Blacklight Ruckus Interview
Blacklight Ruckus harmonizes dance, funk, and psychedelic rock until your face melts. A young band out of the New Hampshire seacoast, the three members, Thomas Forbes, Garrett Cypher and Steve Kysor started in the Fall of 2009 and have been tearing up fests and holding down the New Hampshire music scene ever since. With an album released this summer and a new one in the making, Blacklight Ruckus is coming in hot to the New England underground music scene. Steez met up with the guys to find out what’s good with upcoming festivals, a new album, and hot beats for the 2011-2012 winter season.
What’s the story behind the music; how did you start?
Well, Petah. Pete Prudhomme is the one that set us up. He put us on a match making thing. Actually, Garrett and Steve were playing in a band together called Something Wicked; we had a residency at Ballard’s in Durham, that’s how we got to meet Pete, and were playing there every week, but our bassist at the time was leaving ‘cause he got a real job. He became a scientist actually, credible. At that point, Pete was like, “Oh, I know this kid, he’s sick; I can introduce you to him.” Which is how we met Thomas, it was love at first sight. He called us up and got together and jammed. We scouted him out; it was like “No, you’re coming here because you’re going to start a band.” It was the pretense for the whole thing. We don’t fuck around!
You definitely don’t. The three of you swap instruments across tracks creating a sound totally unique to Blacklight Ruckus. How did that develop?
We like to change instruments, switch it up, and keep it interesting. It was definitely the dynamic that was the biggest shift when we switched to this band, for sure. Thomas is like the every man, he’ll fill in wherever we need him on anything, wherever he wants to sit, and we have three different seats so that allows us to move around, and that’s definitely part of the fun in it. It’s basically what got Steve into keyboard, being able to have Thomas play drums and allowed him to try something new and have a whole new dynamic to the band that he never could before. It was a fucking blessing, so thank you, it’s a sweet melody. It’s helped [Steve] progress in his music, and we all like it. We all have different styles that work together somehow. It took a while, but now it’s pretty solid, something that we all feel and can jam to.
The self-titled Blacklight Ruckus album came out this past summer. It’s your second album; tell us about producing this album together as a band.
Some of it’s a little bit older, stuff that had been kicking around from earlier. A lot of that actually is older material now, like Thomas had Lovely Vibes and we’d been playing Hey You for a while, then we started with the newer stuff like Down and Out and Sexy MF. It’s bits and pieces that we’d all come up with prior to having this band, and we just shared them with each other, learned them, it was all good stuff so, this one was a compilation of everybody’s projects put together with some stuff that we all wrote together as a band. Joe Got Boots was the first one that we wrote together as a band, which was interesting. We were all singing, just writing the words down as we went, it took a while. It was different, singing was something that I had to definitely learn, you know. We never plan on singing. We’ve always hoped on having a vocalist but it never happened so we just have to fill in, sing, and play your instrument at the same time. It’s a trip sometimes, man, it’s a trip. You can’t ever think about it, that’s the curse. As soon as you realize that you’re singing and playing guitar at the same time, you’re fucked. You may think right then like, oh my god I’m not gonna fuck up, I’m gonna be fine, but you thought it, you thought the bad thought. And then you mess up, swear to god, every time.
The CD release party that you had at RedHook was a huge event you guys put together for yourselves. Do you feel like the fan base is starting to grow as a result of the events, the shows, and the new album?
Yeah, that was our first event that we put on, organized, got everyone there, it was awesome. Only broke a few things, the crowd was great, we had fun. We joke that we’re the best opening band ever. We get there, we get people in and pumped up and then we have to stop because the next band is up. But, since the CD came out and the party we’ve definitely seen some newer publicity, the fan base is growing, and we’re actually going into the studio tomorrow to start recording the next album.
When can we expect that to be out?
We would hope by no later that the spring, but I’d like for it to be sooner, it’ll happen pretty quick.
Are you writing all new music for this next album?
It’s gonna be some stuff we’ve had kickin’ around, some of it we played at the last release party, some of it we haven’t played out. It’ll be all previously unreleased music, a shorter disc definitely, but we’ll be recording it in a professional studio environment. The last CD we recorded in here, so, yeah, that was a trip. In case you were wondering why the walls are covered in mover’s blankets and foam hanging from the ceiling, that’s why; we would just divide the room up, get all the mics out, it was a trip. We did alright, but it took long enough, that’s for sure. A few of the songs were done in the studio, but most of it was done in here. We’re excited to have the whole album be produced in the studio.
You guys have done several festivals in the past, I know you killed it pretty recently at The Big Up, melted some faces. What’s up with the festival scene for you guys?
The Big Up was sweet we got to play on a crazy, amazing stage, the lighting was great, the sound guy was great. It’s always so key to have it sound good coming back at you, biggest crowd we’ve ever played for. A lot of people in the New York area hit us up after that show; we definitely grew as a band after that. It was nice; it’s a whole new area for us. Plus, we got to throw tons of shit at people. We had like 600 glow sticks, eight or nine giant beach balls, a whole bunch of stuff. It was all gone at the end. People carrying them away tripping balls, it was great. Then there was the secret package. So, we’re out there with a mega phone and the mystery box looking for the guy under the most influence in the crowd, totally dazed, wicked confused, and Garrett walks up to him and gives him this box that says Open me with a huge question mark on it and this kid is trippin’ out and I passed it to him and he opens it up and it’s a Sega Genesis with all the wires and cables. A special present for that guy, a reward for his trip. I think we gave him Lion King and NHL 99. Congratulations, you enjoyed this night way more than everyone else [laughter].
What’s next for Blacklight Ruckus?
We’ve got this new album; we’re shooting for at least five tracks. We want to start playing more in Portland and Boston, maybe on a mountain top somewhere. We want to hook up with a label at some point, get a van, and do some traveling. We’re always growing, we got ourselves a new PA with the money we made, an upgrade from a PA we had since high school. We want to host a Susan G. Komen event next summer, just some of the things that we do. Follows us on Facebook, we’re on Reverbnation. Also, getting on the Portsmouth radio, we’ve been played on WUNH for a while now and we’re hoping that the Portsmouth radio stations are going to pick us up and play us for the local public. We’re playing Harvest Fest and Magnetic Gathering pretty soon. Then some Concord shows at True Brew, Penuche, and Green Martini. We’re doing a Halloween Show at Ballard’s in Durham. That will be our fiesta for the fall, pumped to get in there, it was the place we played our first show so we gotta take it back to the roots. Up and up and up.
Interviewed By: Cat Reagan