Rock! The organisation, born from Portland, aims to inspire girls, trans and non-binary youth through music education and performance.
Celebrating five years since their debut EP, Bloods invited four members of the Girls Rock! Camp to re-record their track, No Fun.
“I love Girls Rock! and I’ve been following them on socials and I think that it’s such a great initiative that I wish that something like that existed when I was a kid.
“It just came up that maybe it would be a cool thing to partner up with them to raise awareness about the cool Girl Rock! thing and also giving these young women an opportunity to come in and be part of a recording and a song that’s going to be released!
“None of them had ever recorded in a studio before and it’s just the most inspiring experience being in there with them.”, MC excitedly said, “It was so much fun!”
With a new shape, a new sound and a new album, the world is once again at the feet of Bloods and 2019 looks to be an exciting year for the much-loved group.
When I ask about the next set of Australian shows, MC replies, “We’ve just written a bunch of new songs, so hopefully it won’t be too long!”.
It seems that we won’t be waiting four years for the next release from Bloods and that’s a very exciting thing from a very exciting band.