Blonds weave a distinct, nostalgic kind of indie-pop, laden with 60s-tinged rock ‘n’ roll and glamorous vocal refrains. Their dangerous and extravagant debut The Bad Ones is out now on Gluck, featuring slivers of winking recklessness and a beefy dose of dusty Americana – a potent combo which paints enamoured duo Cari Rae and Jordy Asher as Bonnie and Clyde-era outlaws, running to the beautiful unknown rather than from the police.
Suffice it to say, The Bad Ones is a cracking record. I catch up with the pair as they ride high on the success of their first LP: “Sean Connery is James Bond,” they state firmly. “Who isn’t a fan of 007? Bond is everyone’s fantasy in one way or another.” With the advent of the Skyfall trailer and the iconic agent visiting Her Majesty at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Bond has returned to the limelight once more and Blonds’ electric cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ could fit right at home on the soundtrack to one of the classic films. In a way that the á la mode pin-up Del Rey can’t, Blonds use expansive, moody guitar and luxurious string passages to inject brazen emotions, savouring substance over style.
When quizzed on the blueprints for their pop-noir sound, Rae and Asher explain: “The album is largely autobiographical, and who we are as people was a big part of where we took the sound of the album.”
I ask them how they went about sculpting The Bad Ones, “We wrote and recorded most of the album while we were still in South Florida. When Nicolas [Vernhes, producer] heard the songs, he was excited at how the songs were in such ‘good shape’, in his words. Most of the foundation was already laid.”
In between the writing process, they relocated to New York from their home in the Sunshine State, seeking “Opportunity, Curiosity and Love.” This upheaval to the musically rich Brooklyn has proved a worthwhile decision for Blonds. “It’s had an intense impact on the band, the vibes in NYC couldn’t be more different from those of South Florida. Living in Florida takes a lot of patience. It’s a big waiting room in a lot of ways, especially for driven musicians. New York is basically the exact opposite.” Eventually they made the move and took time to revisit the music they already had. “When we came to New York, we re-did guitars on proper amps and vocals through proper mics. Some of the sounds on the album are literally recordings from a phone. We spent a couple of weeks in the studio with Nicolas, which was a dream, and The Bad Ones was the result.”
And what a phenomenal result it is. It’s odd that the two defiantly state that “Kanye West,” is their biggest influence, considering the diverse sounds in their music – though given the enormous confidence in songs like ‘Time’ and ‘Run’, maybe it’s not that strange. There are moments of bluesy genius and country-western showmanship dotted all over the record amongst the dreamy indie-pop. Though, they wouldn’t technically call what they do country. “The blues is something that sort of runs through Jordy’s blood as a songwriter, and it comes out in different ways. NYC doesn’t really have anyone doing what we’re doing here, so it made the most sense.”
Considering it was the first time they’ve crafted a full-length together before, I ask them if it what they expected from the journey. “No, not really. We didn’t know what to expect. We figured the songs might all turn out completely different and that recording would be ‘work’. None of that was truly the case. The songs definitely changed, but at the core, Nicolas thought we had great stuff and just wanted to make everything sound great and add or take away things here and there. It was in no way work, everyday in the studio was like a vacation with some awesome people.”
As an already established group, overlooking the comparisons to the band Blondes seems unlikely. I mention that they must have realised the similarities when they picked their moniker. “We didn’t realise there was another band ‘Blondes’ until after we had picked our band name, we found out during an interview similar to this one. We chose ‘Blonds’ because it was the first thing we thought of and it fit perfectly with everything we were trying to visually and audibly connect.”
One intriguing dynamic in Blonds is that Cari and Jordy are in a relationship. Writing songs with a partner without stepping on their toes is tough I imagine, due to the two separate relationships at play – the romantic and the professional. “It’s definitely different, but the songs on the album are the result, so I’d say two great minds gives us an advantage. Jordy writes and produces most of the songs, with Cari’s input, so it’s a very smooth process. It’s pretty seamless, honestly. It’s the most fun part of our job.”
After the glowing feedback surrounding The Bad Ones, the only way is up for the Big Apple-based band. Speaking about the future, the twosome predict copious amounts of touring. “We take the live show to a much more ethereal and atmospheric place than on the album. Psychedelic at times, but extremely powerful. Overall, fans can expect to lose themselves when they come to a live set.” Wrapping up, Blonds tell of their current success.“Right now we’re just riding a big wave. The distant horizon is pretty hard to see, but we’re loving the ride and loving creating and playing music.”
The Bad Ones is out now on Gluck.