Profile: Cold Blood Club
Recently, I was lucky enough to sit down with a few members of the band Cold Blood Club, guitarist and songwriter, Tom Stuart, singer, Brad Peterson, violinist, Hilary Davis, and singer Kendra Jones. The interview took place before the video premier for their latest single, ‘Goodbye to All That’ and a subsequent amazing performance. The conversation traveled from their current evolving sound, to Tom Stuart’s ability to write for others, to selling out, and how you keep seven people with day jobs on track and on the same page in New York.
Cold Blood Club began as a something of a studio project, but has since grown into a seven piece band and the sound of ‘Goodbye to All That’ reflects the privilege of the gifted musicians that self proclaimed “benevolent dictator” Tom Stuart has at his disposal. When asked about perhaps a move away from synth…
Tom: We still play very synth heavy. We still write centered around rhythms and beats. We still mix and match tones with the rhythm section. There’s a DNA to it that’s still faithful to the beginning. The difference being that we’ve grown into a bigger band and we’re writing for everyone’s parts. It’s about whatever tools we have in our tool kit now.
Brad: Plus now we can jam.
While the sound and scope of Cold Blood Club is expanding, Stuart is still handling the song writing. I asked him about writing from other’s perspectives…
Tom: I would never try to suggest that I was writing from anyone’s perspective. What I think of it is you’re almost like a screenwriter. So my feeling is like, can I write a song that one of the other singers can deliver? It’s not really that different than starting off with a demo that I’ll work on at home and saying do I think this is a drum part that Shin is going to kick ass at or am I leaving enough space for Jesse to kill the baseline or is there enough room on the high end, can Hilary transpose this keyboard line to her violin? It’s really not that different.
Brad: What’s amazing to me is when Tom writes a song for me it’s like the perfect range that I can sing in which is pretty cool. It’s almost like an intimate thing. It’s like, I know what you can do and I’m not going to make you stretch it.
Another fascinating fact about the band is that prior to its inception singer, Kendra Jones was not a singer at all…
Kendra: When Tom started writing songs for me he would tell me that I could sing them and I didn’t think that I could so I had to roll into being able to hit those notes because this is my first time doing the whole being in a band shit. I was no kind of artist before this. I didn’t believe that I could sing half the shit he wrote for me. He basically had to hold my hand and coach me through recognizing how far my voice could go I’m still progressing and learning.
Hilary: And kicking ass!
Brad: We were recording a song a couple of weeks ago at Converse Rubber Tracks and we we’re all sitting in the control room listening to Kendra sing a pure vocal part and we were all just like, Oh my god. I’ve heard her go in just the last two years go from being the shy little thing in Tom’s old apartment to like, she’s a powerhouse and it sounds like a sound bite or something, but it’s true.
Hilary: Honestly, that moment, when we were at Converse… I mean, there are seven of us, but there were many points during the day where we were all hanging out listening to one of us. This was a song we’ve played for a year and a half, we all know each other’s parts, but we were all really into it and cheering each other on. That was a really awesome moment.
Any New Yorker will tell you how hard it is to get together with your friends. Now, imagine you have six friends, they live on different islands, and when you get together you have to accomplish a goal. This is just a part of CBC’s existence.
Hillary: You have to understand in New York you don’t see your best friend, but once every couple of weeks. So, to consistently see a group of people every week and go through all of these intense experiences, shows and recording together, it’s a really strong bond that we have.
Brad: I don’t see people I like as often as these people.
The time constraints placed on the band is due in part to their current employment status…
Tom: We’re in that nebulous faze of you guys are a reputable band, but you need to pay the rent.
Hilary is a freelance Art Director, Tom is a UX manager, Brad is a graphic designer and illustrator, and Kendra is a copywriter. In fact, every member of Cold Blood Club still maintains a day job and are in some way affiliated with the advertising industry. Therefore, the concept of selling out is not something that concerns the band.
Tom: You want to talk about morals and scruples? All we’re doing is selling shit all the time. To paraphrase Lethal Weapon, I’m too old for that shit man.
Cold Blood Club doesn’t concern themselves with labels such as “sellout”. Instead they use their professional expertise to their advantage. Hilary does the design and packaging and the band becomes its own creative team…
Hillary: We’re promoting this idea that we believe in.
Tom: You need to have a lot of work ethic and humility. We’re fortunate enough that we have people in the band that have the ability to write copy or produce images for us (pointing around the room). Or like Shin, our drummer, and I are both engineers so we can help co-produce our own records so that you don’t feel afraid when the major label executives show up and they’re like, ‘it’s magic’. No what’s the bass sound? Are you going to gate the toms or not? We can call bullshit.
In regards to their new album, which will be called Tear Down The Maps, Tom referred to it as a transitional album…
Tom: I think almost every song on the record is about a decision and ‘Goodbye to All That’ is like the canary in the cave.
Hopefully, Cold Blood Club’s new album and amazing live shows will transition them into everyone’s zeitgeist and out of their day jobs…
Kendra: I don’t want to be rolling down the street in a Bentley sipping Cristal. I just want to make music and do shows and… play an arena, you know that’s all.