Brad Smith Interview On Blind Melon, Shannon Hoon, Abandon Jalopy
Brad Smith was playing on the streets before he joined Blind Melon, which gained its greatest hit with Smith's hit song “No Rain.” "I wrote a lot of songs before Blind Melon actually got together but that was the only one that the band wanted to cover at that time," Smith told Uinterview in an exclusive interview. "I was writing and playing on the streets for maybe a year or two before Blind Melon formed and “No Rain” just happened to be one of those songs that I had written.
Blind Melon first formed in 1990 with the original band members Shannon Hoon, Rogers Stevens, Christopher Thorne and Glen Graham. But the band soon began dealing with Hoon's struggle with drug addiction — Hoon died of cocaine overdose while on tour in 1995. Following a breakup in 1996, the group reunited once again ten years later and released three new songs, including “For My Friends.” Now the band is back together touring and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of "No Rain."
Smith still finds himself recalling the Hoon he used to know. “It’s really special and it’s really fun to go back and reflect on that and the sadness of Shannon not being with us anymore,” Smith told Uinterview. “I in a weird way I enjoy missing him because it still makes me feel close somewhat.”
I was a self-taught musician. I think it’s really important to just listen to whatever floats your boat. My objective was to be able to play live and on stage in front of people so whatever it took from my end in terms of learning just to achieve that simple thing is what I was focused on. So you know, I started off on some really bone-head easy stuff back in the day where you just ride the A string, whatever it takes to get on stage and then my playing got more sophisticated and I started taking apart like James Jamerson and Paul McCartney lines and people like that. I think you just got to be really driven especially if you’re going to be self taught.
Yes, there’s a jam, there is a long jam that is recorded but there is actually a mix on it. Chris and I both did a mix on the jam, but it’s not a song, it’s just a jam. But within that jam there are some other future Melon songs within the jam, which is pretty interesting because it was so early in our development.
We are trying to right now. We have two dates in Buenos Aires and we are trying to figure out how to make the jump over to Rio while we’re down there in August. So it is our goal to tour in Brazil, we just got to figure out how to make it happen. We want to tour in Chile as well and Argentina, Brazil and hopefully Peru. We’re trying to work it out, we want to come really bad.
Well we are! We are going to be playing in the Indiana State Fair, I think and there are some dates posted on our website. We are going to play in the States. I think we've got like three things on our books right now before 2013 is up. But no long tour.
I would say likely. We’re still sifting through hours and hours of footage that Shannon shot on his video camera and we’re trying to figure out how to piece it together into some kind of short movie or long movie, just anything that would make sense to our viewer.
I wrote a lot of songs before Blind Melon actually got together but that was the only one that the band wanted to cover at that time. I was writing and playing on the streets for maybe a year or two before Blind Melon formed and “No Rain” just happened to be one of those songs that I had written.
It was just kind of like another video shoot type of atmosphere for me. There was a lot of waiting around. This was the first one that we had extensive extras, with all the 'Bee people' dressed up and stuff. But I remember being in the trailer for most of the day and I remember them shooting a lot of performances of the little Bee people dancing around on the field and stuff. I remember, and I’m not going to name names, a lot of people were mighty inebriated during the shoot within the band and it was a very kind of like a party atmosphere, to tell you the truth. It would even come up in the video. We were not taking ourselves too seriously. We were having fun being outside and enjoying the colors. It was awesome.
I’ll try to keep it as light as I can. It’s a really personal thing, but I don’t mind sharing some stuff about it. It definitely put a strain on my and his relationship. You know, him having that kind of destructive behavior. I was really young back then and I didn’t know how to handle it and I don’t think anybody in the band knew how. We didn’t have the knowledge or the education or even the experience with dealing with someone who was truly addictive and being destructive. That being said, he had enormous moments of clarity, and I’ve got a couple of letters that he wrote me back then between episodes and stuff, they were like apology letters and trying to explain some of his behavior to me which he didn’t have to do, but Shannon had a big heart and he was genuinely and at the core, a really really good person. His judgment got clouded with drugs and it’s really a sad thing. I still read those letters every once in a while and they still move me to tears. I keep them locked away in my little closet space where I have some letters and personal mementos from that whole period of Blind Melon. It’s really special and it’s really fun to go back and reflect on that and the sadness of Shannon not being with us anymore has become like that familiar friend that I’ve kind of reveled in; it’s kind of like a dark outlook on the whole situation but I in a weird way enjoy missing him because it still makes me feel close somewhat. It’s a really odd thing to try to explain or to get that across to people. It sounds more dark and twisted than it actually really is. But you know, I miss Shannon and being sad still makes me feel close to him in some strange way.
Yes! Nico just sang on one of my solo project songs, I have a solo project called Abandon Jalopy. And she just sang on the song with me which we called “The Wolf.” It turned out so well. Nico vists us like once every summer during spring break and comes to California, so I still stay in touch with Nico and her mother. We talk on the phone a lot and text. She’s grown up, she’s grown up to be a really good singer and just a really super sweet girl.
I’m not sure you know. She’s really smart, educated person and I think she’s going to be going to college. Shannon like the rest of us in the band, we were not college material back in the day. We were following our heart. I think three of us dropped out of college, no wait let me take that back, four out of five dropped out of college, left our little hometowns and ran away to California. I don’t really think Nico fits that mindset at all. She’s doing really well in school and she’s got some goals of her own and she can sing. She can sing. She’s got a really sweet voice, it’s real different from Shannon. It’s not like Shannon’s voice, she’s got a really sweet, pure, girl’s voice and every time she comes to my studio in California, we get to record some together and it’s always such a treat for me.
Well, I write all the songs for Abandon Jalopy and basically I just I can’t produce or mix other people’s stuff just because it’s not as fulfilling as doing your own stuff. The way the music part of it is, I just look at it as an opportunity to just stand on my own two feet and put my own stuff out there and I guess communicate directly with fans and people instead of just mixing other people’s stuff, it’s good to have it. I get to use it for my own experience for my own project and it’s going really well. I just released “Death and Joy” a year ago which was the name of the record and I pretty much got this next record written, it’s probably going to be called “Break In the Weather.” I’m really excited about playing it. I’m excited to move forward. I’m trying to get Dave Kushner from Velvet Revolver as well. Blind Melon right now is doing about 10-20 shows a year and Abandon Jalopy has become more of a fulltime gig for me. So yeah, Abandon Jalopy is my baby and I’m really excited about this new record.