Interview with Blue Eyed Jesus
by Dawn Casey Perreault
Photo by Dan Luedert
I am an advocate of bands taking the bull by the horns when it comes to promoting themselves. It’s great to have outside help, but ultimately, if you’re too lazy to promote yourself, why would anyone take the time to seek you out? Let’s admit it, the face of music has changed dramatically and if you’re sitting around waiting to be discovered by some record company mogul I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath. I saw a show post for Blue Eyed Jesus on a facebook group page, I don’t remember which one, because I was seeing Michael Dobervich’s posts on pretty much all of them that I am a part of. I had the nagging feeling like I had heard of this band before and the description “alternative” popped into my head. I have to admit I am sometimes on the fence about alternative music. Not that I don’t like it, I actually love most of it out there, but I have to be in a specific kind of mood for a lot of it. I like high energy music, I admit I am a bit antsy most of the time and tend to hit the ground running so I like the music I listen too to keep up with me. But this Michael guy was a dedicated poster of his stuff and I have great respect for that, and if he was willing to take the time to post, I would take the time to listen, so I remember sitting down and clicking on the link, because Michael wasn’t just posting about upcoming shows, he was putting the music out there. Kudos to him for that, posting your songs on pages that are often primarily made up of other musicians takes guts and extreme belief that you have something good to offer, because you just know the other guys will be dissecting your work. I halfway expected the songs to be good, but possibly make my eyes glaze over halfway through (my preconceived notion that some alternative music is slow and best listened too after consuming a gallon of wine, among other things). My eyes stayed open and so did my ears. Its been about a year since I first discovered BEJ and I still like listening to their songs and no, I didn’t fall into a coma after a few riffs. Quite the opposite, because these guys have a fantastic happy energy to their music, very similar to the Ramones at times or with a quirky edge that puts me in mind of early Cure, and on some of the songs, the vocals have the sarcastic melancholy style of Paul Westerberg. These would all be alternative bands that I really dig all rolled up into one.
RIC: When did Blue Eyed Jesus come together and how?
BEJ: Mike and I (Steve) played together in a bi-lingual rock en Español band of all things! Actually, that wasn’t the original intention of the band. It just kind of ended up that way. Edgar!! Anyhoo, we were introduced by the drummer (Josh Gelles) of that band. We decided we probably should just stick with the rock en Ingles Americana thing. We found Zafar (drummer) through a band listings ad. The Famed and Wonderfully Legendary Craigslist, I believe.
RIC: Are all the current members original members or have there been any personnel changes that took place along the way and if so, did it help develop the band to how it sounds today?
BEJ: Officially, yes. We did try out a second guitarist, as the original concept was a 4-piece. We decided that we should just keep it simple and Rockoliscious. Hence, the
3-piece. So, a lot of the concept of writing is geared toward the 3-piece ensemble.
RIC: Who has influenced you musically?
Steve: Honestly, the list is WAY too long. So, we’ll be brief. Here are SOME highlights (in pseudo-chronological order): Big Bang and the Universe, The Multi-Celled Organisms, Air-Breathers, The Terrible Lizards, The Mammals, Homo sapiens sapiens, The Hebrews, The Romans, The Christians, The Muslims, Celts, Gauls, Mayans, Anasazi, Iroquois, Various Europeans, Africans and Asians, Various gypsies and world artisans, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Huddy Ledbetter, Les Paul, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, The Stones, The Who, Cream, Neil Young, Santana, Deep Purple, Donovan, Floyd, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Iggy and Los Stooges, Bowie, Mahavishnu Orch, King Crimson, T-Rex, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Rush, Thin Lizzy, Judas, UFO, The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, the B-52’s, Elvis Costello, Iron Maiden, Rhoads-era Ozzy, The Pretenders, The Clash, U2, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Metallica (pre-black album), Joy Division, The Effigies, Jane’s Addiction, The Jesus Lizard, Mudhoney, Nirvana …OK I’m exhausted. This doesn’t even cover half of it…I’m sure Mike and Zafar have a lot overlapping, plus more, of course.
Mike: Bass-wise: John Entwhistle , Benjamin Orr , Sting, Geezer Butler, John Paul Jones, Peter Hook, Phil Lesh, etc. Old motown and Jazz Bassists
Zafar: Drummer-wise: Dave Grohl, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Bill Ward and Animal.
RIC: How do the songs come together? Who are the writers in the band?
BEJ: Steve has a catalog of songs from which we work. Mike and Steve write together as well. Zafar is great at flushing out ideas and giving new perspectives. So we come to the space with or send via email ideas, then we put them in a pot with water and a single stone, a potato and some carrots, stir, and enjoy.
RIC: When did you first realize you wanted to create music?
Steve: I had a dream, when I was about 10: I was at a family party. There was a guitar in the center room with a spotlight on it. I kept staring at it and family members would come up to me and tell me to play it. I finally went up to the instrument. But, I couldn’t play it! Ugh. Wake up. So, I then kept having this desire to play for a while after that. About a year later, I just started to play. The B52’s , “Rock Lobster”, was my first ever riff. I Started playing in bands in Jr. High.
Mike: When I saw all the Punk and Metal shows in the Early 90’s
Zafar: I was sitting behind my friends drum kit at a party in high school. This really cute girl came up said she loved drummers. We made out. I was hooked. I said. Yep, this is for me.
RIC: Describe your style to someone who has never heard the band.
BEJ:Well, we’re all the sum of our influences so here goes:
Edgy-poppy-garage-gipsyglam-arena-proto-prog-punks we are. That sounds great if you read it in Yoda’s voice. Tribal council rhythm section, tube amps, layered, hook-filled guitars with guitar solos straight from the mouth of Godzilla. All done with geo-politically charged, thought-provoking lyrics, of course.
RIC: What was your most memorable gig and why?
Steve: For me, Steve, it was our first show at Penny Road Pub in the main Room. Why? Because, we had finally gotten over all the painful external forces (serious life issues and injuries, spare you details) and were able to just PLAY. We rocked and had sheetloads of fun. Our shows have been pretty consistently Fantastic ever since. Even if we have 2 people in the, uh, crowd, we give our all to you!
Mike: Sub T When we Un plugged all our cords by crashing into each other and couldn’t do an encore!
Steve: That was awesome.
Zafar: The show when my girlfriend (at the time) showed up with her girlfriend. Other than that, what they said.
Steve and Mike: That was awesome too.
RIC: What can someone expect from a Blue Eyed Jesus live show?
BEJ: Three guys who absolutely dig The Rock and Roll, and bring it to you via big hooks, wicked chops, tube amps and chest-pounding drums. You’ll tap your foot. You’ll bob your head. You’ll pump your fist. You’ll kick like a Rockette on Christmas morning. The infection will take you over. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll wet your pants.
RIC: What makes Blue Eyed Jesus tick?
BEJ: The doctors are still trying to figure that out.
Lets hope the doctors never figure it out , because then they might try to cure them, and we wouldn’t want them to change a thing.
Blue Eyed Jesus will be performing Saturday 9/22 at Cairo Bar in West Chicago for an Autism Benefit with Lucky Boys Confusion.
Blue Eyed Jesus is also featured on the September 2012 Podcast