Melonheads of Australia rejoice. One of the most underrated bands of the 90s, Blind Melon, will be here later in the month and to find out why it took so long, Christian Stanger caught up with multi-instrumentalist Christopher Thorn while he was writing new tunes on his California ranch.
It took them nearly 25 years but Blind Melon, who achieved huge success in 1993 with hit song ‘No Rain’, is finally doing a run of shows in Australia later this month. After reconvening in 2006 following the 1995 death of original singer Shannon Hoon, the band has toured extensively with new frontman Travis Warren and even released a studio album, For My Friends, in 2008.
The band has since played everywhere from Buenos Aires to Bilbao but only recently decided to make the trek down under. One of the men behind the music, Christopher Thorn said the band had their chance to play huge stadium shows in Australia in early 90s but turned the deal down due to the glam rock headliner.
“We had an opportunity to open up for Bon Jovi in the 90s over there,” Thorn said. “But we turned it down because back in the 90s, in the grunge days to be caught opening for Bon Jovi would have been career suicide.”
“It’s nothing against Bon Jovi at all it’s just the nature of that period of time where it was like death by association unfortunately,” he said.
The band’s first show on their Australian tour is at the Woolly Mammoth in Brisbane on October 21 a date which marks 20 years since of the tragic death of Shannon Hoon. Thorn said that those with tickets to the show could be in for an intense experience
“I imagine we’ll be thinking about that about that moment and all that happened 20 years go,” he said.
“All of that stuff goes into a show so I definitely think it will be in our minds at the time while we’re playing. How could it not affect us.”
Also coinciding with the tour is the 20th anniversary of the release of the exceptional sophomore album, Soup, which received a blasting by Rolling Stone on its release and quietly slipped off the album charts in 1995 without a whimper following Hoon’s death. Since then the album has achieved cult status among music fans and clearly, it’s the album that Thorn is most proud of in the Blind Melon back catalogue.
The success of the debut album on the back of ‘No Rain’ afforded the band the ability to do what they wanted with Soup and they took full advantage as they set about creating a work would stand the test of time.
“It’s definitely like a ‘fuck you’ record in that we really weren’t concerned about singles,” Thorn said. “I’m sure the record company wanted to kill us but wewere really lucky enough to do whatever the fuck we wanted and that allowed to create a great piece of art and people are still listening to it and I guess that’s a good thing.”
“You can have a quick fix with a pop song but it kinda wears out. I think we made arecord that was super heartfelt and super passionate and I think that’s why it still has legs and doesn’t feel dated and I think it still resonates with people because it’s just the shit people go through every day,” he said.
“Shannon was struggling with drugs and it was a really heavy time for us and that comes through in the recordings.”
Since recruiting Travis – who Chris and bassist Brad Smith ‘discovered’ while recording his solo work – in 2006 the band have been performing to consistently rave reviews all over the world and they’re not willing to stand still having already self-released For My Friends and Thorn has high hopes for the new tunes he is currently writing.
“When we made records with Shannon it took a couple of goes to get to what we did with Soup, so I think the next batch of songs that we tackle will really bring it to the next level,” he said.
Fans turning out to the Australian shows can look forward to hearing a greatest hits mix spanning all four albums, but the band are planning a run of classic album shows during the next year in which they will run through Soup from cover to cover and a return leg to Australia is not out of the question.
“I think that would be a great excuse for you guys to tell us we have to come back and play Soup from top to bottom,” Thorn said.
Blind Melon play the Woolly Mammoth in Brisbane on October 21, Max Watts in Sydney on October 23 and Max Watts in Melbourne on October 25.