The Brag

Bluejuice: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

In Blog, Brag 330 (September 21) on October 30, 2009 at 9:04 am

There is no one Bluejuice.
This statement may sound convoluted, but given that traditional music journalists aim to pin down and dissect bands, uncover what makes them tick and then reshape them into beautiful literary butterflies, the multiplicity of Bluejuices poses an interesting quandary. Having lazy beers with dual frontmen Jake Stone and Stav Yiannoukas makes clear that getting a straight answer out of this band is about as likely as finding out who killed Michael Jackson. It could be anything. It could be anyone. But somewhere in that god-forsaken mystery is a damn good story. We’re probably not going to find it.

The bouncing Bluejuice, the deflated Bluejuice, the hyperactive Bluejuice, the defeatist Bluejuice, the romantic Bluejuice, the dirty sex joke-telling Bluejuice, the Bluejuice formerly all in lower case Bluejuice, the injured Bluejuice, the skipping Bluejuice, the dumb pop music Bluejuice, the lyrically intense Bluejuice, Jake’s Bluejuice, Stav’s Bluejuice, Jake and Stav’s Bluejuice, Jake vs. Stav’s Bluejuice, Bluejuice against the world, Bluejuice giving the finger to the mainstream, the radio-ready Bluejuice, the furious Bluejuice the personally shit-scared Bluejuice.
Houston, we have a problem.

“We are aware that we are not going to be Albert Einstein to your emotions. We’re not going to be the band you read Frankie magazine to or something…”

If you have ears and a radio, chances are you’ve heard the Bluejuice’s latest single, ‘Broken Leg.’ It sounds like a really fun, cheesy 80s power-pop anthem about Jake’s perpetual ability to injure himself. On one level, it’s exactly that. But as Stav explains, just because the songs are upbeat doesn’t mean the themes have to be. “Hopefully it can be many things to many people,” he says cryptically. “You know, it’s like when you listen to ’emo music’, you’ve already selected the kind of mood you’re going to be in?” Jake cuts in. (He does this a lot. So does Stav. In fact, there are very few whole sentences on the entire recording. It’s awesome. You had to be there.) “But on some songs, like ‘Work’ or ‘Ms Johnston’, we are purposely selecting a sort of semi-throwaway, FM radio pop.” It turns out that ‘Broken Leg’ isn’t just about physical injury, but also mental pain. Jake will later reveal that “the broken leg itself is depression personified – it’s a weakness, a crutch, a source of stubborn pride, it’s all that wrapped up together.”

“If I’m doing a show and I’m at my best, I’m furious, I’m angry. During those songs, I’m one second from kicking that person in the front row right in the mouth.”

Bluejuice do not want to kill you. Jake’s giving a run down on how exactly the boys manage to put on such spectacular live shows, and much of it comes from really meaning what he’s singing about. Stav comments that what consumes his co-pilot “is like, a fury. [He’s] Possessed. Out-of-body.” Jake pretty much agrees, and mentions that it’s great for psyching up an audience. “They see you looking like that, and they dance. They see hysteria and they become hysterical.“ Bluejuice love it when they make people go batshit. In fact, you could almost say it’s what they do for a living. These days I’ve taken to making incredibly direct eye contact with members of the front row,” says Stav excitedly, “…to the point that I don’t think they know what to do with themselves.” He’s also often seen without a shirt on, but that’s just another sacrifice Bluejuice make for their fans. “I want people to come to our shows and be able to be themselves,” he explains, “So if that means I have to, not be that appealing on stage…” Jake jumps on the bandwagon: “Every morning he gets up busting to go to the gym, but he limits himself, y’know?”

“There was a point where she wanted to stab him through the heart a thousand times with a meat stake!”

Bluejuice have just recorded their sophomore album, their first for Dew Process. Head Of The Hawk is not a typical ride in the Bluejuice bus – if there ever was such a thing. There’s less rapping and more singing. The band rock out harder and with more artillery than ever before. It’s a get-it-and-go record that just so happens to deal with infidelity, break-ups, fuck-ups and fucking. Bluejuice love talking about fucking. Nothing is taboo with Jake and Stav, which is precisely what makes them so enigmatic. When asked about recording with Public Enemy and Weezer super-producer Chris Shaw, they explain exactly what it took to get a Brooklyn engineer to stay in a Surry Hills motel for eight weeks. “Once a week we were contractually obliged to go up there and jerk him off because he was without his wife. So we were on a six-week rotation,” says Stav, before launching into an analysis of which band member needed which body part the most. “That’s the risk,” he laughs, “if Jamie [bass] or Jerry [keys] gets RSI, we’re fucked. So we’d send them in for oral, whereas we can’t use our mouths…”

“I’m worried and neurotic about everything, but I’m not going to entertain that bullshit for too long, or it’ll ruin me.”

When he’s not cracking dirty jokes, Jake’s a bundle of nerves. He’s constantly re-evaluating his and his band’s worth, worrying about losing his voice or screwing up his knees from one too many reverse jumps off the foldback . “Even my harmony parts become hard when I’m thrashing myself to pieces,” he says, but keeping up appearances is all part of the show. “The tragedy,” he reasons, “would be writing better and better songs and not being able to sing them. But the reality is I would sing them anyway, because I’m a bit belligerent.” Jake’s conflicting personality is one sixth in a band that is in continual musical conflict with itself, always challenging to get to the next level. This means that Head Of the Hawk is a double, or even three-headed beast. The oft-joked about, ‘ethnic’ side of Stav likes the analogy: “Yeah Cerberus, the three headed dog that defends fuckin’ Hades…” This awareness doesn’t mean the band doesn’t know how to have fun. One the contrary, Brag has had Stav and Jake practically naked for a cover shoot. They’ve also jumped out of planes, started religious cults in Pitt St. Mall and single-handedly made skipping a hardcore sport. It’s all quite funny considering ‘Work’ proffers the sentimental lyric “I ain’t into that.” After years of pranks, stunts and hectic performances, is there anything Bluejuice aren’t into?
“Anal. Yeah anal is a challenge. “
There is no one Bluejuice. But getting to know even a few of them is an experience you’ll never forget.

Jonno Seidler


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