An aggressive mix of pop, rock, hip hop, electro and disco, Bluejuice are in their element making you dance in a retarded, unselfconscious way. The combination of drums, bass and keys and two harmonizing singers sounds unique, but it’s the violence, energy and humour with which the band attack their music that makes them stand out. Latest single ‘Broken Leg’ sums up the attitude at work – cathartic and silly, emotionally complicated, mental and sweaty. Bluejuice turn entertainment into a contact sport.
The single comes from the band’s second long player ‘Head Of The Hawk’ – a mixture of old and new, pop and dance elements delivered with the melody, cheek and psychosis fans expect from the band.
Songs like ‘Head Of The Hawk’ and ‘(Ain’t) Telling The Truth’ see the band take on new forms, mixing hip hop backbeat with 80s melody (REO Speedwagon meets Mad Professor) to deliver surprisingly emotional pop, while ‘Little Emperor’ and ‘Miss Johnston’ weld ska and pounding disco to Iggy Pop’s raucous punk, and ‘Broken Leg’ makes Van Halen, Thin Lizzy and The Who tear their collective hair out on the dancefloor.
“It’s a break-up record for people who’d prefer to be drunk and dancing,” says singer Jake Stone. “A lot of good things turned bad in the year that led up to making this album. I was losing my mind. I wanted the lyrics and the energy in the record to reflect that, but not at the expense of melody. We still wanted to make an album that sounded really pop and upbeat, you know?”
Brooklyn-based producer/engineer Christopher Shaw worked to translate the band’s rough demos into a polished production; his discography a clear indicator of his ability to deal with Bluejuice’s tangled references. Chris is most recognized for his work engineering the early Public Enemy records, as well as spending the past decade recording Bob Dylan. In between he has been on the desk for a list of artist that includes Weezer, Super Furry Animals, Ween, Chemical Bros and Dashboard Confessional.
“I was attracted to Bluejuice,” says Shaw, “because their high energy on previous tracks like Vitriol and the Reductionist. The new demos were even better. Working with a band that had no guitarist seemed to be an interesting prospect as well. (Plus Jerry kept offering me a Ferrari during the recording process. Especially while playing Grand Theft Auto.)
I tried to deliver a more polished/varied sound to the band without dulling any of the things that make them such a great live band. I think we succeeded. There is a great variety of keyboard, bass and drum sounds but yet the record has a very consistent vibe. I pushed everyone in the band to deliver their best performances, almost to the point of exhaustion, and they delivered in spades.”
On the visual front the band have continued collaborating with their friend and colleague, Sydney director Sam Bennetts. The band’s video clips are becoming notorious – from ambushing innocent bystanders as a cult in Pitt St. Mall for ‘Vitriol’, to miming whilst skydiving for ‘The Reductionist’, and now skipping their way to disrepute in ‘Broken Leg’, Bluejuice blur the line between televised entertainment and what people expect of a band.
Bluejuice and Bennetts are long term friends but the combination works best because “Sam shares the same absurd sense of humour as us, and he manages to make our mental problems look charming” say Bluejuice.
Bluejuice formed during a residency at a terrible pub on George St in the Sydney CBD, from which they were soon fired and replaced by a Neil Diamond covers band. Despite the unlikely start, the five friends released two independent EPs and in 2007 their debut LP ‘Problems’ hit with an unexpected level of success, with the lead single ‘Vitriol’ becoming the highest played song on Triple J for almost a year, and charting at 11 in the 2007 Hottest 100, an unprecedented level of radio play of an unsigned band.
The band were also shortlisted for the 2007 Australian Music Prize, and won The Best Emerging Artist section of that same award. In addition, Bluejuice supported major names like Tricky, We Are Scientists, The Specials, Dizzee Rascal, Souls of Mischief, Diverse, and played big gigs on festival bills such as Big Day Out, Splendour In The Grass, Homebake, Falls Festival, and Southbound.
In 2008 the band took that momentum through a sizzling performance at the Splendour festival to sign a record deal with Dew Process (The Panics, The Grates, The Living End). The result of all that is the release of ‘Head of the Hawk’; the second record that has thrust their raucous pop derangement into ever-increasing public consciousness.
“‘Head Of The Hawk’ is as close as we’ve come to a 3D document of the band – the stupidity and jokes and the darkness behind the material, the pop melodies and the aggression in the playing, and the dancing. Ah yes, the dancing.”