Blair Jollands

Just Listen To This had the chance to speak with the NZ songsmith, up at the Cornbury Festival. He’s a bit different. But so are we. Here’s our conversation…

Supplied By PR

JLTT: Your new album is entitled ‘7 Blood’. What’s the origin of the title as it is quite quirky?

BJ: ‘7 Blood’ is the name of the herb that I picked from a mountainside in Spain to help combat a tick bite about three years ago. It kind of is like my New Zealand away from home. I needed some help with the Lyme’s Disease so I saw a Herbal Doctor down there and we picked it. ‘7 Blood’ is the non-Latin name and I thought that kind of sums up the rollercoaster of life that one lives when a pathogen such as Lyme is influencing your mood occasionally.

JLTT: In terms of your releases what is your latest single?

BJ: It’s ‘I’ll Remember You’. It is a song about Frank Mitchell who was connected to The Krays. I did the soundtrack for a film called ‘The Mad Axeman’ which is the nickname for Frank Mitchell and that isn’t released yet that film but I wrote ‘I’ll Remember You’ and it was only one verse and when I was putting the album together I thought “That is such a strong song”. So I finished it and it is very traditional and Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra in style.

JLTT: You’ve worked with a lot of people in the past one of whom is Boy George. That’s quite an experience. How did that come about?

BJ: Yeah. It was so cool working with Boy George. Early when I came to London some of my early gigs were at a place called The Twelve Bar Club and there was a guy called Ellen North who was the promoter there for Plum Music. He shared an office with the label for Boy George and Boy George would go and check on the guys and he heard the single ‘Everything But You’. That was the first single he put out and then two albums after that. Then he closed the label down. But he was very helpful.

JLTT: It is that lower-range Bowie type of voice isn’t it? It is what you can do with that raspy range and how emotive you can be.

BJ: Yes how emotive. You’ve got to use what you’ve got.

JLTT: What’s your favourite Bowie album?

BJ: That’s a tricky one I love so many. But it is probably ‘Low’.

JLTT: I love ‘Station To Station’.

BJ: Same period. ‘Low’ is pretty dark.

JLTT: What type of harmonicas do you use?

BJ: Hohners. Soak them in whiskey.

JLTT: I swear by the Lee Oskar range.

BJ: What do you soak them in?

JLTT: I don’t soak them in anything. I just keep them nice and clean. (Laughs)

BJ: (Laughs)

JLTT: Lee Oskar was in War ‘Low Rider’. He is bringing out a low B in late 2018 which gives you the octave below. This is a question I’m asking lots of people; I’m finding at the moment that half of a song I haven’t finished off meets a brand new bit of a song or a chorus and they seem to mate. Does it ever happen to you?

BJ: I think it definitely has. You’ve got a whole vault of ideas and you lay them down and sure with time you might put a song down and then later on it might work. It can be a bit of a Frankenstein sewing different lengths of a body together.

JLTT: Where is your hometown?

BJ: My hometown is Auckland, New Zealand.

JLTT: Give us four words to describe your actual hometown.

BJ: Isolated, Market Garden, Cul-De-Sac, Escape. Music was my form of escape from that mediocre area.

JLTT: Can you imagine living in a town like Oxford and then you hear something and then you hear something like The Talking Heads and suddenly the sound of the city going into your head. It must prompt quite an action in you as to what might happen.

BJ: Yeah. It clicks switches in your mind that can’t be undone.

JLTT: Once that’s happened there’s no going back. Like going through a doorway and that happens all of the time. When you meet someone, converse with someone, when something happens to you.

BJ: That’s very philosophical and very true.

JLTT: When you are onstage do you have any favourite stage instruments that you like to take up onstage with you.

BJ: My voice. I like to layer harmonies and also the harmonica. If I could just do a little more on the trumpet I’d probably bring that up on onstage more. But I think the guitar for me is the one I’m most comfortable with.

JLTT: Did you hear bands like The Mission?

BJ: The Mission? I’m not sure.

JLTT: There was a whole Goth wave here in the late Eighties early Nineties like Fields of Nephilim and they were exploring the use of the lower range of the voice.

BJ: In New Zealand where I grew up, when you were in the Eighties we were behind ten years or so. So it was all Blues and The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. It was way different.

JLTT: I saw Jimi Hendrix and I met Jim Morrison.

BJ: Really?

JLTT: I can’t sing Doors songs because my voice – though not as good – is too similar. When you leave the stage after a performance what two things do you like to have achieved?

BJ: For everybody in the audience just to be in the same zone as me. To achieve where nobody is really thinking and just feeling the music really. I hope I can just get in that zone.

JLTT: That suggests being naturally harmonious.

BJ: Everybody being on the same frequency. So everyone is really digging it like what Keith Richards says “If you think you stink when you are onstage the audience can smell that.” If you’re feeling it then they are gonna starting feeling it. I really like to come off stage knowing that we have been in that zone together for a good part of time.

JLTT: Which of your songs is you at your most reflective/philosophical?

BJ: ‘When The Devil Arrives At My Door’.

JLTT: For what reason?

BJ: It’s kind of like the song that I’m very proud that I wrote it and it is my swansong.

JLTT: Like a tombstone song.

BJ: That’s my tombstone song. I think it sums me up.

JLTT: It sounds a tinge like Johnny Cash.

(Ponders) BJ: ‘When The Devil Arrives At My Door’. It does! (Laughs) Growing up in New Zealand you are not face to face with so many influences that force the way that you go so there is a lot of freedom down there. I think a lot of the lyrics in that song are quite abstract. It is very country too as it has a pedal steel.

JLTT: Someone like Guy Clark was working in that region – it is the sombre side of country. Where people say “I’ve been there”. : I think it is a song Bob Dylan might like if he got to hear it.

BJ: Ok. Well thank you mate.

JLTT: Thanks so much.

Pete Sargeant



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(Thank to Blair and Sacha)

Feature Image and Photos Supplied By PR

You can watch the official music video for ‘I’ll Remember You’ in this article.

Blair Jollands new album ‘7 Blood’ is out now on Glowb Recordings.

Our full review of Blair’s album can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2O2IT1t

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2JtxOVW