Interview: Who are The Blue Light Bandits?

BLB at Bristol - Badluk_Goodvibes
Photo Credit: Isaac Bates

Concert Crap: Give our readers a little background: how did this group get started?

Dan DeCristofaro: BLB began with Ethan (Bass, Vocals) and I as a musical experiment (jam session) in high school. Once life graciously crossed our paths with Mike (Drums, Guitar) and then Ricky (Guitar, Vocals), the music started to get serious. All of us had studied music formally in some capacity whether it was jazz, classical, or blues and together we started to explore modern combinations of these genres. We started to get weekly gigs together and meet once a week on Tuesdays to practice. We would sit in a circle with our amps cranked up and someone would start to play an idea they had until all of us joined in and blew up the basement together. Tuesday’s were blissful and luckily they still are.

CC: How did you go about deciding what kind of music you’d put out?

DC: We have always combined what we know and love with what feels fresh and funky. Individually, we have our preferred genres and unique stylistic abilities. Over time, we discovered our favorite way to blend them all together. We are all crazy for music and our enthusiasm for “the best new music out there” is the core of our relationships with each other. If one of us hears something wonderful, we immediately send it in a text to the rest of the group. When Tuesday comes along, we get together and try to recreate these sonic spaces and explore different ideas around them. This practice has been the foundation of our ability to understand the kind of music we love and what we want to play. When music feels good we play it, and our decision making doesn’t extend too much beyond that.

CC: You guys are like 2 bands in 1: on the one hand, you have your original music and on the other, you’re a cover band. Why?

DC: Writing music and performing your own original work is incredible and rewarding. Recording those songs and making albums costs a lot of money. When we first started out, we performed for free at showcase events and begged our friends and family to come pay $10 to see us play the midnight slot at a grungy rock club in the city. Then, we found a new type of gig. The kind where you could make $300 for playing 3 hours of songs people know in the corner of a bar and these gigs were far more plentiful. By playing these gigs, too, we were able to make a decent chunk of change individually and put some away for the band to fund our creative projects and record releases. At the beginning, it was hard to get excited about playing so many covers and, on occasion, it was frustratingly boring for me. Then, we began to rearrange the songs creatively in a way that reflected our original taste and how we loved to play. This was very important because 1) it kept it fun 2) it made us stand out (and pretty much removed us from the realm of standard “cover bands”) and 3) it naturally led people to our original music. So, to answer your question, we found a formula through balancing both kinds of shows that has kept things moving forward comfortably. We would love to go on tour and just play through our albums, but the local demand for cover bands in night clubs and the exposure/resources you get from these kinds of shows has been huge for our overall growth and development.

CC: Which do you like better: performing your original music or covers?

DC: As I mentioned above, the way we approach covers is parallel to the music we write and we always try to catch people off guard. We REALLY enjoy the look on peoples faces when they finally realize what song we are playing and we can share a smile with them. Also, the constant variety in our show schedule between original performances and cover gigs is dynamic and keeps us all fresh and on our toes. But, yes…when it comes to playing original music, there is no better feeling. Performing your own songs to an accepting crowd as they sing, dance, and feel funky with you is unreal.

CC: Right now, you pretty much perform locally in New England. Where do you hope to perform in the future?

DC: We want to play all over the world. We have a good thing here right now, but we hope to get the opportunity to go on tour with a national act and jumpstart our touring career sometime soon.

CC: Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks?

DC: BLB runs on Dunkin’.

CC: The four of you in a gladiator fight: who wins?

DC: We posted this question to our friends on Facebook and here are some of the answers we received:

1) If Mike Braz has his power beard, its game over for y’all…sorry

2) A stank-faced cello-bow-wielding Ethan would def dominate

3) Yeah dude, Dan. One word: Rugby.

Personally, I do have to agree with number 3 because I played rugby in college, I am the biggest, and because I am writing the response to this right now 🙂

All questions answered by Dan DeCristofaro – vocals, keyboard, and rhythm guitar.

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Post and interview by Karen Shalev

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