Blackbird Raum: Encouraging Weirdness, Even on MTV
Recently, Blackbird Raum went where no folk-punk band has gone before -- to MTV.
Photos courtesy of Blackbird Raum Blackbird Raum
MTV Iggy, to be exact. The Santa Cruz, Calif. anarcho-folk outfit, now ten years into their run as a band, was recently featured on the Web site, which focuses on "cutting-edge global music."
Lest anyone think they've traded in their DIY ethic for the bubbleheaded superstardom of the Snookis of the world, a few of the band's members sought to ease worried minds in advance of their show tonight at East Side Social Center.
"Bands are a big part of peoples' identities and nobody likes to feel like their special thing is being given away to the lamers of the world," says CPN, the band's banjo player/vocalist. "I'm not offended when people feel like they have to stop liking us because we're 'popular.' It does mystify me, though, especially since we regularly play shows to less than 30 people. They should wait until we actually sell out to call us sell outs."
Whether larger fame and fortune comes calling, don't expect Blackbird Raum to change its long-running narrative. In albums like Swidden, Under the Starling Host and, most recently, False Weavers, the band has focused heavily on environmental, political and social issues.
"Who we are and what we think about comes out in our music, and I value being genuine, so I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't ignore these things I know about," says Mars, the band's lone female, who plays mandolin and whose haunting voice accentuates some fan favorites.
"I can't pretend I don't know how many millions of people are in prison," she continues. "I can't pretend I don't know what's happening to the water and land that sustains us all. I can distract myself, or integrate the reality of what is into my being and my life."
"The earth is being destroyed for profit," adds CPN. It's something that doesn't go away just because you already know that it's true or that you said it before. It's sort of perennial that way, like love songs."
One thing the band is excited about is how many new listeners are catching on to anarcho-folk music and its salient messages. Enough to catch even MTV's eyes, apparently. They've been through Houston a couple of times now and are aware the music has a local following.
"The East Side Social Center, where we played last year, is a very rad space with tons of cool books and the people there are very nice also," says Zack, the band's high-energy accordionist. "The bands we played with at that show, Days n Daze and Say Girl Say, are both very good and they were fun to watch.
"The time before that we played at Super Happy Fun Land and it was a very awkward show, so I'm glad we came back to amend our first impressions. Both times we had very good taqueria food, and that is saying something, since we're from California," he says.
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