By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Minneapolis punk-metal duo Bloodnstuff only seems to have come out of nowhere. In recent months, the duo's grungy, breakneck performances have made them one of the area's most talked-about live acts, yet they haven't released a single recorded song anywhere other than MySpace. In reality, Bloodnstuff has been 10 years in the making.
"Every band we've been in has been considered a reincarnation of the previous band," drummer Dylan Gouert says, sitting on the patio at CC Club with his bandmate, Ed Holmberg. It's a sunny Saturday afternoon, and his bright blue eyes squint from the light that shines through under the umbrella. "Every time we start over, it's because we lose someone and don't replace them. Eventually it got whittled down to a two-piece band."
"This band is kind of an experiment," says Holmberg, who plays guitar and sings lead vocals. His hair is buzzed short on one side, which you can see even under his corduroy cap, and a series of bright tattoos sticks out on his arms from under his rolled-up shirt sleeves. "We've always experimented with stuff, but this one has gone in a different direction: We're trying to be a big, poppy rock band with just two people instead of trying to be weird." He chuckles to himself momentarily, taking a drink of his coffee. "Because of our background," he adds, "it's actually weirder to play the stuff we're playing now than to just write weird stuff."
play an album-release show with Marijuana Deathsquads and Stnnng on Friday, April 6,
at Triple Rock Social Club; 612.333.7399
Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Bloodnstuff's oversized sound is that it comes from only two people, yet there's hardly any wasted space. Holmberg's fire-and-brimstone riffing and cavernous hollers are drenched in Master of Reality-era Sabbath, and Gouert's drums sound like Neil Peart with a single kit, but never excessive. Small wonder, then, that the two started playing in bands together when they were still in high school, and have only ever played in bands with each other since. Chemistry like this takes time.
"If it were just me, I'd probably be meandery and goofy," Holmberg says about his songwriting. "[Gouert] knows the weird ways I write stuff. Often I'll come to practice with a grasp on the timing of a riff, and he helps me figure it out and make it listenable."
"I'll push him to play faster," Gouert adds, sweeping his long, wavy hair across his forehead. "A lot of times he'll come to the studio and he'll say, 'I can't play this any faster.' So I tell him, 'Yeah, you can,' and he comes back the next time and plays it at the fucking speed of light," he chuckles proudly, folding his arms tightly inside his jean jacket.
The pair worked on their new songs for over a year before ever playing live. "Yeah," Homberg says, "we're perfectionists about everything." He flicks an ash from his cigarette into the ashtray on the table. "We'll practice a song, and once it's done, we'll play it at least 30 more times. We'll play it a hell of a lot before we ever play it live, even if the first time is the same as the 50th. We want to make sure we're solid on every little part, so none of it bugs us."
Their original plan had been to release an album before they even started playing live gigs, but those early recordings got scrapped. "We wrote three more songs within a week [of recording] that wound up being some of the best of this album. You can't have the best songs not be on the album," Holmberg says with a shrug. Gouert is even more emphatic: "We need that," he insists, dismissing the notion that their attention to detail might prevent them from making faster progress. "If we were willing to settle, we would've put out the first version of the album. If we didn't toss out half the songs we write, we'd put out shitty songs — we've probably written 20 songs and only played 10 of them."
To that end, there's about half an album's worth of new Bloodnstuff material already partially written out, but it's very much on the back burner. "That's something you have to get used to when you're in a band," Gouert says. "You write a set of music and you have to play it over and over and over again for a long time.... Sometimes that gets boring, but sometimes it feels fresh because you're in the right mood. Us, we're not really done with a song until we're sick of it."
Based on the buzz Bloodnstuff have built up simply on the strength of their live shows, it's hard to argue with Holmberg and Gouert's approach. "We have had entire families show up at shows. I've never been in a band like that before," Holmberg enthuses. He throws his hands out to his sides, as if searching for the right words. "I had imagined only musician-rock dudes would like us for the sound we get, but luckily we've gotten past that. It's tough to be in a band that only plays for other musicians."