“A spirit came to Josh in a dream and told him he had to form a band with his cousin Jeremy and his female friend Joni. So he proposed the idea to them and it turns out they had the same dream. Oooh. Creepy!” That is how Josh describes how the band Bland was formed in 2001. He goes on to say: “In 2003, they met a Jeremiah Pepper while on the summit of Mt. Everest. They have been rocking ever since!”
As you can guess, interviewing this band was a blast. They have an awesome sense of humor and you find yourself instantly at ease in their friendly presence. They mesh like family, as only long-time friends can.
During the interview, Joni Mason (drums) and Josh McDonald (bass/vocals) were sitting on the steps of the basement where they rehearse. I was on the couch facing them. My two teenage shadowers, Kelsey Jenkins and Vickie Blakley, were sitting beside me. Jeremy McDonald (guitar/vocals) was sitting on my left and Jeremiah Pepper (guitar/vocals) was off to the far right. Jeremiah is rather shy and soft spoken, but when he sings – his voice is amazing!
The first thing we talked about was how much fun they had opening for Sugarcult at ShepFest. They said Sugarcult was cool to them and the audience was great. They also opened for Stroke 9 at Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia. Playing at Jaxx was a different experience, Josh said “It was the kind of experience where it makes you not want to play there again. We had more fun doing like small clubs and stuff.”
“We played in a barn once. It was a life changing experience.” Josh says. “The PA was bad. There was hay and it was just weird. It was so weird, so we remembered it.”
Joni and Jeremiah’s dream venue would be to play at Lollapalooza. Joni says it is the best thing since Woodstock. Josh would love to open for the Pixies at Film War in San Francisco. Jeremy would be like to play in Portland, Oregon. For now, they are happy to concentrate on finishing college at Shepherd University.
Jeremy (20) is studying art and is starting his first year. Joni (21) and Josh (22) are both beginning their fourth year as mass communication majors. Jeremiah (19) is on his second year in computer networking.
When discussing what their individual and group goals were, Josh said: “I’m already doing what I love. I don’t expect to be a rock star, but if it happens, it happens because I’m already doing what I love.” He went on to say that they would like their “music to be heard by as many people as we possibly can and like, tour.” Joni added: “When you’re trying to write music, you want other people to connect with it and like it.” Josh said that they would like to not have to pay to record and to have some sort of financial backing. Joni agreed and clarified that they would like to be “financially stable from music. Not to be rich, but be able to comfortably live off playing music.” Then Jeremy got a word in there by saying that he would like to “just get to the point where it’s not so difficult to make a record. And have popularity where people recognize and know who you are as a band.” Jeremiah agreed and summarized his feelings by saying that he would like to get to the point where they could support their families with their music.
Bland would like to get on an Indie label, but Josh says that because everything is done online, “labels just now basically just give you financial backing.” They’ve recorded a few full length CDs, but only “Seasons” is for sale right now. Their EP, “Engine Bodies” is also for sale and is highlighted on the band’s MySpace page: www.myspace.com/blandbeat. Engine Bodies is named for a song in the album that was inspired by a part in the book “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” In that book, the Indian had a dream where people had nuts and bolts spilling out of their bodies.
“Everyone in the band is good for different things. Everyone chips in for different things,” Joni says. Each member contributes to composing “be it coming up with individual parts or by writing a whole song and bringing it to the band,” says Josh. Jeremiah did the artwork on both of their current CDs.
Josh joked: “I’ve been in a band with Jeremiah for four years, but I’ve only hung out with him for like three times.” They all say Jeremiah is a hermit. He likes to play video games, especially “World of Warcraft.” Jeremiah says “I don’t play sports.” Joni likes to play video games too, but calls it “more of an addiction.” And she says that “listening to music is more of a lifestyle.” Joni also likes to watch television and play sports. Josh reads a lot and listens to music in his spare time. He likes classic literature. Jeremy says he “fights dragons, reads a lot and does other normal human stuff.”
When I asked them “If you can meet anyone, past or present, who would that be?” I got some interesting answers! Jeremy would like to meet Abe Lincoln, but Jeremiah would like to meet Kevin Spacey. Jeremy said he bets Abe was a cool guy! Josh said he’d like to meet John Lennon, but he would want him to be really rude to him. Joni would love to meet Jim Carrey, Billy Corgan or Jimmy Chamberlin.
These guys and gal were very open and quick to elaborate, but when I asked if they were single or taken – they clammed up. They are all in relationships and I did not probe further.
I wanted to know why they chose to do the Guitars for Bagpipes (www.myspace.com/guitarsforbagpipes) benefit event and Joni summed it up by saying: “we’ve done a lot of benefit shows and people don’t really plan them out so well planned out and well prepared.” Josh said that “everything we’ve read about it sounds really good. You seem to be really nice to musicians.”
Because Guitars for Bagpipes is a benefit fundraiser for the Martinsburg High School Thespian Troupe to raise the money they need to go to Scotland to perform at the 2008 International Fringe Festival (www.edfringe.com), I had to know if any of them had done any theatre. Jeremy’s answer was priceless! “I was a lightning bug in the fifth grade. My mom made my bug outfit and I held a flashlight.” He said he also played Zorro in the sixth grade and the ladies loved it!
If you get to come out to the Guitars for Bagpipes Event on Saturday, October 6, 2007 at Poor House Farm Park in Martinsburg, West Virginia, bring M&Ms. They love them, especially the yellow ones. You can throw them on the stage, at their feet, during their performance to show your appreciation.
By all means, take any opportunity to hear this band live. Their sound is unique and appeals to a wide demographic. My pop diva 22 year old daughter, two teen drama queen daughters, classic rock loving husband and my jazz loving self, are all fans of Bland.