Blue Million Miles is Building Walls, only to tear them down.
In November of 2006, the former members of Small Objects recruited a new drummer and adopted the name Blue Million Miles, which they borrowed from an old Captain Beefheart song. The quality of the songwriting didn't fundamentally change, but the act went from a solid indie band to a full-fledged rock outfit whose sweeping sheets of electrifying guitar and muscular rhythms are a vehicle for music that is vividly imaginative and thoughtful in its commentary on life and the world in which we live. There is a refreshingly palpable immediacy to the band's music that can be heard throughout its debut full-length, Of Building Walls. From its chillingly bluesy opening track to its epic denouement, Walls is a showcase for a group in its first full bloom of creativity. We spoke with them recently about their upcoming CD-release show and their songwriting.
Westword: Why did you call your album Of Building Walls?
Sam McNutt: There are a lot of walls, lyrically, in the album. Thematically, it's about building things up in your life and then tearing them down because you're that kind of person, never settling and the good and bad that comes from that. Walls and trees are symbols and imagery that always pop up in the songs I write. It has to do with confinement and not allowing that to sink in too far.
Jeff Shapiro: We build foundations in houses and relationships that naturally can be broken down so easily.
SMN: By choice. It's a lyric from "Pendulum." Building up and tearing down and always starting new in life.
The structure of "Over the Falls" sounds a little bit like a folk song. Did it start out that way?
JS: Sam does come from that perspective. We played acoustic guitars in college together. Pared down, any of our songs could be acoustic, not singer-songwriter, but folky songs in the vein of Crazy Horse. On some level, that music can be reduced to a folk sound.
SMN: "Over the Falls" is one of our oldest songs and it goes back to our Small Objects days. At that time, all my songs were written on my acoustic because I didn't have anywhere at home where I could play around on the electric guitar.
"God is Dead" isn't based on the Nietzsche quote, is it?
SMN: No, that's a song that we came up with in practice one day. I was messing around lyrically, and Mike thought he heard me singing that, and I may have been, and we started calling it that because at the time we had five songs called "new song." Afterward I started writing lyrics around that idea.
Some of your songs seem semi-political.
SMN: I'd say "God is Dead" is very, and "Trees." But that would be it.
JS: I'd say some of the lines are, but overall, at least how I always read it, it's more social commentary than necessarily politically driven. But it's so hard in this kind of atmosphere to separate the two that they're pretty well meshed. It's more social response and cracks we see all the time in our society.
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