BLOOD TRANSFUSION Bloodkin

Recovered and ready to
rock, the Athens-based cult band rises again.

 

By AARON KAYCE

 

Bloodkin is back from the dead with Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again (SCI Fidelity). The core duo
of the Athens, GA rock band-Daniel Hutchens (vocals/guitar)
and Eric Carter (guitar)-have been playing together since they were
eight-years-old. They did everything together, including lots of heavy drugs. In
1994 they released their debut album, Good
Luck Charm
and fellow Athens
band Widespread Panic covered a few of Hutchens’ and Carter’s ace songs (like
“Can’t Get High,” from Panic’s Ain’t Life
Grand
). The band released six more albums, toiling in obscurity despite
critical acclaim and a devoted fan base. But in 2005-reeling from years of abuse
and unsure they’d recover-Bloodkin recorded what appeared to be their swan
song, Last Night Out. But a funny
thing happened: they got sober. Now in their forties, Hutchens and Carter have
put the band and their lives back together and they’ve created their best album
to date. With a new wife, two kids and a fresh lease on his career, Danny
Hutchens gives Blurt the inside info
on Bloodkin’s triumphant return.    

 

 

***

 

What can you tell me
about the title, Baby, They Told Us We
Would Rise Again
, I realize the line shows up in [the album’s second song] “Easter
Eggs,” but what led to you naming the album this?

 

“Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again” was the very first line I wrote for this
whole record, outside the song “Wait Forever,” which is the one old tune we resurrected from about 15 years back. That
title had been in my head for a little while, it was more a mood than anything,
before it actually became the song “Easter Eggs,” and then became kind of the theme for this whole record. I was just remembering
back to a lot of the old times, some good and some bad, some of the people I’ve
known through the years who have either died or just drifted away somewhere and
I’ve lost track of them. But I just had this incredibly powerful feeling of
still being connected to those people; still loving them as much as I ever did.
I felt pretty strongly in the idea that time is an illusion, or at least not a
fixed entity, but pretty flexible. I knew I’d be meeting up with those folks
again – old buddies, old girlfriends, old soul mates.

 

 

What can you tell me
about the inspiration for [the first song on the album] “The Viper”?

 

“The Viper” is a
composite of myself and Eric Carter, what complete debris our lives had become
due to our addictions, pains, losses, all that. He and I bottomed out at
slightly different times, but we both wound up in really dark places with very
little hope. “The Viper” is a
portrait of that dark place, which serves as a preface for the salvation described
later in the record.

 

 

Do all Bloodkin songs
tell a story or are some just vehicles to let the instruments talk?

 

The backbone of the
Bloodkin sound is definitely electric guitar, as originally defined by Eric
Carter and the interplay between Eric and myself, and that’s now filled out by this
whole current band. But I don’t think any Bloodkin song has ever-at least in my
mind-been just a vehicle for jamming or anything like that. To me, the songs
are always the meat and potatoes. Great musicians without great songs are like
empty calories, junk food.

 

 

On your MySpace
journal you talk about music being your church, where do the worlds of religion
or spirituality and music intersect for you?

 

That is kind of how I think of music. I mean the really good
stuff, it is kind of vibrating on you in that sense. I guess it’s what I would
call spirituality. I’m not trying to sound pretentious and other people might
call it something completely different, but to me it’s not just a mathematical
arrangement of notes or how fast you can play or something like that. When it
really reaches you and shakes you, it really is a real direct kind of, what I
think of as a spiritual experience. To me it is my version of church and any
time that I’ve ever been in a proper church, I just never have felt that. I
mean that’s just me, you know, and everybody finds it probably in different
places.

 

 

What happened between
2005’s Last Night Out and 2009’s Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again?

 

My personal rock
bottom came after the death of our manager and great friend Zac Weil, and I
entered into a kind of slow suicide until I was thrown a line by blind luck,
fate, my new wife Kristy. But my rock bottom happened during the recording of Last
Night Out
. I assumed it was the last time I’d ever be in a recording studio.
I was ready to die, not disturbed by that notion at all. Just slamming as much
cocaine and liquor into my system as I could, every day, waiting for my heart
to explode.

 

Meanwhile, Eric’s form of self-destruction had been much slower and longer
with sad, terrible stories stretching all the way back to the late-80s. He
would have peaks and valleys along the way, but it was all part of a larger
downward spiral. There were some years toward the end there where I felt like I
was holding my breath most of the time, waiting for the phone call to bring me
the bad news about Eric, or even just looking over at him while he nodded-out
onstage, and just not knowing what the fuck to do. He was going to die and I
didn’t know how to stop it.

 

I tried and tried to talk/argue/plead with him about it at different
points over the years, but he would never listen, until right at the end when
he had lost everything else in the world, his job, his girlfriend, etc., and
had literally nothing left but the band. He finally saw that at the end of the
day we were the ones who really cared and really stuck by him. But he saw in
those final months that he was about to lose us too, either through his own
death, or the absolute final break-up of the band because he had become completely
non-functional; couldn’t eat or speak coherently, could barely walk half the
time, let alone play much guitar. I already missed him. He was already gone. And
nowadays it’s like a fucking miracle, because I suddenly have my best friend
back.

 

 

Can you try to put Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again in perspective, where does it take the
conversation from Last Night Out?

 

I remember years
back reading an article about the novel A Clockwork Orange by Anthony
Burgess. In the original novel, there’s
a last chapter where Alex, the violent teenager who’s the central character, has actually matured,
gotten older, given up his violent ways. In the big hit movie-great as it was,
Stanley Kubrick and all-the last chapter
has been omitted completely. And the point of the article I read was that, if there’s no change
taking place at all, what’s the point of telling the story? Or, it’s not truly a novel if the leading
character doesn’t achieve
some kind of transformation or enlightenment.

 

I guess it’s a debatable point, but Baby… is our chapter of
transformation. It’s kind of a vindication, kind of a realization of some hopes
and dreams. Our songs
were never about wanting to be lonesome and fucked up sitting in a bar somewhere, that was just honestly the
situation we found ourselves
in, and we were telling the story without flinching. But there were always those distant
glimmers of hope for at least some moments
of peace on the horizon. And I think this new record actually documents our growing up a little
bit.

 

 

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