Blondes Have All the Fun
Published December 1, 2010
PHOTO BY JACK SIEGEL
Blondes are a band that have been inconspicuously navigating their way through the New York music scene. They are nearly impossible to Google, and their Myspace describes their sound as Western Swing/Techno/Jam Band. We caught up with the Zach Steinman and Sam Haar at Lovely Day in Soho, to find out who they are, how they describe their creative process, and their philosophies on where they like to play shows, before they headed out to Miami to DJ at Interview and MoMA PS1’s joint Art Basel party, which takes over the pool at South Beach’s Delano Hotel tonight.
KRISTINA BENNS: I have heard people describe your live show as very interesting, but they couldn’t tell me much about you besides that. So where are you guys from? Who are you? How did you two meet?
ZACH STEINMAN: I’m Zach Steinman, and I’m from San Francisco.
SAM HAAR: I’m Sam Haar, I grew up in New Jersey.
STEINMAN: We met in Ohio.
BENNS: Two terrible places?
HAAR: What, Ohio? Ohio’s a great place! New Jersey? Where I’m from its pretty all right. It’s not a terrible place. It’s two hours outside of New York. It’s not very trashy. New Jersey was a great place to grow up. I wouldn’t want to live there now, though. [LAUGHS]BENNS: You don’t use computers, but you have this sort of trance minimalist sound that’s generally associated with computers. Do you use all analog equipment?
STEINMAN: Not all analog equipment, but we only use… machines. They’re not all analog, and some of them are digital, but they’re digital machines. They’re not… computers.
BENNS: You’re DJing at Interview‘s party in Miami for Art Basel, so are you going to use computers there?
STEINMAN: We are going to be using CDs. [LAUGHS] Compact discs.
BENNS: Do you have something against computers?
STEINMAN: I hate computers! No, I love computers, I just don’t like—I prefer the tactile experience, rather than that sort of vacuous, blue-screen experience.
HAAR: I mean theoretically, we could do most of the things we do the exact same with computers but it’s—
STEINMAN: I feel like you always reach different conclusions with computers.
HAAR: Computers are limitless, you can basically always do something more, you can always find something more complicated to do. With instruments, you just play them.
BENNS: But I wouldn’t describe your music as uncomplicated.
STEINMAN: No, but its not super finely sculpted or anything like that. We make music kind of fast. Kind of fast but, well, not right now. Right now we’re not making it very fast. We’re working on some new records, some new 12 inches. The record label would say it’s going slow, but we think it’s going just the right speed!
BENNS: You did a show at Death by Audio, but then you played a show at the Standard. Is there this weird dichotomy, playing these Brooklyn basement shows, and then playing on the top floor of a hotel?
STEINMAN: We play any kind of show.
HAAR: I don’t know, its something interesting. We’ll play grungy basement DIY things, and then these sort of posh clubs.
STEINMAN: I think that’s how we like it, though. I think that works for us.
HAAR: It’s nice to have a foot in both places.
STEINMAN: I think we bring the grunge to that posh forum, then we bring some weird techno thing to the punk forum.
BENNS: Do you approach every show the same way, regardless of the venue?
HAAR: You adapt a little bit to your context, for sure.
STEINMAN: If you’re at the Standard, you’re going to feel differently than when you’re at Death by Audio.
HAAR: We still do the same stuff, but of course you do change it a little for the crowd.
STEINMAN: It’s probably more dependent on the sound system—the sound system at the Standard is terrible!
HAAR: But then you’re playing next to a hot tub of people, drinking champagne.
STEINMAN: That makes it better. That was one of the most amazing parties I’ve ever been to.
BENNS: I’ve heard about your live show, but not much about your DJing. Do you guys DJ a lot?
STEINMAN: All the time! [LAUGHS] Yeah, we DJ. But no, not all the time.
HAAR: We play live a lot more.
STEINMAN: Tell the people at Interview we DJ all the time, and we’re going to do such a good job—
BENNS: And you usually get paid 20 grand, right?
STEINMAN: Yes! We usually get so much money, and they shower us with gifts.
[SAM ORDERS AN OLD-FASHIONED.]
BENNS: What are your day jobs?
STEINMAN: We don’t need day jobs because we DJ for 20 thousand dollars a gig… Just kidding! I’m an artist’s assistant to Wade Guyton.
HAAR: I do lots of freelance random art and technology work, installing video installations, things like that.
BENNS: Are you guys involved in art as much as you’re involved with music?
HAAR: I’m mostly just involved with music.
STEINMAN: I split my time between art and music.
HAAR: He’s a little more balanced, I’m more music-heavy.
STEINMAN: Sam’s very well-versed in many…
HAAR: What am I well-versed in?
STEINMAN: I don’t know. Many new media art… technologies.
HAAR: Really? Oh yeah, I’m an art technologist, actually.
STEINMAN: He’s a guru, when it comes to art technology. I’m just going to hype you up here, Sam.
BENNS: Do you guys want to get anything else off your chests?
STEINMAN: No, we don’t really have that much on our chests.
FOR MORE ABOUT BLONDES, VISIT THEIR MYSPACE.