If you think you’ve Erica Driscoll’s voice before, you may be right. Maybe you heard it on the 2012 Honda Civic commercial, which featured the kicky “Where The Kids Are,” or maybe you’ve heard it on one of several movie soundtracks, or under another moniker, “Astaire.” Blondefire has been stirring up attention since having the distinction of being the first unsigned band to record an iTunes Exclusive EP that landed at No. 1 on the Alternative charts, but that was just the beginning. That Honda tune went on to become #1 on Sirius Radio’s AltNation.
Blondfire is Erica and her younger brother Bruce, a prolific songwriting duo from Los Angeles with an American father and Brazilian mother. Raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they are citizens of both countries, and the influence of diverse cultures is evident in their music. Hard rock, ’80s pop, Bossa Nova, and atmospheric film soundtracks were a staple in the house. This unique influence has led to their own brand of catchy, melodic, percussion driven music accented by rock-like guitar rifts. “You can hear (the Brazilian influence) in the way we use melodies,” Erica says, “and in the way that Bruce likes to put all kinds of variations into his beats.” Bruce adds that he leans toward certain chords that lend a melancholy feel one could trace back to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso, and Astrud Gilberto.
“Waves” goes to radio May 7th, and is the second single off their debut Modern Art/Warner Bros Records EP, who signed them in August 2012. Fresh from a tour with AWOL Nation, Blondfire will be opening for Foals on a two-month North American run that kicks off tomorrow, April 25th in Houston, TX and runs through June. They will also be performing at this year’s Lollapalooza festival.
AMFM: TELL US ABOUT THE MAKING OF THE VIDEO “WAVES”
ERICA: The director is Gus Black, and he wanted to do a video in Death Valley. The song is about life’s ups and downs, relating to the waves in the ocean. So I came up with the idea that I was trying to find the ocean, and I kept finding things along the way that said I was on the right path – a starfish, an old oar, seashells etc. I’d never been to Death Valley before, it was so beautiful. We went with a small team of people and it felt like a really fun road trip.
The second night I woke up at four in the morning so we could get out there at sunrise. I’m usually really tough at that kind of stuff, but it was really cold that early in the morning, I was trying to keep my feet warm and I was barefoot. One of my favorite parts was filming the last shot. We were driving back to Los Angeles, and Gus wanted to get footage of me walking at night. We pulled the cars off the side of the road, and the headlights were shining on the side of the mountain. When we got out, our silhouettes were cast on the side of the mountain – like huge gigantic figures . I danced with a shawl and moved around – that made it into the middle part of the video, during the instrumental. It was a really fun experience.
AMFM: CAN YOU TELL ME WHY YOU CHANGED YOUR NAME? YOU WERE ON A ROLL, ON YOUR WAY, AND THEN CHANGED YOUR NAME. THAT’S SO VERY DIFFICULT FOR A BAND TO DO.
ERICA: It was really hard. When you become a band and finally choose a name, it’s hard to find the thing that represents you, who you are and your sound. We felt like that was who we were. We loved the sound of the name, actually thought it would be an homage to a great dancer. He was known as Fred Astaire, not just Astaire, so we didn’t think it would be a problem.
We were young, it was one of our first real tours, and we were just starting to gain momentum online when his widow got wind of it. She threatened to sue us for any money we’d made. Not that we made any, actually. She didn’t want any sound alikes, or any different spellings of the name either. We didn’t have the means to fight it. So yes, at the time it was hard, we didn’t think of ourselves as anything else (but Astaire).
We searched for a long time to find a new name, but we didn’t want to have that same problem. So we were driving one night and a friend of ours misspoke and said “I think I smell a blondfire,” instead of a bonfire. That’s where it came from. We googled it to make sure that no one else had that name.
One thing we like about it is that it’s both feminine and masculine. People that knew us as Astaire don’t like Blondefire, but those that know us as Blondefire don’t like Astaire. It’s strange.
AMFM: SO YOU’VE MOVED BEYOND IT AND DON’T BEAR ANY ILL WILL?
ERICA: We’ve moved past that, it’s been awhile and it just seems like it was another time. I dont wish her any ill will. It’s funny, we were reminding people of her late husband in a positive way. Younger people would come up to us and they wouldn’t know who he was. At this point we’ve moved past that and I feel our name represents us.
AMFM: LAST TIME YOU WERE IN AUSTIN IT WAS FOR SXSW. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF AUSTIN?
ERICA: Yes, we played 8 shows in two and a half days. We were at the Warner brothers showcase. It was a crazy and awesome. I love Austin, it has such a cool vibe. SXSW is such a fun experience. cute little streets and cute little quaint bars. I love that you can be in a small club and see a band that either no one knows, or maybe you know one of their songs.
AMFM: TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING TOUR.(TOUR DATES BELOW)
ERICA: I’m really excited about it. I’ve been listening to The Foals new record a lot. I’m excited to watch them perform. We are going all over the United States and up into Canada too. We are going through Texas, New Orleans, Georgia, North carolina, and New York. I’m excited about that one, I used to live there.
AMFM: THAT’S A KILLER SCHEDULE. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY ON THE ROAD?
It’s s hard. I’m very very determined to stay as fit as I can. Some of the cities the options are slim. I’m stay away from chain restaurants. I have workouts I do on my laptop in my hotel room everyday. There’s a lot of sitting down involved – in the van. I run a lot . I go for a jog if they have a treadmill in the hotel. We try to hit up Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to get healthy snacks in the van. Of course there are those times when it’s late and you’re starving and you just have to get pizza.
AMFM: WHOLE FOODS STARTED HERE IN AUSTIN, YOU SHOULD STOCK UP WHEN YOU’RE HERE! WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
ERICA: Look out for the new album “Young Heart” which will be released this summer by Warner Brothers.
- 4/26 – Dallas, TX- House of Blues
- 4/27 – Austin, TX — Emo’s
- 4/28 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
- 4/30 – Atlanta, GA – Goat Farm
- 5/1 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre
- 5/3 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
- 5/4 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
- 5/5 – Washington, DC – 930 Club
- 5/6 – Albany, NY – Upstate Concert Hall
- 5/8 – Providence, RI – The Met
- 5/9 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
- 5/10 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
- 5/11 – Toronto, ON – Koolhaus
- 5/13 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
- 5/14 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts
- 5/15 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
- 5/17 – Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe
- 5/18 – Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
- 5/19 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
- 5/20 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
- 5/29 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
- 5/30 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore
- 5/31 – Seattle, WA – Neptune
- 6/3 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
- 6/4 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
- 6/5 – Lawrence, KS – Granada
- 6/7 – St. Louis, MO – Pageant
- 6/9 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls
- 6/11 – Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head
- 6/12 – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel