Ghost Children/Friends & Enemies Feature: Death Rawk Boy (Page 2)
In addition to a keen interest in the Pumpkins, there is more to Death Rawk Boy. Residing in Fort Kent, Maine,
Blanchette began his musical career at a young age, playing the euphonium, but he would eventually turn to guitar
at the age of 16. He notes that the leap from a brass instrument to a string instrument isn't as difficult as most believe. He says that it was actually "fairly easy", and that symphonic band background that he started with in Grade 4 helped: "it can make you stand out from someone who has no previous experience with instruments". John continues, "the hardest part was making fingers comfortable to forming chords. My knowledge of chord and note progressions as well as the push to remember fingering and notes,etc. mostly came from all those years in public school programs." He attributes his interest in guitar to his good friend, and cousin Matthew, but it took actually sitting down and teaching himself guitar to get to where he is at now.

Since 2003, Blanchette has managed to write and record an album's worth of music every 6 months or so, with
almost no budget. While he may not be as a prolific a writer as Billy Corgan, have written over 60 songs in the
space of three years is still quite a feat. He has also released 4 interent-only albums through his website. He says
that he has a "set goal in writing. My first album attempted (Prelude Le Hiver Fonce) was to actually try to record
music with a $0 budget and use what I already have with me and just use a cheap $10 computer micrphone.
Nothing more. It was basically a strong attempt at multitracking computer recording. Since then I've written many
songs in a set period of time that progressivly have gotten better."

"My actual techniques have been starting to show and a set way of recording and a noticable soundscape has been
showing through the fog. It takes time to realize what you want through the writing proccess. A good percentage of
the time I want to make a song that is really a mash of at least three artists. The Smashing Pumpkins, Jeff Buckley,
and Radiohead being my usual free flowing influences."

Despite progress in his original songwriting, John has never been able to really re-create Death Rawk Boy as a live
stage act, though he has played live shows before. Living in rural Maine has brought up some unique challenges,
"Imagine this: You want to start a band with a large plate of influences to guide you through the creative proccess,
so you try to find bandmates with similar or completely different backgrounds. Sounds normal, yes? I find it
incredibly hard to try to find people who let alone know who Bob Dylan is. I usually get the 'I love to play Metallica
and the Crue!'. Not exactly what I'm looking for." He continues, "That becomes an issue with recreating something
that involves a level of understanding for different types of music. I've played solo acoustic shows with single
arrangements of a good percentage of doable DRB material."

While it's been difficult to find like-minded musicians to help develop the Death Rawk Boy material live, John has
finally been able to work with a full band, called The Global Move, whose members have a variety of influences from
alternative rock to hair metal to top 40. Blanchette was asked by the bassist (Doug) to join with a drummer he
knew (Jamie), and then began playing together in the university music class and events around the area. However,
John hasn't been able to bring in any DRB material. He says that his bandmates "aren't geared towards it." But he
states that he is "still writing most of the original songs we play though. Newer songs, so I guess I'm still on track
for that 'album per year' statement I've made in the past. This gives me a good chance to randomly make songs on
the fly with a band to back me up. It's also a chance for the guys to play concrete with other people. Up to this point
they've never been in a solid band or played in public. So far it's been a great learning experience."

Aside from the obvious interest in SP, and developing his music, John has been getting more into artists like Elvis
Costello and Sujfan Stevens recently. Blanchette explains, "I've gotten to really love the songwriting craft more than
just making a guitar riff like I have been used to in the past. Jeff Tweedy is a prime example how a songwriter can
communicate to the audience using nothing but honesty and tricking you into believing that you were listening to
some sort of keen rhyming scheme. Briliant. Costello has a similar approach. My first Costello tune that I was
attracted to was a song he wrote with Brian Eno entitled "My Dark Life". It's one of those beautiful tunes that I
really don't dare listen too in the dark alone. I'm starting to get into some newer hard rock like "For the
Mathematics" or other math-prog stuff. Not my playing cup of tea, but it's interesting."

For more info on Death Rawk Boy, go to his official site or myspace.

Written by David Pukin

Update: January 19, 2008-Check out his new album, The Current State of Madness (listed now as John Nels)

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