INTERVIEW: Bleeker Ridge
A small town can be your worst nightmare. Not because everyone you know is practically your neighbour, but because boredom drives people to fulfill dares, like skinny-dipping in a teacher’s swimming pool or hooking up with your best friend’s fling at a random house party. For BLEEKER RIDGE, it’s a different story. As guitarist Dan Steinke explained before a gig at Tattoo Rock Parlour in Toronto, the small town lifestyle has pushed the group to break out from feeling trapped by doing something different. In this case, that’s produce an alternative rock sound that mingles with a fistful of genres and demands to be heard.
Youth is often characterized as having a rebellious nature. With that attitude, is it important to be close to your family?
Absolutely. If it wasn’t for all the family associated with this band, we wouldn’t have gotten to the place we’re at now. Our parents have been super supportive, my dad especially, as he would drive us there and back for shows and pick us up whenever we needed him. Family is important in any situation.
Do you think the ties you have with them help fuel your passion for music?
Definitely, but it’s been fueled not only by our parents, but even our grandparents, aunts and uncles, everyone. There’s always been music playing in my house and my brother and I grew up on that.
Does the name Bleeker Ridge represent those close bonds?
It does and it doesn’t. When you’re first starting out as a band, you look for a cool name. The other boys lived on Bleeker Street and we lived on Ridge Avenue in Orillia so we just kind of put the two names together. It was a pretty easy fit and it stuck.
Small Town Dead represents the unanimous outlook that there’s never anything to do in a small town. What separates you from other groups coming from small communities?
It’s a general idea and it’s not just about our town per se. It’s about every small town and I think the general purpose is just to get out and do something else. Even in a city like Toronto, there’s two million people but you sometimes feel a little bit trapped and you just want to get out and do something different.
Has that lifestyle influenced the meanings behind your songs?
Absolutely. If it wasn’t for coming from a small town, we wouldn’t have sat down and wrote those songs for the record. When there’s nothing to do on a Saturday night, you just sit in your garage and play music all the time.
What about the way you guys write tracks?
It’s kind of always been the same as we’ve always written together as a group. If one of us is working on the lyrics, one of us is working on something else. It’s not just one or two of us doing all of the work, all four of us sit down and do it together.
Does “You Would Have Liked It” touch on anything personal?
That one’s a bit unique in itself. We we’re working on that song when our producer came up for pre-production. We we’re listening to a variety of music that we liked at the time and that song was one of those that just “fell out”. Like when we first started working on it, Taylor started with the line “you would have liked it” and we just built off that. It’s a bit of a personal song but on so many different levels as it means something different to everyone.
Bob Marlette finally gave in after seeing you guys mature over the years. What was it like having him as a producer?
It was single-handedly the best experience of my life. He’s the most genuine person I think I’ve ever met. Just to work with him everyday, you know, wake up and go to his house, you feel like part of the family. You sit there, you write songs and he’s just a good guy all around when it comes to lending advice. He’s great to work with and he’s a genius.
Marlette’s worked with acts like Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne and you’ve been mentioned in the same breath with artists such as Nickelback and even Every Time I Die. Where does Bleeker Ridge fit?
It’s a list that’s going to keep building, I guess. Bob worked on all these Black Sabbath records and with Tony Iommi and all these people, even Tracy Chapman, so there’s a wide range of bands. I think for us, we’ll fit into a slot that just fits.
Are you trying to reinvent Canadian alternative rock?
We’re just writing what we want to write and doing what we want. That was the general idea of this whole record. Roadrunner saw something in us and they let us build on it. The experience so far has been perfect.
With dates just starting, your manager and label are ready to put you in a van and not let you out; are you nervous or excited?
Oh, we’re excited about it! We were on the road with Airbourne for a month and a half and a bit with Buckcherry and when we came home, we were only excited to be back for about an hour. Not long after, we just wanted to be back on the road (laughs). I’d say we’re all pretty excited to get out there again!
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