Fayetteville transplants Drawing Blanks will be releasing Traceless, the first of a two part EP, on June 16th . Shindig caught up with the band to discuss what it was like starting out in Siloam Springs, the recording process of the new EP, and their experience playing Creekfest last month.
Drawing Blanks formed in 2014 in Siloam Springs. What was it like being in a rock n roll band in one of the more reverent sectors of NWA?
Growing up in Siloam has a big impact on our lyrics especially. A lot of our songs talk about God, the devil, sin, etc. It’s really easy for us to compare things in songs to things in the bible, because we were raised in it so heavily. The Hill brothers were raised hardcore Pentecostal, and Joel was raised Catholic. As far as the people go, the younger generation doesn’t care if you play rock n roll, but the older generation is kind of stand offish towards it. It makes them uncomfortable. Usually nothing mean though. It’s not like Footloose or anything.
Can you give us a brief history of everything that has happened in between Siloam and becoming a stalwart contender on the Fayetteville music circuit?
As far as the history goes, Joel and Sawyer’s high school band broke up in the summer of 2014, but they wanted to keep it going. At this point Joel and Sawyer had like 15 or 20 songs written between the both of them. One night they were jamming in Sawyer’s room and were getting frustrated because all we wanted was to just get our foot in the door with Fayetteville. We were playing like a show every few months. They made a list of all the songs and wrote at the top in big bold letters THIS WILL NOT GO IN VAIN. So they started Drawing Blanks.
Jared was in a jazz concert Joel went to in November 2014. After the show Joel asked him to join and he said yes. We went through several drummers before getting Davis Young in May of 2015. We played our first show June 29, 2015 at Nomad’s. A lot of things happened in that first year. We recorded a self-made EP called “Fear” at Max Lemaster’s house in Siloam. Spencer was Max’s roommate, and also Sawyer’s older brother. Spencer hadn’t even played drums in like 3 or 4 years, but Max bought a frankenstein simple kit and wanted Spencer to just play drums for him. Well it wasn’t long before he started jamming with Sawyer and Joel, and they were just blown away. He just clicked. So then in March of 2016, we decided to kick Davis out, not because we didn’t like Davis, we loved him, Spence was just a better drummer for Drawing Blanks. So we kept playing, kept grinding, and eventually people started to notice. We don’t want to work the same lame ass jobs forever. We want to play music.
“Traceless” will be the third release for Drawing Blanks as a full band. How long has this EP been in the works?
It has been in the works for almost 2 years now. We originally went in to record a 15-track album, but decided to cut it into 2 separate EP’s. So be on the lookout for Lover In The Sky coming at the end of this year, or the beginning of next year.
“Simple love for a simple mind/ I still need you all the same/ Seal your love with my Judas kiss/There’s no way to forget my name”. These are the opening lines of “Blood on My Hands”, the debut track from Traceless. The song carries a dark, noir romanticism that runs throughout the album. What draws you to this lyrical territory?
The song is a personal story about betrayal and shame, and I think that can be said for most of this album. These songs were written in a very transitive time for the band. Relationships were ending for a lot of us, we had a lot of friends turn into enemies, we lost love, lost loved ones, and had love get redefined for some of us. So I think that’s why it sort of has that darker, noir romanticism to it.
You guys recorded at East Hall here in Fayetteville, right? Who were the personnel on the record? Did you have any production assistance or did the band guide the creative direction entirely?
Yes. We had the great pleasure of getting to work with all of East Hall’s personnel on this record. Chris Moore, Chase Davidson, Will Eubanks, and Logan West. We had some assistance, Chris played organ on the record, and everyone would through in small suggestions throughout the recording process. Things like try a harmony here or double that guitar part up to give it an octave effect, but if we didn’t want to that was fine. We really had a lot of freedom to make the record how we wanted.
Your guitar parts are very technical. Makes me wonder if you composed everything before you went into the studio or if was there some improvisation? Either way, it’s intense as hell.
Well thank you very much. The riff to each song was written, but some of the lead parts during the verses, and every solo was improvised. Joel doesn’t write most of his solos completely. He writes an outline so that it starts a certain way and ends a certain way, but in between changes almost every time.
You guys have also been turning up the volume on your live game lately. How was playing Creekfest, your first festival?
Creekfest was amazing! Very cool, very kind people. Everybody felt like a good friend. We’re so thankful to Kim Smootz (Emerg Entertainment/Shindigmusic), Nash Moore, and all of Moore Outdoors for putting this on letting us play.
Can you give us the When/Where/How of your release show?
We’re trying to set one up for June 15th at Backspace. We’ll be having our friends from Acid Queen out in Tulsa joining us for that.