Blindside has a clear vision
By Dave Schwartz
Photos courtesy Elektra Records and Blindside 

Sonically twisting, aurally tantalizing.  That is the best way to describe Stockholm, Sweden's Blindside.  And their new album, "Silence," is anything but. Admittedly, Stockholm is not the first place that you would expect to find a budding hard-core music scene, but that wasn't about to slow down Marcus Dahlström (drums), Simon Grenehed (guitar), Christian Lindskog (vocals) and Tomas Naslund (bass).  For those of us in America, Sweden seems like a million miles away both physically and culturally, but music has a way of transcending boundaries.

I caught up with Grenehed and Lindskog several weeks back as they were hanging out in Los Angeles, California, and putting the finishing touches on the video for their first single, "Pitiful."  They were in high spirits and reminiscent of the road that brought them here.

Blindside released two previous albums on indie labels but have never been in a situation where they could concentrate on their music full time.  In between tours, the band members found themselves working construction to help make ends meet.

"The album went very well," Lindskog began.  "We had a great relationship with our producer, Howard Benson (Motorhead, P.O.D., Sepultura).  We clicked from the start and we agreed on most things about our music and how we wanted to do this record.  It went really smooth and we had a great time in the studio.  This is the first time we were able to do this full time.  We came from Sweden, where we worked in construction, and it's such a cool thing to go in and like we had a month of pre-production."

Lindskog continued, "It was nice to be able to sit all day and work on our music.  And also when you don't have a lot of friends around you actually can focus on it!"

I guess in some ways there are less distractions in L.A.!  I asked about the new video, hoping for a hint of what we can expect when it goes into rotation on MTV2.

"We worked with a guy named Nathan 'Karma' Cox.  We basically got a couple of different treatments and what we wanted to express in this video was, first of all, to present the band to a new audience," Grenehed shared.  "And also to get people to see what kind of band we are live.  The whole idea of the video is us playing in a room that's moving around, it's rotating. Basically it has a lot of our performance in it.  We wanted to capture the emotion and energy from our live shows.  We actually just saw the rough cut of it and I think it's a good representation of the band."

Touring America on the strength of their indie releases allowed Blindside to build a foundation of dedicated fans, but never allowed them to break a video and thus have the ability to reach out to an MTV audience.  As Grenehed hinted, signing with a major record label is a significant step that should allow them a broader fan base.  With that in mind, I asked Lindskog and Grenehed to describe their music.

"That's a difficult question to answer," Lindskog replied.  "We are rock with elements of, well, we came from the hard-core scene."

On first listen to Blindside's new album, I was impressed with just how "American" it sounded.  More so than much of what I have heard coming out of Europe. Their sound is a perfect fit for a North American audience and a testimonial to music's ability to unite us all.  I was curious of their influences and how they were received by the music culture in their homeland.

Lindskog explained, "The thing is that we haven't really ever been part of a scene over there because we just released two independent records in the states.  They did fairly well.  And we've been touring pretty much in the States actually."

"We had some exposure from the last album.  We were on national TV and did a video," Grenehed added.

"But aside from that, we have toured mostly in the States," Lindskog continued.  "We have more in common with American music I think.  You really can't tour in Sweden and it's really hard to get that exposure.  I think that's why we concentrated on a place where we can go out and show people what we are doing."

"We had better distribution here in the States than we did in Sweden.  A lot more people had our record so it was better for us to just come over here and tour," Grenehed went on. "Stockholm itself and Sweden, in general, has a really good scene with music.  There are a lot of bands.  Actually I think Sweden is the third biggest exporter of music in the world.  There are so many great bands and all different genres as well."

Blindside's music has a positive message to it which is in contrast to much of the other aggressive music happening today.  I use the term aggressive more in the context of the music. Whereas, the music often is the passion of a song, the lyric is the intellect.  I asked about the message found in much of today's music.

"We try to be a positive band," Lindskog explained.  "We try to have a positive message and we can talk about like, well, like any human beings, we go through rough times.  We write about that too, but there is always a glimpse of hope there.  There is always a light in the tunnel so to speak and all together we try to have an undertone of hope.  And I think you can see that in us live as well.  There is a positive energy all the time between us and the crowd."

"Just because we play energetic music, it doesn't have to be aggressive, like angry," Grenehed added.  "It can have a very positive energy too.  We try to inspire people to live, rather than to kill themselves."

For Blindside the hard work has begun to pay off.  In late July they found themselves in an enviable position.  Their first single, "Pitiful," roared out of the box as the number one most added song on rock and alternative radio. And for those of you with MTV2, you probably already caught the world premiere of the new video.  But this good fortune hasn't tainted them.

"When it comes to music, we just try to follow our hearts and this is what came out," Lindskog confessed.

And most importantly, they remember where they came from.

"The last day we worked in construction, we took pictures of the construction site to bring with us," Grenehed shared.  "Whenever we feel like we're tired of all this, we just bring the pictures out and remember."

What's ahead for Blindside?

"In August, we will be touring with Project 86 for a month and then we will be going out with P.O.D. in November," Lindskog said.  "The rest of the year will be a lot of touring."

For the moment, Blindside's course seems charted.  And in a business where few things are certain, this band understands the possibilities and remembers the past-- key elements in understanding exactly where they are today.  "Silence" hits the record stores August 20th, but I suspect you'll be hearing them on the radio long before that date.

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